TINA & David: Tonight, and last night

Tina Turner & David Bowie - Birmingham, UK - March 23, 1985

David Bowie’s musical comeback is certainly one of the most exciting highlights of the current year. With a new album released two weeks ago, currently topping the charts, it is time to pay tribute to one of the most important figures in pop history – and a great admirer of Tina Turner!



It was David that apparently got Tina her recording contract with Capitol Records back in the early 1980’s. Consequently, he donated two songs to her comeback albums (1984 on Private Dancer, and Girls on 1986’s Break Every Rule). And he invited Tina to be a guest vocalist on the track Tonight, of his 1984 album with the same title. It was this song that David and Tina performed together during a 1985 concert in Birmingham, that was also filmed and later released on video.

David Bowie has been a long-time admirer of Tina. In 1983, he invited a group of Capitol Records executives to Tina’s show at The Ritz in New York. They were blown away by her performance, and this finally led to the recording contract for her 1984 comeback album Private Dancer. David contributed a song for this album (and the 1986 album Break Every Rule). Returning the favor, Tina was a guest vocalist on the track Tonight, in 1984.

Tonight was a track that David Bowie wrote with Iggy Pop, and was released on Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’ album in 1977. The lyrics of the song’s original version refer to a man, speaking to his girlfriend on her death-bed, apparently dying of a drugs-overdose. David re-arranged the song, when he recorded it with Tina in 1984, giving it a reggae flavor, and removing the spoken opening lyrics from Iggy’s version:

“I saw my baby, she was turning blue
I knew that soon her young life was through
And so I got down on my knees down by her bed
And these are the words to her I said”

Tina and David in the recording studio
Tina and David in the recording studio

Due to the change of the lyrics, the song turned from a dramatic farewell message to a romantic love song. While the studio recording is generally not considered as a big highlight for both David and Tina, the song gained its full potential as a romantic ballad when they performed it together live.

In March 1985, Tina was at the height of her success, filming a live concert at Birmingham’s NEC Arena, to be broadcast on HBO and released on video. When looking for a guest performer to make that night extra special, the choice for David Bowie was quickly made. He gladly joined Tina on stage for two nights, on March 23 and 24. Their performance was particularly steamy. Rumor has it that David and Tina a short liaison the night before the performance. With the glances exchanged between them on stage, this isn’t too hard to imagine!

The video above shows the song as it was performed on March 23, which was videotaped. The duet was however reprised the second night, and the difference between both nights is obvious, including a dramatically different saxophone solo. You can listen to an audience recording of the second night below – unfortunately the quality is not the best.

Their sexy performance didn’t go by unnoticed, and it has been featured in many ‘best pop duets’-lists. The Austrian magazine Rennbahn Express featured Tina & David in a 1985-issue and called them Das Traumpaar; the dream couple.

Rennbahn Express (1) - Austria - 1985The live version of the song was finally released as a single in 1988, when it was included on Tina’s compilation album ‘Live in Europe’. It did much better than the original studio version that Bowie released in 1984: it even topped the charts in The Netherlands and Poland.

In 1987, Tina and David re-recorded another one of David’s songs, Modern Love, which was featured in the Pepsi commercial that they did together. With The Thin White Duke’s return to the recording studio, we can only hope that he will lure his friend out of her retirement too, for ‘one last’ sexy duet!

27 thoughts on “TINA & David: Tonight, and last night”

  1. DAMN……..That dress Tina had on was fire,the song was hot,but that dress that only Tina could wear,was OUT OF THIS WORLD….

  2. Both of you guys deserve a standing ovation. Your lengthy posts on old news has made it new again. Some things I know, other things are completely new to me. The pic of David and Tina in the studio…I have never seen before.

    We all hope that the news with David will
    inspire Tina to return to the music scene. A new album, maybe. I personally would love to see her live again, but without the massive production. She could sit on a stool and I would be happy. But above all that my IPod is dying for new Tina music.

    Thanks again guys for everything. You make my day.

    Cheers,
    Drew

    1. Hi Drew,

      Thanks a lot for your comment and your support! We both really appreciate it!

      It is actually very difficult this time to say if Tina will return and if she does return, under what form!? A series of concerts in intimate places could be a blast but again, she has to feel like it, and it’s a radical transition to what she has been doing for years. There’s also the image that she wants to give back to her public and the general audiences and her physical and vocal abilities…
      So i guess there’s a lot of factor that Tina Turner and her entourage are aware of. Consequently i think a new album release with a few special appearances every now and then seems the easiest for Tina if something happen again.

      Of course, those are my (Ben) own and personal speculations about the subject, i might be totally wrong ^^
      Thanks for commenting Drew!

  3. Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany because it may contain music for which GEMA has not granted the appropriate rights.
    I understand that you live in Germany, which is the reason you can not watch some videos?are and will remain a fan

    1. Hi Sysy,
      Yes, unfortunately Youtube blocks certain videos in certain countries (record companies decisions) but we do our best to find some that are available everywhere!
      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Thanks for the recording of the second night at NEC, so different from the first night hey!! Great article as always boys!!! Oh…just one thing….you didn’t mention what it is that David says into Tina’s ear during their dance in the middle…;-)

  5. Thanks for the pic of the two in the studio as I’d never seen it before. Tina in her Azzedine Alaia black leather dress equals hot, lol.

    It’s not only David Bowie that has a new album out after a 10 year break. Rod Stewart also has a new album of original material coming out this May.

  6. Well, according to Eddy, Bowie says “My cock is so hard right now” and it seems like that’s the case if you can read lips….

    1. Beyond start prohabitation to totally other culture of step in these tunes, meight of there’s not the track of BMW, mentioned by you are.. chances are song by the artist!

  7. I love their version of Modern Love. Didn’t they record the entire song? If they did where can you find it. I hope if they did, it’ll be released on the 30th Anniversary addition of Break Every Rule next year

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