Transcript: Reclaiming her name, Tina Turner | Apr 16, 2021

ANNOUNCER:
You're listening to
a TVO podcast.
COLIN:
Just a note before we get into
the episode
that we will be discussing
domestic abuse
and subjects
that may be triggering.
Welcome to
On Docs.
A podcast about documentaries
and the stories they tell.
I'm Colin Ellis.
NAM:
And I'm Nam Kiwanuka.
How are you doing, Colin?
COLIN:
Eh, not too bad.
You know, my cat again,
you know,
I think I told you last week,
he's wanting to take
your co-hosting spot,
but he's demanding money, so--
NAM:
(Laughing)
COLIN: I think--
NAM: Stick 'em up!
COLIN:
Yeah, I think, you know.
I'm trying to convince him to,
you know,
go down to a lower rate,
but you know, he's--
NAM:
I wonder if there's
a support group for that, Colin.
COLIN:
No, there's no support group for
guys with cats, unfortunately.
NAM: (Laughing)
COLIN: How about you?
NAM:
Uh, I'm okay, I'm okay.
Um, kids are going to be
learning at home for a while,
so I'm mentally preparing myself
to be in that space.
COLIN:
Oh, dear.
NAM:
Yeah, but I really liked
the documentary
we're talking about today.
COLIN:
Yes, what documentary
are we talking about today?
NAM:
We're talking about
Tina.
The new HBO documentary
about music icon Tina Turner.
TINA TURNER:
Look what I have done in
this lifetime with this body.
I'm a girl from a cotton field
that pulled myself above
what was not taught to me.
Are you ready for me?
ANNOUNCER:
The fantastic Ike and
Tina Turner Review!
♪ I left a good job
in the city ♪
JIMMY THOMAS:
It was Ike's band,
but Tina was
the shining star.
ANGELA BASSETT:
When I saw her dance,
she was all I could look at.
WOMAN:
He rehearsed constantly.
TINA TURNER:
And then the pressure came
that we had to work more
to try to get ahead.
And I was afraid.
I had an abusive life.
There's no other way
to tell the story.
COLIN:
So, you know, I don't actually
remember hearing
much Tina Turner
when I was a kid growing up,
which is actually
very hard to believe,
because we always heard
Michael Jackson,
Whitney Houston,
all those acts from the '80s
and Tina Turner was huge,
but she wasn't really
a big presence in my house.
How about you?
NAM:
Um, I used to listen to her.
I was actually introduced
to her as an actor
when she appeared in
Mad Max 3.
COLIN: (Chuckling)
NAM:
Have you watched any
of the
Mad Max
movies?
COLIN:
I've seen the first two,
you know,
but I've never actually seen
the third one,
which is, yeah,
I want to see it.
NAM: Oh, my gosh! I watched all
of them and I loved
Mad Max 3
and that was
Beyond Thunderdome.
COLIN: Mmm-hmm.
NAM:
And of course, that movie
starred Mel Gibson
and one of the songs from
that soundtrack was called
"We Don't Need Another Hero"
and it was
heavy rotation for me.
TINA TURNER:
♪ We don't need another hero ♪
♪ We don't need to know
the way home ♪
NAM:
Um, and then I discovered
some of her older music
with Ike Turner when the biopic
What's Love Got To Do With It
came out.
(Chuckling)
And that's when Angela Bassett
did such a great job playing
Tina Turner,
but that's when
I learned about the abuse,
the abuse that she endured
in her marriage to Ike.
COLIN: Yeah.
NAM: Um, and yeah.
NAM:
So, I think that's when I became
a bigger fan.
COLIN:
Well, let's talk about the doc,
because, I mean, obviously,
you know,
that's what we're here
to discuss, but, you know,
I would say that my
initial impressions of the film
were pretty positive because--
I, like I said, I was obviously
familiar with her music.
