In 2012, Tina Turner’s manager Roger Davies turns 60. Today, we will focus on the man who made Tina’s 1984 comeback possible and who also is the manager of some of the biggest names in the music industry including P!nk, Sade, Joe Cocker and Cher.

Continue reading for extracts of interviews with Tina and Roger, talking about their working relationship, and to watch a very nice documentary from 1996.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1952, Roger Davies is the man behind many great singers’ careers. He started as a bass player, then turned to Political Sciences, became a journalist and then a manager for Australian bands such as Daddy Cool or the Sherps.

In 1979 he was working with Lee Kramer when he was first introduced to Tina Turner.

Tina : “I walked in and Lee took me back to meet Roger. Roger’s office was full of stuff. His explanation for that is that you’re a genius when your desk is cluttered. It worries Roger when he walks into someone’s office and their desk is clean. If you know Roger it’s pretty funny. So to make a long story short, the reason I went with Roger was because of his eyes – the way he sat there and looked at us. We were jamming on a demo tape I’d brought in. It sounded very much like Ike’s productions because that’s where I still was and that’s the truth. And Roger did not hear a hit record there or even anything that would get airplay. He just sat there and his eyes said « un-unh . » Now, i don’t like yes men and I don’t want someone to hold my hand. Roger wasn’t overly mushy. He would simply say what he had to say and we’d go on from there. Roger knew that in order to do anything with me, things would have to be changed. And the way Roger communicated that made me feel right.”

This was someone Tina could respect, trust, get good results from disagreements, spark with, said Tina to Rock & Soul magazine :  “He brought me back to life. I’ve found someone who will do what I want. That may sound like an older woman telling a younger man what to do, but that’s not the way it is. It’s my dream. It’s all the way how I dreamed it. There’s s no point in having a manager if you don’t listen to him. I know when Roger is wrong but we usually find a halfway point for agreement.”

Lee Kramer was enthusiastic about signing Tina as a client, but Roger wasn’t convinced yet. He wanted to see what she could do on stage first. Tina was about to start a two-week engagement at the Fairmont Hotel in San Fransisco , and she suggested that they came up and see her there. Lee Kramer and Roger Davies finally made it up to San Francisco on the last night of her engagement. Davies especially loved what he saw that night. Although the Fairmont Hotel was pretty staid and stiff setting to see an act like Tina’s, he was knocked out by the energy she expelled on stage. He was so impressed that they stayed for the next show as well. They were thrilled to find that she was even better during the second show. They decided to sign her immediately.

There was so much that had to be just right, the right record label, for starters. Tina wanted one that would be willing to go to the limit, as she was. She wanted one that would fight for her. No way was she going to let herself get lost in some big company shuffle. A black woman with a golden-oldie past, looking to switch from R&B to Rock – that kind of woman could get lost in a shuffle or two.

Eventually someone did get exited and willing to take the risk. Some executives from Capitol Records came out to see one of Tina’s New York shows, and according to Tina, they were “blown away”.

The buzz had begun. Roger Davies began pestering Carl Arrington, an editor at People magazine – the arbiter of mainstream pop-cultural importance – for a cover story : «  The Return of Tina Turner ». Davies also took note of an impending U.S tour by the Rolling Stones, which was scheduled to kick off in Philadelphia in late September, play its way out to the West Coast, and then wind up with five massive dates in the New York City area in early November. Roger lined up a return engagement at the Ritz for October.

Roger:  “In early 1984, because of touring commitments, we only had two weeks to make an album in London. It all fell together. Mark Knopfler had written “Private Dancer”, but didn’t use it with Dire Straits so he gave the song to us. We were running from one studio to another, with no money. It was just Tina, myself and a briefcase, freezing in the back of a taxi at two o’clock in the morning. I look back and it was the best time in my life. We had bonded as friends already but now we were on a mission: I was making my name overseas and Tina had nothing to lose.”

“We’ve been together for 21 years. We’re like a team but we’ve had many disagreements, mostly about songs. In 1980, Steve Kipner wrote “Physical” specially for her. Tina’s reaction was: “I could never sing “Physical”. It’s too sexy, too obvious for me. Give it to Olivia [Newton-John].” It was a worldwide smash. More recently Tina wanted to do Macy Gray’s “I Try”, and I put my foot down. The biggest fight we’ve ever had was at the start of this tour. I was desperate for her to do “Try A Little Tenderness” but she refused. So I got the band to rehearse it, got John Miles to sing it and she agreed to do it as a duet.I never tell Tina how to dance. That’s the one thing I don’t get involved in. She controls the stage, decides on the clothes, how the dancers look.”

“Tina’s my best friend. We’ve always been frank with each other. Before I got married, Tina would always give my girlfriends the look up and down, even check if they had nice shoes. Tina’s very loyal. She honors her commitments. That’s the way she is. It’s rare for an artist and manager to be together after 20 years, to be friends and not talking through lawyers. We’ve never had a contract. It was our word and it still is. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Tina: “Having Roger is like having another eye. When I’m totally involved in something, I can’t see it from the outside but Roger looks at the show, at the running order of an album and makes a lot of good suggestions and changes. We’re almost like family. Roger used to worry about my money, he would go round the shops with me saying: “You shouldn’t buy all those clothes. You can’t have that. You’ve already got enough of those!” Finally, I told him: “It’s my money, I can do what I like with it!” Now that Roger is managing other acts, I don’t have to keep working to support him. I’ve been doing this all my life – traveling, dancing, singing – and we haven’t stopped working for 20 years. I’ve decided to quit while I’m ahead and Roger has been totally supportive of my decision.”

