David Bowie & Tina Turner: Did They Or Didn't They?...
Few would have predicted Tina Turner’s triumphant comeback in 1984, when Private Dancer put her on top of the album charts – least of all, perhaps, Turner herself. For years she was trapped in a toxic, abusive marriage with Ike Turner, the man who discovered her and transformed Anna-Mae Bullock from Nutbush, Tennessee, into an R&B superstar called Tina Turner. But the pair’s troubled relationship finally came to an end when they were on tour together in 1975, and Tina resolved to leave him for good.
With 36 cents to her name, Turner slipped away when her husband was asleep, escaping their hotel room in Dallas and making her way to a friend’s house. She found a good Samaritan in the shape of a lawyer friend, who paid for an aeroplane ticket for her to Los Angeles. Initially, she eked out a living by doing a cleaning job to pay her rent. After her divorce from Ike, in 1978, Turner began taking tentative steps to begin a new career as a solo performer. She had recorded albums under her own name before – as side projects while with Ike – but now she elected to begin her solo career proper with cabaret-style shows in Las Vegas. She released her third solo album, the disco-inflected Rough, in 1978, followed by the similarly styled Love Explosion, a year later, but they were both flops, indicating, perhaps, that Tina Turner had reached her sell-by date.
In her memoir, Turner goes into a bit more depth about how Bowie helped her with her solo career;
My Cinderella moment happened in New York at a club called the Ritz. Unknown to me, David Bowie had turned down an invitation from record-company executives to go out to celebrate the launch of his new album, Let's Dance.
He'd be busy that night, he said — he was going to see his favourite singer at the Ritz. Me!
Well, that started a stampede. Suddenly, my manager was being bombarded by calls from music executives who were desperate to get tickets. With David's seal of approval, I'd suddenly become infinitely more interesting. The show went really well — great energy and an audience that was with me every high-kicking step of the way. And afterwards, David came backstage with Keith Richards in tow.
The three of us were having such a great time talking about music (and passing round bottles of Jack Daniel's and champagne) that we didn't want the night to end. So we moved the party to Keith's suite at the Plaza Hotel.
Ron Wood dropped by, David started playing the piano and we jammed the night away. It was a rock 'n' roll dream. I didn't leave till early the next morning, when I hailed a taxi and headed back to reality.
A new reality, as it turned out, because that night at the Ritz changed my life dramatically. Capitol signed me to a record deal, as did EMI in England.
Bowie’s pioneering artistic strides have been well documented, he is also remembered for another reason; his promiscuity. Fluid like the music he wrote, the tales of Bowie’s sexual encounters are manifold. They range from having an alleged romance with Mick Jagger to a brief relationship with the mother of Guns N’ Roses axeman, Slash.
It is said that Bowie spent four years trying to seduce the iconic singer, and finally managed to do it by singing one of her biggest hits, ‘Proud Mary’, in a hotel room, wearing one of her wigs and nothing else.
In a 2020 interview with The Sun, her close friend and personal assistant, Eddy Hampton Armani, explained how it went down between two of the most iconic artists of all time, and it was classic Bowie. Sleazy, humorous and borderline lecherous, the vignette paints a picture of Bowie fancying himself as something of a modern-day Casanova rather than a pop star.
Armani said: “It was in 1985, and they were performing at Birmingham’s NEC on the UK leg of her Private Dancer tour. She told me David had already told her many times, ‘I want you’. I was asked to collect sushi from David’s favourite Mayfair restaurant in London and bring it up to Birmingham for them”.
He continued: “I arrived to see their sound-check on stage and they were teasing each other. Later they went back to the hotel and had the sushi. The next morning I went to Tina’s room and she was acting really strangely. She said, ‘Oh my god, David is so naughty’. She told me David came on to her and she said, ‘I thought, ‘Oh, we will have a bit of fun’. And they did”.
He recalled: “Then Tina started laughing and said, ‘He went to have a shower, then he walks out, stark naked, wearing one of my spare wigs. He started singing ‘Rolling On The River’ and was dancing just like me’.”
Hilariously, Armani appended in saying that this moment of “explosive chemistry” brought “a whole new meaning” to Turner’s 1984 hit ‘Private Dancer’. He didn’t end with the story there, though. Bowie had one last piece of mischief up his sleeve.
Armani explained how he went to the NEC for the show, and “David appeared at the top of a long flight of stairs on the stage. Tina turned around with the biggest smile that said, ‘I had an exciting night’. The atmosphere between them was electric”.
Armani remembers clearly: “On stage, he whispered something to her and Tina burst out laughing. She later told me he’d said, ‘My c**k is still sore’. He was one of only a few lucky men who won over Tina”.