I wouldn't say I was a fan,
but I obviously knew of her
and I remember that movie
when it came out,
but, you know,
I would say that, um,
I wanted to hear more
about the music
and, you know, they do discuss
her
Private Dancer
album.
How massive it was.
They obviously, you know,
kind of compare her
to some of the period's greats
like they mentioned Mick Jagger.
I think she even taught him
to dance or something like that.
NAM:
Mmm-hmm. The legend goes, yeah.
COLIN:
Yeah, and I, and I,
I also just kind of love
her stage presence.
Like, her performance on stage,
like she was just--
I mean and considering,
you know, obviously she--
she hit her peak in the '80s,
but she was in her 40s,
so I thought that was all stuff
that I didn't know about
and that's what I was really,
like, impressed with.
NAM:
Um, yeah. I read a few reviews
that didn't think it hit
the right notes so to speak.
Sorry. Excuse the pun.
Um, and I think some of
the reasons why
some people didn't like it
are the reasons why I liked it.
Yes, it focuses a lot
on her relationship with Ike.
Something that she says
she didn't like talking about.
She didn't like talking
about the abuse,
but I think it asks us,
especially those in the media
to consider what we feel
we're owed to.
You know, at one point
in the documentary,
I think her manager says that
she should talk about
the relationship with Ike,
because after they divorced,
she would do these, you know,
different appearances
and she's on stage by herself,
yet she's introduced
as Ike and Tina Turner.
People just saw like, you know,
they didn't see her.
They saw him
and they would ask about Ike
and so the manager was like,
"Why don't you talk about what
happened between you two,"
"so maybe journalists
will stop asking about him."
So, she decided to tell
the story because she thought
if I do this,
then they'll leave me alone.
I think it was a little naive of
her to think about that.
To think that way.
She tells the story,
but they don't--
they want to know more.
It works.
At one point, I think
the manager said
people want to root for
the underdog.
COLIN:
Mmm-hmm.
NAM:
And I think it asks us
the question, why is that?
She could've just gone on
and done her thing,
but people started,
like it shifted for her
once she opened herself up
and then people wanted
to know more.
I've done interviews before on
The Agenda
with people
and months later,
they're so worried about
the show coming out
and people will say,
"Well, they wrote a book,
so they should expect us"
"to ask them those questions."
But think about it. Every time
that they talk about it,
they're reliving those things
and there was a lot
of things that were
left out of the documentary
that I think
a lot of people wanted
to know more about.
Even myself, like her son dying
by suicide.
She had a stroke.
How she had to relearn
how to walk.
And then her husband actually
ended up giving her a kidney,
but I think she learned her
lesson the first time around,
so she gave us
what we seemed to want
and I think that
was very intentional.
She held everything back that
was dear to her
and she kept it private,
because we, the media,
would only want more
and more and more.
COLIN:
Yeah.
Well, I want to get
into all that,
because I think it's--
the doc does cover a lot about
the domestic violence she faced
and it does leave out
certain things
like her son's suicide, but um--
I think you and I,
it's fair to say,
are both, I guess,
music doc buffs
and I can think of a few off
the top of my head
that I've really loved
like
Quincy,
the documentary
about Quincy Jones
and then there was
Still Bill
that came out well over
a decade ago about Bill Withers.
The Whitney Houston doc
was pretty good.
There's been some good ones
about Michael Jackson.
I wonder where this doc
kind of ranks for you.
NAM:
Um, I think it's up there
for me.
I really, really liked it.
And I think this documentary
was made for her fans.
It's kind of been billed
as her final goodbye.
You know, she struggled a lot,
but she didn't allow
those struggles to define
who she was or who she became.
Her estranged mother,
in the documentary,
described her in this way,
that Tina would put one foot
in front of the other
on the ladder and just climb.
It's an empowering story
and you want to root for her.
NAM: Plus, that voice.
COLIN: Yeah.
NAM:
So many layers
and natural talent,
so it's one of those
documentaries that, you know,
if you're not a fan,
I think after you watch it,
you will become a fan.
