Listen to this nice interview of Tina Turner talking about her colleagues such as Mick Jagger, Madonna, Prince; her influences and her projects for the year 1986! The interview was conducted by Peter Panton for Speak Up magazine. Continue reading for audio and full transcription of the interview.
PP: When did you first decide to become a singer?
TT: It wasn’t a decision. It came with me. For as long as I can remember as a little girl I’d been singing – it wasn’t having to learn to be it or wanting. When I was just a little tot I was always singing.
PP: What sort of music did you like as a teenager?
TT: As a little girl it was pop because that was the radio. I mean you’re influenced by what you receive. There was the Macguire Sisters and a lot of the group singers on radio at the time, then as a teenager it became Blues and R&B because that was based again country and western music.
PP: Yes. Who were your first rock heroes?
TT: Rock heroes? I would have to say, becoming knowledgeable about music at the time of realising that, was the Stones and The Beatles.
PP: Do you think that you had any particular influences?
TT: Mick Jagger. Because I liked not all of what he said but what he insinuated because most of the songs I took of his I had to change a few lines because they were things that I wanted to say as a woman and things that he could say like… as being a man. So… but I liked his style, his energy and… the projection.
PP: In the 60s rock was rebel music: the Rolling Stones,Bob Dylan and others wrote and recorded outspoken lyrics that urged sweeping social change. What is the rock message today?
TT: I think it’s a lot of fun, because if you want to talk about what Prince says, it’s a little bit over the top. I would say that Mick is still in the ball park of just giving you a good party song, good party music to get you going – talking about hot women and if you’re getting ready for a party, Mick Jagger’s music is the get-you-going type of music.
PP: Is it true that today’s songwriters argue that romance isn’t as important as material values or sex? For example, Madonna (entertainer) in her hit Material Girl or your What’s Love Got To Do With It…
TT: (Laughs) Do you dare compare the two? You know, What’s Love Got To Do With It is a bit more profound. Material Girl is more of a fun song. I mean any girl would say “OH! I would LOVE to find a guy with money to buy me presents”. What’s Love Got To Do With It is a bit of a statement because love has everything to do with it. It is… definitely a foundation… a spiritual connection that makes peace. Also it is the change in the world. People don’t get so hung up on it any more as they used to. They feel that it can be secondary in some instances. So I think that the song is a much stronger, meaningful song than Material Girl.
PP: Some people say it is much easier to get noticed in the U.K. There are a number of influential and widely read pop music weeklies that cover every facet of the British pop scene. B.B.C. Radio One welcomes new bands and Disc Jockeys are free to play any record that strikes their fancy. Is there a still a British invasion taking place in the U.S.A.?
TT: I don’t think (we’re only speaking of opinion) I don’t think the front of the question is true, which was it being easier to make it in Britain. I find that the British audience listens and they accept the performer for its value, value as a singer, as a vocalist, value as a performer. You’re only accepted if you’re good. There’s been (if you sort of scan the magazines) announcements of different performers that has come and tried to get the British audience to go crazy, simply by them entering the stage because they had a hit record. It just doesn’t happen. That happens in America. So the front of the statement isn’t true. I think the influence of British music is still very prominent in America.
PP: Why do you think this is so?
TT: There’s something about.. I call it a kind of mystery because of the culture. The culture is… the British people are extremely conventional. They hide… I hope that I can verbalise this properly without offending anyone. You don’t always know what one is thinking or feeling because it is basically hidden. The British people are basically… let you see what they want you to see. So they put it into a song, so what is instigated you kind of get ‘cause you don’t know exactly, so it’s leaving a lot to the imagination, which I think has a lot to do with us being attracted to the way the songs are written because you don’t exactly know what it means, but because it’s coming from so deep it sort of gets through with a different meaning…
PP: During your career you’ve mainly sung material written by other people. Do you regret not having written more of your own songs?
TT: I only wrote of a home town, Nutbush, which is I think you can call it picturesque of my past. It’s a cute little community town. That is the only song I’ve written that I’m proud of. In the past I was limited in my idea of what I wanted to write about ‘cause there wasn’t very much excitement so I wrote a lot about what I was learning – re-incarnation and different spiritual aspects that had taken on in my life. After that period (meaning the last ten years) I have simply been experiencing fun and freedom. I think what you can look forward to is when I do finally do a resurge of my writing, it will be different from what I have written in the past. But at the moment I haven’t started up. I have not felt the freedom to be able to write of my experiences.
PP: What about your relentless touring? Isn’t that very hard work?
TT: It’s really healthy for me. I… There’s a difference in how I feel when I’m travelling and when I’m sitting still. I’ve been doing it for such a long time it has become a part of my life. It gets a bit hectic depending on where I am, you know, like there’s different parts of the world that’s more stimulating than other parts.
PP: Well, do you have preferences about the country you play in?
TT: Europe is my favourite.
PP: You prefer Europe to the States?
TT: To the States, or to Australia, or to different parts of the world.
PP: Of the contemporary musicians which are your favourites?
TT: It’s very hard to express myself there because I don’t remember artists… as much as… I remember music first artists second. I cannot say at the moment that there is any preference.
PP: Is it true that many older fans… find new rock bands hard to take? …Heavy Metal, for example. Old fans that are, you know, not accustomed to this type of music… Does this type of rock appeal to most exclusively to male teenagers? And is it true that it tends to treat women as temptresses?
TT: My attitude about that is… because it’s very hard for me to speak for the public, I’ve learnt that… People hold on to what they like. They discard what they don’t… I think there are people that still hold on that like Heavy Metal like a bit of what is going on now, but it isn’t all of what they love and which goes on and it’s the same with me… There’s still a lot of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke songs that I still happen to like a lot, but then there are a lot of Madonna and… a lot of the female singers that I like as well, but it’s like liking it with different emotions, you know.
PP: Yes… Some people say that one of the prime functions of Heavy Metal type of rock is to irritate parents. What do you think?
TT: Well, it is a rebellious world at the moment, so I think psychologically that could be true.
PP: With your album Private Dancer you won three Grammies for Record of the year, the best pop female vocal performance, both for What’s love got to do with it? and best female rock vocal performance for Better be good to me and after a phenomenally successful last eighteen months, have you really promised yourself the whole of 1986 off?
TT: Not even the half of it. I promised myself at least three months of it, because I do have to start the album in ’86 and after about three months I’ll sort of be working, receiving songs etc. then but… I think even it will probably be late ’86. ’87 before I can promise myself a year off because there’s still a lot I want to do. There has to be another album, there are movies coming in at the time, so…
PP: Well… you received acclaim for your performance in Mad Max III. Do you see your future as being in the movies?
TT: Well, yes, absolutely. I was very proud of the job that I did for my first straight… well… first straight drama and I think I did tremendously well and I was also complimented from the producer and the director. I simply want to do it because I’ve been singing 24 years and there’s not much more I can do with it, unless I decided to learn opera or to decide to sing jazz. So that is why the film is more important. It’s because it’s new. It’s something to master, to conquer.
PP: It was very nice talking to you, Miss Turner.
TT: You’re welcome.
PP: And I wish you all the best in you career in both music and films.
TT: Thank you.