Tina Turner is ever the professional, but even she has her bad days, when everything seems to go wrong. Opening night of her 1985 Private Dancer tour in Helsinki, Finland was one of these days. When Tina enters the stage, she is surrounded by smoke, making it impossible for her to sing. She simply shouts out “TOO MUCH SMOKE!”, and gives her stage technician a piece of her mind, before continuing the song as if nothing has happened. Later during the show, she confesses to the audience that she is tired of performing Proud Mary – her self-acclaimed favorite song.

Tina is human after all, and even she can be in a grumpy mood. Whatever may have happened on February 19 of 1985, it is clear that Tina is not ‘into’ the show, right from the beginning. Maybe it is the stress of opening night. Maybe it is her overloaded schedule: she only finished her 1984 tour around Christmas, then went on for promotion of her new album, tour rehearsals and a week later she is expected at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Maybe she is not feeling well: two weeks later she collapsed with the flu after shows in Germany. Anyway – the result is short temper. When performing the opening song ‘Let’s Pretend We’re Married’, she almost suffocates with the amount of smoke on the stage. She goes to the side of the stage to yell to her technician: she misses a few lines of the song, but then goes right back into it like nothing’s happened. Luckily, Finnish television was there to capture this moment!

Tina Turner - Private Dancer tour - 1985

Tina shows her frustration again during Proud Mary. She usually adds a couple of spoken lines at the end of the song, something like:

“I’ve been doing this song a long time. And you know what? The longer I do it, the better it gets!”

However, doing ‘Mary’ for the zillionth time even gets boring for Tina, and this night she decides to change her line to:

“I’ve been doing this song a long time. And you know what? I’M TIRED OF IT!”

After that she adds:

“People ask me, when am I gonna slow down? You know what I tell them: I can’t stop now!”

It sounds like Tina clearly needed a break, and all of this during opening night, with still some 180 shows to go for the rest of the year. Hopefully, winning three Grammy Awards a week later eased the pain a bit, and helped her find her groove back.

Audience recording of Proud Mary

The full setlist of the show:

01. Let’s Pretend We’re Married
02. Show Some Respect
03. I Might Have Been Queen
04. River Deep, Mountain High
05. Nutbush City Limits
06. What’s Love Got To Do With It?
07. I Can’t Stand The Rain
08. Better Be Good To Me
09. Private Dancer
10. Let’s Stay Together
Introduction of the band
11. Help
12. Proud Mary
13. Steel Claw
14. It’s Only Love (with Bryan Adams)
15. Out Of Time

22 Replies to “The Night TINA Was Tired Of Mary”

  1. Yeah, there are some days you wish you could have skipped them. Thanks for the audio recording, maybe it wasn’t the best day for her, but I like her performance. She has her well-deserved rest now :).


  2. Around those days she probably didn´t realize that people still wanted to hear Proud Mary – remember the album notes for Live in Europe where she says that they stopped doing Mary on the 1987 tour but then in later shows they got the feeling that ´something´ was missing and so Mary was put back on the set list.

    Tina also had some smoke issues in Sopot, Poland, in 2000… 🙂


  3. Yes, I remember hearing about Tina wanting to “retire” Proud Mary. Almost every performer with any longevity gets tired of certain material but most of them know the audience wants to hear those old songs. Some performers are fortunate that they either have a big enough catalog that they can change it up a lot or they don’t care what the audience wants and know their fans will see them anyway. I’m probably one of the handful of people who would have been fine with Tina retiring Proud Mary years ago. I remember seeing her during the PD tour and it was obvious (at least at the show I saw her at) that she was trying to do as little of Proud Mary as possible as it was pretty shortened.


  4. I think she must have been tired of much more than “Mary” alone 🙂 Her shows never changed. I know her Philosophy is “never change a good show”, but with such a big back catalogue, she could have made a completely different show with every tour. I guess her tours were done for the masses, not for the hardcore fans. How I would have loved to hear her sing more Ike and Tina material live or the songs she wrote herself besides “Nutbush”.


    1. Great point Lasse, even if she was doing it for the masses, she could have easily squeezed in those rare songs amongst the big hits, the trick is when to include them and how many. I understand her not doing Ike and Tina stuff, lots of bad memories and she hated 90% of the material even the ones she wrote.


  5. I don’t blame her for telling them there is too much smoke. You can’t see her and it would have affected her voice. Tina still sounded amazing despite the smoke. Proud Mary is great perfomed live and something would be missing if she didn’t perform it. I can see how she would get tired of proud mary,performing it night after night over the years.Tina has plenty of fantastic songs to sing if she wanted a change from proud mary and I’m sure her fans wouldn’t have minded.Tina always gives her fans 110% whether she is sick and tired or not.


  6. On these shows of the tour…what was she wearing whilst peforming Proud Mary? I’ve not seen many of the costumes from this early part of the tour.


  7. If Tina ever tours again I would truly hope that she does a lot of the gems that are not as known to the casual Tina fan. There’s such a wide variety of stuff that I would love to hear her do in concert like the ballads from Foreign Affair (her best solo effort I feel) and then some of the older stuff with a refreshed and updated reworking like James Brown did for many of his hits.


    1. I agree. Foreign Affair was her best solo album in my opinion also. It’s still my favorite Tina album and like you I loved the ballads in this album. I still don’t understand why it did so poorly in the U.S. but went #1 everywhere else in the world.


  8. TINA T is simply the BEST ….what ever she has planned in life with her music i sure we will enjoy as fans michael crosswhite st louis mo


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