COLIN:
Oh, definitely.
I'm gonna buy
Private Dancer
on vinyl as soon as
I find it.
(Chuckling)
I'm just like--
NAM:
I have a few vinyl and I'll show
them to you later,
but I actually have a few
of her records on vinyl.
COLIN:
Cool. Well, I think, you know,
for our listeners
who maybe aren't that familiar
with Tina Turner,
let's just give her a little--
give a little bio around her.
So, she was born
Anna Mae Bullock
in Brownsville, Tennessee
in 1939.
She, as you mentioned,
had an estranged mother.
She had a pretty
rocky relationship
with both her parents.
They abandoned her as a child
and she had to live
with her grandparents
and grew up singing
in the church choir.
I don't know if anyone's seen
What's Love Got To Do With It,
but the film opens with her as
a child singing
with this boisterous voice
as a little kid,
which is hilarious.
YOUNG TINA:
♪ Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa ♪
CHORUS:
♪ Jesus told me ♪
YOUNG TINA:
♪ Whoa! ♪
GRANDMOTHER:
Young lady, what is wrong
with you?
NAM:
Now, the name,
how Tina came about,
you have to watch
the documentary
to hear the backstory,
but I thought that
was so fascinating,
so Ike renamed Anna Mae to Tina
and then they become
the Ike and Tina Turner Review.
ANNOUNCER:
Our show opens right now
with the exciting
Ike and Tina Turner Review
and they are wonderful,
so let's have a--
(Audience cheering)
COLIN:
Yeah, I wouldn't say
I knew all the specifics
of Tina's relationship with Ike.
I knew it was abusive,
of course,
and it was all covered actually
in the biopic of her
what she talked about earlier
What's Love Got To Do With It
with Angela Bassett
and Laurence Fishburne
and, you know, both of them were
nominated for Oscars,
because they were so terrific.
But the other thing
I didn't realize was
Ike's significant contribution
to rock music.
Like he recorded this song
"Rocket 88"
that is considered a contender
for the first rock and roll song
ever recorded.
IKE TURNER:
♪ You may have heard
of jalopies ♪
♪ You heard the noise
they make ♪
♪ Let me introduce you
to my Rocket '88 ♪
♪ Yes, it's great,
just won't wait ♪
♪ Everybody likes
my Rocket '88 ♪
♪ Baby, we'll ride in style ♪
♪ Movin' all along ♪
COLIN:
So, I thought that, you know,
the film is at least
giving him his due
in terms of music
and all of that
was pretty interesting to me.
NAM:
Well, in the documentary,
it says it was
the first rock and roll song.
I know this debates
upon debates, but yeah,
he was a very talented musician
and I didn't know
that about him.
His role in that history.
It's interesting that at the
time he didn't get the credit
and the song was credited
to a bandmate.
It kind of explained Ike's
desire to then control Tina.
She said that Ike made her
promise him
not to leave him
after she was successful,
because everyone else did
and she said
that's one of the reasons
she stayed
even after he became abusive
and the documentary
goes into detail with the abuse
and a lot of it is very jarring,
but Tina says in the documentary
that, you know,
that back then a promise
was a promise
and that's one of the reasons
why she stayed.
COLIN:
She does seem to acknowledge
that he was a sick man
and it's pretty obvious that
he had some deep set demons
and he obviously had a struggle
with a drug addiction.
I think that's how he
eventually died, unfortunately.
Uh, but one thing
I would just say about
the doc's focus on it is,
I think to be honest,
it felt a little redundant.
I think because the story
of their, of that abuse
was told already in I think--
Well, in the film
What's Love Got To Do With It.
And I think also in the musical,
which we'll probably talk about
a little bit.
There's a musical about
Tina Turner
that came out just before COVID
and you know,
I just wondered maybe
because the film shows
all these interviewers
and you mentioned this earlier.
Just all these interviewers
asking her over and over again
talk about like, "Oh, did you
hear Ike was arrested?"
