Our premise, revisited: What a year this has been. Since we last gathered here just two weeks ago, we’ve lost even more music greats. Merle Haggard, Leon Haywood and Gato Barbieri — quite a cross-section there — and still another Van Zant, country singer Jimmie, cousin to Ronnie.
Time, then — well past time, really — to wrap up an appreciation of four music greats who are still with us. These are my four. Yours may be different. We started with three elders, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. We end with …
The legend: Tina Turner.
Still performing? Apparently not. It’s been almost seven years since she last performed live. That was on May 5, 2009, at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England, the end to a 50th anniversary tour that featured 90 shows.
What we must acknowledge but won’t dwell on: Ike Turner.
Where I came in: I’m sure I’d seen Ike and Tina on TV before, but I certainly knew of them by the time “Proud Mary” was released in early 1971. That certainly warmed up a Wisconsin winter.
My evening with Tina: I’ve had two, thankfully. We first saw her in 1983, performing on a small side stage at Summerfest in Milwaukee, a night I will never forget. We then saw her at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, a big outdoor venue west of Milwaukee, on Sept. 14, 1987, on our honeymoon, a time I will never forget.
But about that first show. Tina Turner was just 43, but was considered an oldies act. She had split from Ike, had no record contract and was touring with two backup singers. Yet on that night, on that side stage in the middle of the Summerfest grounds, it was wild. To call her show sizzling or scorching or incendiary doesn’t do it justice. It was insane. You couldn’t believe what you were seeing and hearing. It was that good.
Appreciate the greatness: To get some idea of what we saw that night, kick back and watch 3 minutes of this mind-blowing show. It was taped at the Park West in Chicago on Aug. 4, 1983, about a month after we saw her at Summerfest. The backup singer/dancer with the spectacularly long blonde hair was something to behold, too.
The set list that night in Chicago: “Cat People,” “Acid Queen,” “River Deep Mountain High,” “Hot Legs,” “Get Back,” “Where the Heart Is,” “Nutbush City Limits,” “Givin’ It Up For Your Love,” “Nightlife,” “Help,” “Proud Mary,” “Music Keeps Me Dancing” and “Hollywood Nights.”
From there, go back. So many great tunes from her time with Ike. These are some of my favorites from just some of my Ike and Tina records.
“River Deep, Mountain High,” from “River Deep, Mountain High,” 1966. Also available digitally. Ike and Tina and Phil Spector. But I still prefer the Supremes-Four Tops version.
“I Want To Take You Higher” with the Ikettes, from “Come Together,” 1970. Available on this double CD with “‘Nuff Said” from 1971. Never anyone more qualified to sing “Boom shaka laka boom shaka laka boom da boom!”
“Baby (What You Want Me To Do),” from “‘Nuff Said,” 1971. Available on this double CD with “Come Together” from 1970. Tina finishes strong.
“Let It Be,” from “Workin’ Together,” 1971. Also available digitally. Tina takes us to church.