Learn more about Tina Turner's life before seeing 'Tina - The Tina Turner Musical'
You may have read it in her autobiography or seen it on screen, but since 2019, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical has showcased Tina Turner’s life onstage. Adrienne Warren won a 2020 Tony Award for shaking a tail feather as the rock icon. But when you squeeze a 50-year career into a three-hour musical, some things have to give, right? As it turns out, not all that much.
Tina - The Tina Turner Musical is a very accurate retelling of Tina Turner’s life — Turner herself was involved in the entire creative process! She approved every detail, from how the characters were portrayed to the way she performed her signature dance moves. And of course, the major highlights of Tina’s life and career are all there, from her breakout era as part of Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm band to her solo career that solidified her as the Queen of Rock and Roll.
We’ve broken down some facts and key points in Turner’s life to see how accurate they are in the musical, and rounded up some even more fun Tina Turner facts that you won’t see on stage. Once you’ve learned about the show, head over to the Aldwych Theatre in London and see Tina for yourself — you’ll be welcomed with open arms.
Tina Turner isn’t her real name.
Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee. She started singing in churches from a young age, which got her interested in a singing career — this is how Tina: The Tina Turner Musical opens!
Her first stage name was Little Ann. Ike Turner told her to change it to Tina Turner when she joined his band. But Turner never forgot her roots — one of the musical’s show-stopping numbers is “Nutbush City Limits,” the song Turner wrote as a tribute to her hometown.
Tina and Ike Turner had a difficult relationship after becoming musical and romantic partners
The Tina musical doesn’t shy away from the ugly truth of Tina and Ike Turner’s relationship. Soon after Turner joined his band and they fell in love, Turner became the star of the band, and he turned to abuse. His treatment of Tina led to their eventual breakup, both as lovers and as musicians, and some of the lowest points in Turner’s life.
A few small details of their relationship were changed for the musical. For example, they get married in Mississippi to help secure their futures in Tina, but in real life, they had a whirlwind marriage in Tijuana that Turner only found about the day of. And although this isn’t a change or inaccuracy, per se, Turner wanted the musical to include their abusive relationship but also “reframe Ike” and “give him his humanity,” book writer Katori Hall said in an interview with NPR.
Tina Turner reinvented herself as a solo artist in the 1980s
She’s got the iconic wig to prove it! After leaving Ike, Tina Turner spent time in the ’70s barely scraping by as a Las Vegas singer who can’t sing any of the songs that made her famous since Ike had copyrighted them all. At first, too, no record label would sign her as a solo artist because she was a Black woman who was almost 40.
But the Australian music producer Roger Davies noticed and likes her, and with his help she launched her solo career — and the rest is history. The musical stays faithful to that whole story, including how Turner sometimes went against Roger’s advice for what kind of music she should make. Turner’s decisions paid off big-time!
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical includes all of Turner’s biggest hits
Yes — all of Turner’s greatest hits are in the Tina musical! You’ll get to rock out to “Proud Mary,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It?,” “River Deep Mountain High,” “Shake a Tail Feather,” and so many more during this concert-like show.
The biggest change is that even though Tina tells Turner’s life story in chronological order, her songs don’t appear in the order they were released. Some of Tina’s hits from after she became a solo act in the ’80s, for example, are sung before the dramatic transformation actually happens. But you already know she reinvents herself, so you’ll be rocking out all the same!
Fun facts about Tina Turner
The musical covers most of Turner’s life up to her retirement as a performer in 2009, but with such a rich life up to and after that point, not even Tina can cover it all in three hours! Can’t get enough of Tina Turner? Here are even more fun facts about her that didn’t fit into the musical.
- Tina isn’t the first retelling of the rock icon’s life. She’s written multiple autobiographies, and a 1993 biopic called What’s Love Got to Do with It starred Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as Tina and Ike Turner. There’s even another musical, Soul Sister, about Turner that came out in 2012.
- The Tina musical almost didn’t happen. After writing her latest autobiography, My Love Story, in 2018 and lending her story to the 1993 film, she didn’t want to relive the lows of her life, like her relationship with Ike Turner, again for a musical. But the producers convinced her: “There’s no one else to tell them the story because everyone is gone,” Turner said in a 2018 interview with Oprah Winfrey. “I got involved with [the musical] and now I feel proud of it.”
- To honor the Nutbush, Tennessee native, Tennessee State Route 19 was renamed Tina Turner Highway in 2001.
- Turner is a music icon, but she’s also a movie star. She played the psychedelic Acid Queen in the 1975 film Tommy based on The Who’s rock-opera album, which later became a Broadway musical (she wasn’t in the stage version, though). Turner also appeared in two action movies: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, and Last Action Hero in 1993.
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