Like, I just thought like
for the film
to also kind of dwell on that
and I think that they, you know,
mostly show interviews where
she's talking about it,
but from 1981
when she was doing the book
and when she did
a People Magazine interview
where she first talked about it
and the doc
when they interview her
don't really ask her
and I would imagine
there's a reason for that
and I can imagine
it's because it's very
triggering for her
and you can even see it
on her face
when she's asked
by one interviewer
and she actually grows flush,
so I just thought for the film
to kind of dwell on it so much
was a little bit of a mistake.
NAM:
Um, I think it was intentional
and you did mention that
it was triggering for her,
so she had told the story
initially,
so there was no reason
for her to retell it again
and there are moments
of the documentary
when she talks about, you know,
I don't want to talk about this.
My life was hard
and it's on tape,
it's on record, so use it.
I think it goes back to
what we want from our artists.
What we think we're owed
from artists.
I really do think this was
something for her
to say goodbye to her fans
in a way
and I also felt like it was
holding a mirror to the audience
that this is what we've always
been interested in
and that's what
was being delivered.
I thought the detail of how
she left him was horrifying.
She ran across a highway
and was almost hit by a truck.
I don't know about you,
but if you run away from someone
onto a highway,
the fear is real
and I also didn't know
about her suicide attempt.
There's a part in
the documentary where
Ike is interviewed
and asked about them.
He said there were
multiple attempts,
but the documentary
focuses on one.
That interview clip with Ike
I thought was so
incredibly powerful
in the way he tells
the interviewer to stop
and then he starts
his answer again
and his body language
and he also admitted to being
a womanizer and it kind of felt
from the way he was talking
that was why she did it.
He was never man enough to admit
that he had abused her,
but yeah, I think,
she talked about it,
you know, what more do we want
her to say?
And she's obviously found
happiness--
in life, but anyway,
I don't think
that was accidental.
I do think that was
an intentional decision.
COLIN:
I definitely knew it
was intentional,
I just, I don't know if it was,
if it was necessary.
I mean, I think--
I mean, I guess a case could be
made that, you know,
because she's so tied to Ike
in terms of, you know,
how she started, I mean,
it's fair to say that
I don't think she would have
become who she was without him,
which, you know,
I don't want to think about,
I don't want to say it
like that,
but I just feel like, you know,
NAM:
Well, she also said,
she also thinks about it
in the documentary, she's like I
sometimes wish I hadn't met him
but if I hadn't met him--
COLIN:
Yeah. I mean, he's part of
her story for sure.
I just kind of think. I just
guess I kind of wondered
if the film could've
maybe looked at
other parts of her career,
because she's had such
a long career,
I mean, she's in her early 80s
and I think just,
you know, looking at her success
in the '80s
with
Private Dancer
and with her touring
and just learning, I would have
loved to have just known
what her work ethic was like,
you know?
Because you would see like
footage of her kind of like
telling like the band kind of
what she wants
and sort of commanding everybody
and I thought,
well, this woman obviously
was very talented
at expressing what it was
she wanted,
you know, what her expectations
were in being a leader
and I just kind of would love
to have seen a doc
that looked more at her music.
Well, we should say
what happens to her
after she divorces Ike Turner,
so she basically gives up
everything.
Like, she gives up, you know,
all the money
that they made from their music,
all the royalties basically,
and the only thing she actually
wanted to keep was her name,
so she kept the name
"Tina Turner"
and then she was just doing kind
of whatever gig she could get,
you know, she was doing
TV appearances,
she was doing Vegas
cabaret shows
and finally, you know,
she meets this new manager
by the name of Roger Davies
and he's actually the one
that kind of helps her
get her career back on track.
NAM:
I love that guy.
I really do.
In the documentary,
Olivia Newton-John
even shows up.
I love that guy.
COLIN:
Oh, that's right. That was
Olivia Newton-John, wasn't it?
NAM: Yeah! Crazy right?
