From the archives: Tina turns them on whether they like it 'rough — or easy'
Stars and Stripes November 19, 1972
FRANKFURT, Germany — “Usually we do things nice — and rough — but this time we’ll start off nice — and easy.” The voice speaking is that of Tina Turner.
As the voice of 32-year-old, onetime choir singer from Tennessee melts into the opening chords of their version of “Proud Mary,” played by her husband Ike, the capacity crowd at the Jahrhunderthalle here is on its feet — because they’ve heard the record and know what’s coming.
The audience already has been treated to the biggest portion of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, featuring the three songbirds known as the Ikettes and the revue’s backup band, The Family Vibes. And, for the past half-hour, turbulent Tina Turner has brought the audience to a fever pitch.
It was the recording “Proud Mary” that marked the end of a 10-year climb from rags to riches for Tina and Ike.
“I first met Tina in a club in St. Louis, where I was playing with my band,” Ike recalls. “She came up onstage to sing one number, sort of as a goof, and boy, was I knocked out!”
Later, the talented Turners recorded a number of tunes such as “A Fool In Love,” “Tra La La,” “Gonna Work Out Fine” and “Letter To Tina,” which were big rhythm and blues hits, but “somehow we never were able to get that big pop record,” said Ike.
“White radio stations didn’t listen to the records. They just saw the label ‘Ike and Tina Turner’ and decided not to play it because they thought it was blues.”
But as American pop radio ignored Ike and Tina, the rock underground didn’t. Janis Joplin began to talk about what she owed to Tina’s style; the Rolling Stones asked the Turners to appear with them on tour; the Smothers Brothers scheduled them for a series of appearances before they themselves were canceled. Even rock groups like Eric Burdon and Deep Purple recorded tributes to Tina Turner as part of their own records.
“The establishment may have been afraid of the sheer vitality of Ike and Tina Turner,” Richard Robinson explains in “The Rock Scene.” “They may have been too sexy. But they were honest and real, and the kids just needed to hear their records or see them perform to love them and their music.”
And the truth is that Ike and Tina are sexy — so openly emotional and real that even now, in the midst of their success, Tina’s appearance in the Rolling Stones’ film, “Gimme Shelter,” has been cut out of the picture so that it can be shown without an “R” rating.
“I’ve spent my life trying to make everybody that hears me play tap their feet and have that proud look on their face ... If you don’t know what I mean, I’m always trying to let you know what I feel inside. I’m not a very good speaker, so I try to express what I feel when I play,” says Ike.
Expressing that feeling has become a way of life for Ike and Tina. When they roar onstage, chugging and high-stepping with. a breathtaking energy, they’re just expressing that feeling. So, for the million plus fans who bought a copy of “Proud Mary,” that feeling is what it’s all about. And, as Tina says on the record, and on the concert stage, “Nice and rough” is the way they usually do things. And it’s the way the audience likes it.