Biographical Poetry posted January 7, 2024

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Simply the Best!

The Late Great Tina Turner

by Debbie D'Arcy

Her cotton-picking days would mark
a childhood passing by
when life for her was Rough and stark
and love in short supply.
She yearned the Open Arms of kin
but that was not to be.
Abuse at home caused pain within,
her mother forced to flee.
A tomboy in her teenage years,
so clearly no-one's fool
and, spirited in social spheres,
she'd Break (most) Ev'ry Rule.
For meeting Ike, she'd not take 'no' 
with steadfast rule of thumb - 
to join his band, sing blues and show
a Change is Gonna Come!
With steely craft, he'd patent her
and groom her famous name.
On Silent Wings, she'd fly, concur -
as Tina she became.
Two People, wedded, rose to fame
and one much further still,
but, in that game, her song would claim
an ugly, bitter pill.
For, though this Fool in Love had found
fulfilment ever near,
Ike's vicious rage would oft abound,
infusing her with fear.
Through glitter years, her fans would spot
the majesty she lit.
Her anthem mocked in What's Love Got
(or not) to Do with It!
For, in the end, his sense took flight
with drugs and fame to blame.
She'd end this mean, abusive fight
that wrought domestic Shame.
So, all alone, this songster went,
though straitened, she survived.
And with her Private Dancer meant
that Tina had arrived.
With mini skirt and massive hair
and legs insured with gold;
those younger Girls would flaunt that flair
to fit the Tina mould.
Then passion bloomed with Erwin Bach
beyond her Wildest Dreams.
With chemistry, there lit a spark 
of lasting love, it seems.
For nigh on forty years he'd be
her rock through age and fear.
Though still beset by ghosts,* she'd see
that Paradise is Here.
From dirt-poor roots, she made the leap
and touched the cloudless sky.
Her funky sound* went River Deep
(and soared to) Mountain High.
And, even though life bore its toll,
she fought off all the rest.
This icon, Queen of Rock and Roll, 
would Simply (be) The Best!

Poem of the Month contest entry



Tina Turner 1939 - 2023.
Image courtesy of Google free pics; factual sources: Wikipedia and numerous other biographies.
Video: courtesy of You Tube - 1990 Farewell European Tour at the Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, Spain, in front of 70,000 fans.

Song titles have been used for the poetic purpose of this biography and may not necessarily relate to the context or period of the songs. They may also be slightly amended or shortened to accommodate the meter. The dates in the brackets below refer to original release). Thank you for your kind understanding.

Stanzas 1-2: Rough (1978 3rd solo studio album); Open Arms 2004 from the album, All the Best).
Rising from humble beginnings in Tennessee, Anna Mae Bullock grew up, largely separated from her parents, and put in the care of her strict paternal grandparents. After the war, she and her two sisters were reunited with her parents briefly before her mother, without warning, fled the abuse of her husband. Tina was eleven years old. Two years later, after her father remarried, she was sent to live with her maternal grandparents. She never felt loved or wanted by her parents.

Stanza 3 - 4: Break Every Rule (1976); Change is Gonna Come (1988)
A self-professed tomboy, she was very sporty and extrovert. Her determination to join Ike's band would simply not take 'no' for an answer. It was either a case of working in a hospital or singing in Ike's band. There was no contest!

Stanza 5: On Silent Wings (1996 Self-written and featuring English musician, Sting).
Juggy Murray, president of R&B label, Sue Records, after hearing her sing A Fool in Love (written by Ike) was so impressed that he advanced Ike $25k for the recording and publishing rights. He also convinced him to make her the star of the show. This triggered Ike's response to rename and patent Tina Turner.

Stanza 6 - 7: Two People (1986); A Fool in Love (1960 debut single by the couple, the Ike and Tina Turner Revue)
The first time his violence instilled real fear in her was after recording A Fool in Love. She was pregnant with son, Ronnie, and told him that she wanted to end the relationship. His response was to throw a wooden shoe stretcher at her head. She opted to stay with him because she cared about him but also, it would seem, she had become inured to her own parental domestic abuse.

Stanza 8 - 9: What's Love Got to Do with it ( 1984); Shame, Shame, Shame (1982).
Ike's drug habit steadily increased and he became heavily addicted to cocaine. Likewise, his mental health issues deteriorated with Tina in the firing-line. She stayed with him until 1976 but later revealed that she had attempted suicide during their relationship. She also claimed, latterly, that he was bi-polar.

Stanza 10: Private Dancer ( 1984 song written by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits from 5th solo album of the same name)
Struggling financially, with a family to support (between them, they had one son and three other children from previous relationships), Tina experienced a slump in her career. The one thing she'd taken from the divorce was her name. Private Dancer launched her back on the world stage, complete with big hair, mini skirt and, of course, those famous legs!

Stanza 11: Girls (1986 Written by David Bowie)
She wanted to be remembered as "A woman who showed that it is okay to strive for success on their own terms."
Not actually for gold! She insured her legs for $3.2m.

Stanza 12- 13: Wildest Dreams (1996 Her ninth solo studio album); Paradise is Here (1996).
She met music producer, Erwin Bach (sixteen years her junior), in 1986. It was love at first sight for her although it took until 2013 for the couple to marry. In the same year he saved her life by donating one of his kidneys. He also supported her through multiple life-threatening illnesses, including intestinal cancer, and declared that she was still suffering nightmares and *PTSD from all the physical and emotional abuse she had suffered at the hands of her late husband. Added to this, in that same traumatic year, she faced the utter heartache of her eldest son, Craig, committing suicide, while, nine years later, her second son, Ike, died of cancer in 2022.

Stanza 14: River Deep, Mountain High ( 1966 studio album)
Juggy Murray (referred to above) described her *funky sound as like "screaming dirt," before launching her on her career.

Stanza 15: Simply the Best (1991); The Best (1988)
In what must have been one of her last interviews before she died in Switzerland May 24th 2023, she told The Guardian newspaper that she wanted to be remembered as the Queen of Rock and Roll.

Throughout her career, she won twelve Grammys and was a two-time inductee into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist and as part of her duo with Ike.
She also inspired an award-winning musical based on her incredible life - the story of the star who achieved stratospheric success including sales of more than 100 million records worldwide, after overcoming years of abuse from both her father and late husband and push-back from those who told her she couldn't make it as a solo star!

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