COLIN: Yeah.
NAM:
So, she meets this manager
when she's doing this project
with Olivia Newton-John
and he, um, it becomes like
the touchstone
that changes everything for her.
She faces, you know,
racist music executives
who aren't interested in her
and as we mentioned,
you know, journalists asking
about Ike Turner
and one of the reasons
why music executives
weren't interested in her was
because she was older,
there was no Ike Turner,
and she wanted to do
rock and roll music.
Eventually, she has her album
Private Dancer
comes out with--
and if becomes a massive hit
selling 20 million copies.
She wins the Grammy
for Best Record of the Year.
Diana Ross presents her
the award.
I was like, "Oh, my god!
I love Diana Ross!"
Two queens.
And for "What's Love Got
To Do With It".
And at the time, she was 44,
and that was in the '80s,
so you can only imagine
the pressure
or how people had decided that
she's, you know,
she's beyond her prime,
but she proved them wrong
and she, you know,
she did this thing
by herself her way.
COLIN:
Yeah, and she becomes the oldest
soul female artist
to top the Billboard Hot
100 Charts which is incredible.
I mean, you don't really see
that many people
in their 40s up there,
so I just,
I just think that has
to be praised.
NAM:
And think about it too,
you know?
She was a black woman at the top
of the charts
and she had done it her way.
Like the kids say these days,
I stan.
COLIN:
(Laughing) Stan.
Well, I think, it's funny be--
I feel almost a little guilty
for not realizing just how
important and talented she was.
I mean, I think,
if you look at her
contemporaries of that decade,
you know, you look at
The Stones,
you look at the Michael Jacksons
of the world,
Princes of the world,
I think she holds her own,
you know?
Like, I think she's--
she's part of that
group of people and I,
yeah, I feel like I,
I kind of underrated her
for a long time.
NAM:
Yeah, I think she was used
to that her whole life.
She, you know, at the time--
at the height of her fame,
she packed football stadiums.
There's footage of her
performing in Brazil in 1988
and all you see is
a sea of people
that goes back
and keeps going back.
TINA TURNER:
Hello, Rio!
NAM:
And she had everyone
just grooving, you know?
Can you imagine commanding
a stage with that many people?
The audience was full of people
in their teen to their 60s.
There's a clip of a, um,
one of her fans
who says, you know,
I just love that, you know,
she just reminds us that you can
do anything at any age.
She drew huge crowds and the way
she strutted up and down
the stage performing.
(Laughing)
You know, those short skirts
and not to objectify her.
It's just an appreciation.
But her legs, you know?
She was known for her voice,
but those legs. Jeez!
COLIN:
Yeah, and I think, you know,
you mentioned
appearing in
Mad Max:
Beyond Thunderdome.
Like I, you know,
so also do like--
be at the top of the charts
and also to have like
a hit movie.
I think to do all of that,
you know,
again I don't want to harp
too much on it,
but again, I'm just really
impressed that she did all this,
you know, after this, you know,
horrific experience she had
and having, like, you know,
a lot of people doubt her.
I just think it's like, I think
it's a real testament to her,
her talent and, um--
what do you think,
I guess was her--
Well, you picked the doc,
so why don't you tell us why,
why you think, why you picked it
and I guess
what you think her biggest
contribution in music is.
NAM:
Um, I picked the documentary
because I love Tina Turner
and I wanted to, I was curious
to see what it was about.
She did it her way
and she had range, you know?
She can do R & B, rock and roll,
and her debut album was actually
a country album.
When she was with Ike,
she did things his way,
then she divorced him,
as you mentioned,
she only asked for her name.
She was savvy enough to know
that she could
do something
with that name.
She walked away
from a lot of money
and that's how she ended up
doing all those cabaret shows,
because she was taking care
of her family.
Um, she may have been let down
by the people in her life.
From her father, mother, Ike,
but she fought for herself.
