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Michaelangelo Matos

Michaelangelo Matos is the author of The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America. He is at work on a history of the music business in the mid-’80s. He lives in the Twin Cities.

“Prisoner of Your Love: How Tina Turner Came Back”
“What can you say about TINA TURNER?” begins Regency Artists’ circa-1982 bio of the R&B star. The Capitol Records biography, dated February 1984, gave an answer with a brand-new lead: “Tina Turner is a show business phenomenon!” By year’s end, it would be indisputably true. Turner in 1984 conquered pop on even grander terms than she had done first time around, in the late ’60s, when she and then husband Ike Turner rode the rock remake “Proud Mary” to the top of the pop charts, with nearly a decade’s worth of R&B hits already behind them.

The comeback of Tina Turner is one of pop and showbiz’s greatest triumphs. It’s a triumph of talent and savvy, but it’s also a unique confluence of many cultural currents: British soulboy culture, the rising awareness of domestic violence (Turner’s annus mirabilis came the same year as The Burning Bed, a TV-movie melodrama starring Farrah Fawcett as an abused woman who takes violent revenge on her husband), the persistence of ’60s “survivorship” on rock even after MTV—and, naturally, MTV itself.

I’ll trace Turner’s career from 1982—when she recorded with Heaven 17, setting the comeback in motion—through Live Aid. I’ve already mined several books and magazine archives for research, and I’ll be adding a lot more. But fitting a woman who kept her mettle even in the lean years by working the road harder than ever, the presentation’s backbone comes from a large cache of band files from the Minneapolis club First Avenue, where Turner performed each year from 1982 to 1984—the latter occasion on August 11. “What’s Love Got to Do with It” was number one on September 1. Those files include the bios quoted above, plus more, and much of it is similarly illuminating.

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