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Opinion: Remembering Tina Turner

It was a warm December evening in 1985 when a group of friends and I stood waiting in Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland for Tina Turner to come on stage. We’d managed to get within 10 metres of the stage and we were all really excited.

One of the group, David, had made a banner out of a white sheet, and scrawled on it were the words ‘Queen of Rock’. She was, wasn’t she. At one point while she looked in our direction we held it over our heads briefly. I’m pretty sure I saw that dazzling smile get wider.

In the intervening years, I’ve been to a few concerts, and plenty of theatre, but this one, part of her Private Dancer tour was my first. I was 20 years old, and in love, platonically, with the magnificent, graceful, powerful, gorgeous Tina.

That night is etched in my mind so strongly that I have never forgotten it. I don’t believe in hero-worship, nor do I believe in deities, but that night, surrounded by my friends and thousands of others, I was on such a natural high and felt like I was in the presence of a goddess.

It’s not just about the music, or the voice. There was something about Tina that transcended the showmanship. She had a rawness and honesty that was palpable. Yes, I was and still am, entranced by her sound and energy, but also captivated by her strength, her courage, and her ability to be a genuinely warm and caring human being.

One of the most interesting aspects of Tina was how she oozed sexuality in a very classy way. Yeah, she wore figure hugging outfits that accentuated her bosom, her buttocks, and those fabulous legs, but it was never offensive or overt, it was just natural and playful. 

The music is timeless. Her powerful voice can lift my spirits every time I listen to one of her songs. Her ability to bring sheer energy or at times sweet vulnerability to a track was magical.

On that wonderful Private Dancer album we see her versatility on display from the upbeat and raw Better Be Good to Me, to the eponymous and emotional Private Dancer.

It’s a little strange isn’t it how human beings can love someone they’ve never met. Tina Turner is proof of that. For me, she was the embodiment of human soul in all is complex and vulnerable vitality. 

Dear Tina, I and millions of people around the world will miss you, but we take comfort in the fact that your voice will continue to inspire and bring us joy forever. 

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