I think her contribution would
be that she was a black woman
who wanted to make
rock and roll music, so she did
and she was successful
and sold-out audiences
and she'll be remembered
for that.
She made a lot of people happy.
COLIN:
Definitely. Well, I think she's
going to be inducted again
into the Rock & Roll
Hall of Fame.
I know she was already with Ike,
but they do this thing where,
you know,
they induct you as part
of a band
and then they'll induct you
as a solo artist,
so I think that's great
and yeah--
I think, like I just
said earlier,
I think definitely put her in
the ranks
of all the great
rock and roll artist.
You know, your Mick Jaggers,
your James Browns.
Like, she's definitely in there
for sure.
NAM:
Yeah, I'm a bit, um, ticked off
it's taken this long, you know?
Tina Turner and Ike Turner
were inducted
into the Rock & Roll
Hall of Fame in 1991 as a group
and it's taken, what?
30 years for her maybe
to be inducted as a solo artist?
It's egregious. You know?
I wanted to use
the strongest word I knew
that I'm upset about this.
It's long overdue and I hope
they get it right this year.
COLIN:
Yeah, for sure.
Well, is there anything else
you want to say
about the doc or Tina Turner?
NAM:
Watch it. She's amazing.
(Laughing)
If you're a fan, you've probably
already watched it
several times by now,
but if not,
it's a documentary
that will show you
the power, perseverance,
plus, you may find
your new favourite artist.
I know everyone has their time
and I felt sad
in the realization that
she's one of the artists
I always wanted to see live
and may never,
I'll never get
the chance to, so--
I'll be on YouTube watching
her videos and performances.
COLIN:
She had some good videos
on there and yeah,
I would recommend it as well.
Again, I think if you were
sort of a--
either a fan or just kind of
like relatively familiar
with her music,
I think you'll start
to really appreciate
her music more
and I was watching her
music videos all Friday night
and they are still excellent.
(Chuckling)
Especially "What's Love
Got To Do With It".
That's a really good video.
And, again, I think,
you know, just--
I'm always impressed with
artists with such longevity,
you know?
Like, if you think of your--
and the ability
to reinvent themselves, too.
You know? I think
that's the one thing
you can give Tina Turner
credit for.
I mean, the music she was doing
with Ike in the '60s and '70s,
you know, are very different
from what
she was doing in the '80s,
you know?
Another thing about "What's Love
Got To Do About It".
that's really fascinating is it
wasn't really hers,
it was another artist,
or another band sang it.
BUCKS FIZZ:
♪ Whoa! What's love got to do,
got to do with it? ♪
♪ What's love,
but second-hand emotions? ♪
COLIN:
Uh, they're a British band.
NAM:
And it was awful! It was awful.
COLIN:
Well, okay, let's not be,
let's not be cruel.
NAM: It was not very good.
COLIN: Different strokes, okay?
COLIN:
Even Tina actually
didn't like it,
but she eventually
warmed up to it.
No, just that fact that
she was able
to do such a wicked job with it.
NAM: And make it her own.
COLIN: And make it her own.
COLIN:
Yeah, exactly. It's just like
sometimes you just,
certain artists, you know,
they just--
they get the, they--
there's always like, I think,
there are certain songs
that I think--
they just have to be sung
in a certain way
and then you can really hear it
and I think she--
she totally deserves credit
for that.
And that's the podcast.
You can catch
Tina
on Crave.
NAM:
While you're here,
why not give us
a rating on Apple Podcast
and tell a friend about us.
It helps new listeners
to find the show.
COLIN:
You can follow me on Twitter
@ColinEllis81.
NAM:
And you can follow me @namshine.
All one word.
COLIN:
Thanks to producer and editor
Matthew O'Mara.
Senior producer Katie O'Connor.
Production support coordinators
Nikki Ashworth
and Jonathan Halliwell
and executive producer
Laurie Few.
NAM:
Thanks for listening.
We'll catch you
at the next screening.

Watch: Reclaiming her name, Tina Turner