RIP Tina Turner (1939-2023)

25th May 2023 · 1960, 1960s, 2020s, 2023, Music, Soul

Tina Turner’s career might never have got started if a backing singer had not failed to turn up for a recording session of this song in 1960.

If I was just a little older my introduction would surely have been with Phil Spector’s epic production River Deep – Mountain High in 1966. Instead I first heard Tina Turner’s astonishing voice on the irrepressible Nutbush City Limits in 1973.

A bit younger and it would have been Tina the 1980s belting out bombastic bangers in a succession of fright wigs and scraps of leopardskin, bellowing her way to the top of the charts.

They made her a superstar but had the unfortunate side-effect of obscuring the roots RnB with which she made her name a generation earlier with this, the first single from her first appearance on an album, The Soul Of Ike & Tina Turner.

When it was recorded, in March 1960, Ike had been on his uppers for a decade, ever since his landmark hit Rocket 88 – arguably the first rock’n’roll song – way back in 1951.

He had been working with a series of male front-men until the teenage Anna Mae Bullock gatecrashed a gig by his Kings of Rhythm Band during the intermission.

Even then, this song was earmarked for one of his male backing singers but when the man failed to turn up for the session, Ike asked one of his female Ikettes – “Little Ann” as she was known – to step forward and record the song.

A Fool In Love became a rare crossover hit from the RnB (ie. Black) charts to the actual Top 30 (ie. White) singles chart in the racially divided America of the time and the rest, as they say, is history.

Already her voice has enough power to provide electricity for all the homes in Nutbush and already you can see all the trademark moves we would associate with Tina over a career that lasted more than 60 years.
Tina genuinely broke down barriers, playing to mixed audiences at a time when that was pretty much unheard of, and the duo came to the UK to support The Rolling Stones, which must have been a double bill to remember.