Tina Turner Private Dancer album In our series about iconic Tina Turner photos we selected this time a famous concert photo from the 1985 tour. It pretty much summarizes everything about the mid-80s rock style and fashion, namely jeans and leather. Furthermore, it adds certain key Tina Turner elements and distills everything to one of the most famous live shots of her. Of course, you know our selected photo which makes it a bit not-so-newsworthy to let me stare at it again, to drag your nose to the screen and force us all to take a deep dive into the pixels. But still, what makes it so impressive and what does it have what others from the same series do not have? In fact, there are indeed other photos in that dress and somehow, they had not been chosen for the front cover – or even any cover for that matter.

Tina Turner - Tina Live 1985 - Cover Photo
Tina Turner – Tina Live 1985 – Cover Photo

Key elements for becoming iconic What can we find in the photo that shaped its own stardom?

A jeans jacket and a leather dress

First, we have the combination consisting of a jeans jacket and a leather dress, or even more precise: a black leather dress (quite short and even deeply incised on both sides) and a traditional light-blue jeans jacket. From today´s perspective that is so 80s that you could practically wear it again – and maybe we set a trend here and you check what dress you might have which is only a little bit longer than your jeans jacket. In a more advanced version you try to think of a hairdo which is longer than the dress…

The smoothing trick

Second, the big iconic hair which frames her face that does not show any wrinkle despite her singing into the microphone. I could imagine a second version of that image with her face in a wild grimace belting out some rock song but that photo just reveals a rare moment where the open mouth even smoothes the face. Try that in front of a mirror and then ask the big photographer of your family to hit the button in the right second during a family karaoke event. Yes, that will be quite challenging for all participants as training that trick on the dry dock is half-way easy but to use it while singing and then finding a photographer to freeze it for eternity…

Legs – twisted / Foot – turnedTina Turner Private Dancer Tour Live

Third, a constant topic, the iconic legs. If you are still in front of your bathroom mirror just add that pose before, after or at the same time you are working on smoothing your face with an open mouth. How does she do it anyway? Her left leg is nearly straight, while the right one is bended. If you look down to the shoes, you see that it is not only bended but that the foot is also turned inwards. Everything on high heels, of course, what serves as the cherry on the top. The jacket is slightly open, forms a symmetric triangle, and the right border of the jacket and the cut of the dress reveals some skin. If the photographer had been one centimeter to the right, we would not see any cut, any skin. The last decoration is then the microphone in the 80s version with a cable which – of course – does not simply falls onto the ground and disappears in the dark background. No, it forms a half circle and vanishes indeed into the background but shortly below her left knee.

Tina Turner - Tina Live 1985 - Back Cover Photo
Tina Turner – Tina Live 1985 – Back Cover Photo

Long-term effects

For me and surely for others as well, that photo stands for 80s rock music and the women who dominated the scene. Big hair, jeans and leather, a certain eternal youth but still a good deal of handmade music which required you to have a cable attached to your mic. Tina Turner pretty much synthesizes all of these elements in that photo from her 1985 tour as we can simply find major elements of that time depicted in that live shot. There are more, there are others iconic live photos featuring her in full flight but it is that one which summarizes 80s rock women.

4 Replies to “Iconic photos: Private Dancer Live”

  1. This is my absolute favourite live photo of Tina, possibly my favourite of her period. I bought a big poster of this shot on ebay a few years ago and it is now framed and on my wall. The stance is awesome, her legs look incredible and her mouth is so sexy in this shot. Also, it’s the best outfit, in my opinion, she has ever worn on stage. I would have loved to have seen her rock it again on her last tour, like Cher does with her Turn Back Time outfit on her current (cancelled) one.

    Thanks guys for the in depth post. Without any new news you still provide us with our Tina fix…and in such unique ways.


  2. It’s when all the elements of the universe come together in one spot at the exact same time! I think this was my first poster at age 11 🙂 Fun article !!


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