52 Replies to “Roger Davies: Superstar Manager”

  1. How is it possible for me to see Tina Turner in person and have a chatt. I have been of Tina Turner since my 21st. birthday and I am now 54. I would love to see Tina while I can , is this possibel?????


    1. Hi John, unfortunately it’s very (very) difficult to reach Tina…you can always try to contact her via her management but there’s very little chances that you’ll hear from her i am afraid. But nothing ventured, nothing gained so you’ll never know 😉


      1. Looking for photos of 1970 Asian tour for historical archives. The saxophone player was a young Joseph Miller from Pittsfield, Illinois. I am a board member of our County museum.


  2. Wow! They really have a good relationship. And I didn’t know that Let’s get Physical was written for Tina. Thanks guys! Keep up the great work.


  3. This was an very informative article, I really enjoyed rehashing some of the information that I had read some years back. And yes, I do beleive that Tina is loyal, she is Sagitarian, most of them are. The pics are nice of her and Roger, great shots, you can feel the chemistry in them. Keep the good articles coming guys.


    1. Well, thanks a lot Mark, we really appreciate it!
      And concerning Tina’s loyalty, it has been mentioned many times by her relatives, people who worked with her and many other artistes and i think that’s very respectful of her !


  4. Great article. It’s so nice Tina was able to meet someone who made the difference in her life, her solo career, her recognition. I think this is a partnership, more than anything. And friendship with someone you work close, is a blessing. I think they benefited both from that fortunate meeting.
    My admiration to Roger for his vision and guidance. And Tina for accepting it! Again, great work guys. One of my favorite topics so far.


    1. There’s always been a man in Tina’s life guiding her one way or another, she had (has) the talent but she needed guidance. And after Ike’s era she was fortunate enough to meet Roger & Erwin who took care of her and did everything they could to make her successful and happy!
      Thanks for your comment Cergio and your encouragements!


  5. Hey,
    Loved the article. I am presently teaching in Toronto, Ontario. I teach in an alternative school and we just completed a unit that deals with domestic/spousal abuse. One of my students, wrote a poem reflection in response to the movie, “Whats Love Got to do with it”. Needless to say, this young man is very keen on reading his article to Mrs. Turner. How would I be able to get in touch with either her or her manager Roger Davies. If it is possible.


    1. Hi. I’m Nanette’s nephew Adam, by her older sister Roslyn.

      Nanette’s surname was Coffen. She and Roger met via Sherbert, who Roger had managed very successfully in the 70’s – the middle Coffen sister, Jill, married Daryl Braithwaite’s twin brother Glenn. She was married to Roger in the very early 80’s – I sat on Olivia’s Newton John’s knee as a young boy at the reception! – but she had divorced him by 1989. She missed her family and couldn’t stand LA, and he couldn’t leave due to his work commitments with Tina and then Janet Jackson. So they split amicably, as I recall. They never had children.

      I’ve never spoken to him after that, but I have heard tell through family of how much he regretted that separation in later years. I can’t be sure, but I think he made some arrangements for Nanette’s son after Nanette’s death. That wouldn’t surprise me if it were true. He always struck me as a genuine and nice guy, if a little quiet in social settings and a real workaholic. He loved tennis and bought me my first Donnay racquet for Christmas which I used for years 😀

      Her eventual only child was not Roger’s, but instead the biological son of a second-rate Sydney landscape painter, who was denied custody in totality after her death by the Federal Court because of his total violent unsuitability. I will not repeat his name, he is persona non grata in the family. If he is ever referred to at all, we simply call him “The Biological”. He was terribly abusive and pushed Nanette down the stairs while she was pregnant and so she checked into a private hospital for four months just to avoid him. Then she moved up to Byron Bay for the brief-but-happy rest of her life.

      She died in a single-car accident on the Old Bangalow Road in late 1991, 6 months after her son was born. Her son went off to alternate care to avoid contact with The Biological (court orders banning his access totally came shortly afterwards – the judge was scathing). For some reason, she ran off the road and hit a tree. Her passenger was injured and her son in the back seat was unharmed. It was a tragic accident, and occurred one month before her sister, my mother, died of cancer.


  6. hello, im a dj, have a radio music show in jamaica that is broadcasted on various channels and i play alot of the iconic material and would LOVE LOVE LOVE if i could get a dj drop / recorded shoutout from the great 5ina turner, that would make my lifetime, been trying to get jazz and blues festival and reggae sumfest to book her for jamaica but they say unfortunately, she has retired and is sticking too it 😦 well at least i can try for a dj drop. in DJ CRAZY NEIL


  7. How can I write a thank you card to ms turner for saving my life through her music and biography film??? I owe ms turner my life. Xx


  8. Hello,
    I am the owner of # 3DMagazine , an Italian magazine that tells the extraordinary ordinariness of public figures and not, for a new gender communication.
    Are willing to put Tina Turner as cover Woman in April , first because it is Buddhist like me , then there is a woman who did it and it could be interesting to tell her. # 3DMagazine is both paper and digital , and is currently distributed throughout Italy . Below I leave all contacts .

    Twitter: #3D Magazine (@3tredi)
    ISTAGRAM: hashtag3dmagazine

    Palma Sopito
    Owner of #3DMagazine
    +39 3462691429


  9. Tina! I am a really really big fan! I am 17 and my name is tiernae Legendre but you can call me T. I have so many cool pictures of you and my favorite song is private dancer! On your birthday I wanted to try to wish you a happy birthday but I couldn’t. If you can I would love to call you just to say hi!!!! I love you Tina and please I am a really big fan!!


  10. i was very lucky to meet tina at gleneagles hotel, rodger called me t my house and invited me up to meet her. as i had waited out side the hotel for days to see her arrive ,so i did a letter to rodger left it at the hotel for him and he called me to meet tina it was brill something i will never forget


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