Chart Watch Extra: The Ageless Tina Turner
This can't be right. You're not going to believe this. The ageless Tina Turner has been a mainstay on the Billboard charts for half a century. Fifty years ago this week, Ike & Tina Turner were scaling the Hot 100 for the first time with "A Fool In Love."
Tina has seen lots of ups and downs since then. The downs were documented in What's Love Got To Do With It, the 1993 movie based on her life. The ups have mostly come since she went out on her own in 1976.
Artists leave established groups all the time, but it's rare for an artist's solo career to surpass his or her group achievements. But Tina has done just that. She has amassed 14 top 40 hits on her own, compared to six for Ike & Tina. Six of her albums have made the top 40 on The Billboard 200, compared to just two for Ike & Tina. She has won six Grammys, versus just one for Ike & Tina.
Tina has shown considerable musical range. She is one of only three artists to win Grammys in the pop, R&B and rock fields over the course of a career. The others are Michael Jackson (who did it all in one night in his 1984 Thriller sweep) and B.B. King.
Tina has had much success covering songs that had already been hits; finding new meaning in them and having hits with them again. Ike & Tina did just that with Sly & The Family Stone's "I Want To Take You Higher" and, most famously, Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary." Tina launched her 1984 comeback with a cover version of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."
Here are 25 key dates in the career of a legend.
Sept. 18, 1961-"It's Gonna Work Out Fine" reaches #14 on the Hot 100. It's Ike & Tina's highest-charting hit of the 1960s. The single features backing vocals by another high-profile couple, Mickey & Sylvia (who recorded the 1957 classic, "Love Is Strange").
June 18, 1966-"River Deep-Mountain High," produced by Phil Spector, peaks at #88. Despite the poor showing, the song is universally regarded as a classic.
Nov. 23, 1967-Tina appears on the cover of the second issue of Rolling Stone. (John Lennon was on the cover of the premier issue.) This makes Tina the first woman and the first African American to make the cover.
March 27, 1971-Ike & Tina land their biggest hit as their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1969 smash "Proud Mary" reaches #4. A year later, it brings them a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group.
Oct. 27, 1973-Ike & Tina land their last Top 40 hit with "Nutbush City Limits," an autobiographical song written by Tina. Bob Seger covers the song three years later and has a chart hit of his own with it.
March 19, 1975-A movie based on The Who's rock opera Tommy, with Tina playing the Acid Queen, opens. The movie also stars Elton John and Eric Clapton. In September, Tina hits The Billboard 200 with an album titled Acid Queen. It's her first solo project to chart.
1976-Tina leaves Ike, ending a tumultuous, 18-year marriage. (Ike dies in December 2007 at age 76.)
Jan. 21, 1984-Tina lands her first solo Hot 100 hit with a remake of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."
Feb. 22, 1989-Tina Live In Europe wins the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. It's Tina's fourth consecutive win in that category. Only two other women have won in that category four times: Pat Benatar and Sheryl Crow.
Oct. 14, 1991-Tina releases her greatest hits album, Simply The Best. The album has sold 1,733,000 copies, making it her top-seller of the Nielsen/SoundScan era (which began in 1991). The album borrows its title from Tina's 1989 hit "The Best."
June 9, 1993-What's Love Got To Do With It, a bio-pic based on Tina's 1986 autobiography, I, Tina, opens. Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett go on to receive Oscar nominations for their performances as Ike & Tina. In August, "I Don't Wanna Fight" hits the Top 10, becoming Tina's biggest hit of the ‘90s.
December 2005-Tina receives a Kennedy Center Honor. Tony Bennett and Robert Redford are among the other honorees.
Feb. 10, 2008-Tina teams with Beyonce for a memorable performance of "Proud Mary" on the 50th annual Grammy Awards.
Note: I wrote the liner notes for the 1994 collection, The Collected Recordings: Sixties To Nineties.