January 27, 1983: Tina performing at The Ritz

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Tina's Ritz Show

Certain nights can be decisive in a singer career; and if there’s one that was a major turning point in Tina’s career it certainly is those 3 evenings of January 1983 where she packed one of New York’s most legendary night-club, The Ritz.

Today, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this very special event, continue reading to watch and read more about it.

In fact one can say that every Tina Turner appearances there between 1981 & 1983 were crucial in terms of friendship and business. From appearing on stage with Rod Stewart and touring with The Rolling Stones to finally getting Capitol Records attention thanks to David Bowie, it all happened there in New York. The Ritz would become the nest of “the Phoenix that would rise from her own ashes”. 

Roger Davies remembering the 1981 Ritz’s shows (from I, Tina):

“The Ritz was where everything started to happen for us. It was the hippest club in the city at the time, and I called Jerry Brandt, the owner, and I told him: “Look, I want to play the Ritz. I don’t care if you give us any money, but i’ve got to get her into New York”. Tina hadn’t played New York in ten years! I told Jerry we’d play the date for the price of accomodations and band salaries, and Jerry, God bless him, got real exited. He decided to take this on as a personal challenge. He took out full-page ads in The Village Voice, and he got every celebrity he knew to come along – Jagger came, Wharhol, De Niro, Diana Ross, Mary Tyler Moore. It was incredible. And Tina was great. We sold out and wound up doing three nights there, S.R.O. The reviews were just unbelievable.”

Tina Turner & Grace Jones - backstage at The Ritz in 1981
Tina Turner & Grace Jones – backstage at The Ritz in 1981

Hank from New York who attended those shows in 1983:

“They (The Stones, Bowie, Stewart) were all supporting her and giving her as many breaks as she could get. In 1983, she was performing at The Ritz while Bowie was in town with his Serious Moonlight Tour (it was dreadful!). It was while he was in NYC that the execs from Capitol wanted to take him out but he wanted to go see Tina. I remember that night well but didn’t know Bowie was there; the audience and energy was like nothing I had experienced before, so much energy all around and Tina hadn’t even hit the stage.”

Tina Turner live at The Ritz in New York 1981 – photo by Hank

The second stint at the Ritz was equally triumphant. In an era of cooled-out “new wave” performers, Tina created a critical melt-down. Whirling across the stage with her Ikettes-like dancers, lashing the rhythms of her new rock band, in the best rock ‘n’ roll tradition, Tina made the ageless power of the blues seem brand new again. Rod Stewart turned up at one of these second Ritz shows with Richard Perry, the record producer, in tow. Stewart was scheduled to appear on Saturday Night Live, the popular NBC-TV show, that very weekend. Would Tina join him? She would. That saturday, they duetted on “Hot Legs”. TIna had an audience of millions.

Back in January 1983, she already had a european contract with Capitol/EMI but they weren’t very interested in her. That night things changed and Capitol executives brought her in to record Let’s Stay Together with Heaven 17 who had recently recorded with her on Ball of Confusion which hit in Europe. After recording Let’s Stay Together for Europe (we assume Capitol really didn’t have any interest in releasing the single in the U.S. but after EVERY club and DJ in NYC played and the crowds went nuts) they then decided to release as a U.S. single. It was so successful, that they gave Tina those famous two weeks to record an LP. And what LP, the album of redemption, Private Dancer. The 1983 Ritz gig gave Tina her comback success even if the record company didn’t seem to be behind her during those first gigs.

Tina & Keith Richards at The Ritz in 1983
Tina & Keith Richards at The Ritz in 1983

21 Replies to “January 27, 1983: Tina performing at The Ritz”

  1. Great entry! It completely reflects the atmosphere of that magical time in Tina’s career. Do you know, whether she still wore that “Jumping Jack Flash”-dress at the Ritz show?


  2. FANTASTIC site Ben & Sjef ! !
    I was at her first 1981 “comeback” show at The Ritz, after last having seen Tina on stage with Ike & Tina Turner Revue at Shea Stadium in August 1970. We waited hours for the doors to open – eating pizza from Famous Ray’s down 11th St at 6th Ave and drinking beers – so we could be first and put our elbows on the stage. The electricity in the room was crackling waiting for her to come out, and when she did, the place just went crazy. She ROCKED the house and the rest is history. The woman is a force of nature and cleared the path for all who came after her.

    Thanks for these great photos and memories!


    1. Hi,
      If this is really Jerry Brandt, thanks a lot for your comment, we feel very honored and touched! Of course, we have to acknowledge what you did for Tina Turner’s career so a big thanks for making it possible for her and her fans! I guess you must have lived some pretty wild moments owning The Ritz in NY, but that evening is legendary!
      Concerts like that should have been videotaped but that’s another story…
      Thanks again for leaving a message!
      All the best!

      And now, if you’re not Mr Brandt, don’t take those compliments for you 😉


    2. Jerry, I was the stage manager at Irving Plaza when I came over to work at The Ritz in the Spring, 1981. Bill Graham was (and remains) my hero in this business, but the first weekend I worked at The Ritz was Tina Turner for three nights. My first night working at Irving was Cyndi’s Blue Angel opening for XTC, so moving from that experience to what you brought to West 11th Street I felt like I was touched by the music gods. Tina’s show was beyond memorable – I’ll never forget what she did with Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry”. It was the sexiest deepest groove ever. Thanks, hope you’re well, and delighted to say hi any time. You’ve been a great inspiration in my own concert producing work. Best, Danny Kapilian


  3. I worked with Jerry, Billy and Michelle and had a limo company in n.y. at that time. since i always loved tina turner, when they sent my company the booking to drive her to and from the show i drove her myself just for the honor of doing it and to make sure it was done properly.
    of course, i saw the shows and was blown away like everyone else!


  4. I was at the Ritz on September 81 the show was wonderful but the house was empty. Max 20 people. Went back in the winter of 83 same wonderful show much more people but no so crazy because we did not buy tickets in advance and there was no problem to buy at the door at showtime. Always loved Tina and thank you for your wonderful Blog


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