Simply the Best 1939 – 2023

in Features

She was one of the most influential female Rock stars of all time. The legend Tina Turner left us in May of this year but her legacy lives on. She was ‘Simply the Best’- the full embodiment of what the term signifies. Her compelling story of hardship, music and pain before she found worldwide success in her own right, and the best choices from her catalogue of greatest hits, will hopefully linger on for years to come in the stage musical about ‘Tina’. 

The show is a still a huge hit and if you have seen it you know that already, but if you haven’t and are a music lover or a Tina Turner fan, you owe it to yourself to see it.  I have seen ‘Tina el musical’ twice in Madrid (21 and 22) and it sits up there for me as one of the most accomplished Rock musicals that I have seen. It’s that good and the Broadway and the London West End shows are the pinnacle of theatrical entertainment that along with other major cities across the world, will continue to exploit the universal success of the story of the greatest and most humble of musical divas that the world has known. Soon no doubt we shall see the release of her back catalogue hits which may well produce a posthumous hit album for her estate and record company.

Tina Turner (born in Brownsville, Tennessee, Anna Mae Bullock 26. 11. 39) was an American-born singer who was the lead singer of the ‘Ike and Tina Turner Revue band. Ike trapped her into an abusive marriage and it was only after many years of struggling to break free that she rose to prominence as an iconic singer in her own right and became a role model for women across the world. Her comeback in the mid-eighties put her at the top of her game as one of the most powerful and explosive touring female singers and successful recording artists of the day. She sold in excess of 200 million records. Tina had a long career and toured her 50th anniversary show around the world in 2009. She died in Switzerland aged 83 on May 24.

 At the height of her world dominance in the early nineties she filled the Maracana stadium in Brazil with 180,000 – a world record attendance to this day. That crowning moment of her career is also the highlight of Tina the musical when she sang ‘Simply the Best’ however, there is a strong local connection with Albert Hammond our celebrated singer songwriter who wrote eight songs for her which she recorded. Three of which were big hits for her and two of which feature prominently in the ‘Tina the musical’. ‘Don’t Turn Around’ (1986) features twice. I thought that this connection had to be explored further and I chatted with Albert, who at the moment is on a touring hiatus and has just recorded seventeen new songs for release in Spring next year to mark his 80th  birthday  and he is also currently embarked on a Christmas album also for release next year. 

“These eight songs are the songs that Tina recorded of mine. I didn’t realize how many I had written for her: 1. Don’t turn around  2. I don’t wanna lose You 3. Way of the world 4. Be tender with me Baby 5. Ask me how I feel 6. Love Thing 7. Something Special 8. You can’t stop me loving you. Of those eight songs ‘Don’t turn around’ was a hit three times over, British Reggae band ‘Aswad’, Neil Diamond and Swedish band ‘Ace of Bass’ had a massive hit with it too. It’s a long time ago now but I remember that Tina especially liked ‘Be tender with me Baby’ because the lyric resonated with her. I also remember that a prominent Canadian singer songwriter produced the track for her.” 

Lovely memories to have indeed and now his connection with Tina is set to continue in the musical which no doubt will be given a new impetus by the demise of the legendary diva. As I said earlier in this column, if you haven’t yet seen the musical and get an opportunity to do so, don’t miss it because I’s a great story of rags to riches with great music throughout, some of which is written by our own legendary singer songwriter Albert Hammond who has written hits that go back half a century. 

“Last year we celebrated 50 years since ‘It never rains in Southern California’ and this year we celebrate 50 years since ‘Free Electric Band’ the song that inspired so many people around the world to seek truth and happiness. And so the line ‘I gave it up for music and a free electric band’.”

We had a long catch-up chat and I now have a standing invitation to meet him very soon and he is going to play me some of the new album’. There is so much that we don’t know about Albert Hammond here in Gibraltar so until he writes a book, which is on the cards, the anecdotes about his success, like having written eight songs for the late great Tina Turner, will serve to whet our appetite for what is still to come from the man who in 1962 started a Rock’ n’ Roll band called ‘The Diamond Boys’.

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