Friday, March 12, 2010

Her Royal Rock Goddess

Music concerts have never played that large a part in my entertainment life but the ones I have enjoyed have been nothing short of once-in-a-lifetime events, including two spoken-word opportunities to hear Bill Cosby at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Miss Maya Angelou at the Myerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, Texas. Well, "hear" Bill Cosby might be a misnomer as my younger sister and I spent most of the evening doubled-over and crying tears of laughter during the famous "Dentist" routine.

A friend of mine took me to see Stevie Wonder "In the Round" at the old Reunion Arena in Dallas for my birthday one year while the highlight year for me was 1997 when I saw five different acts, including Bruce Springsteen at the Oakland Coliseum, the Prince "Emancipation" and Fleetwood Mac "Dance" tours within days of each other at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California and the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson's "HIStory" tour at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

It was particularly hard to choose which of these was the best of the best since each offered a different style of music, evoked different personal memories and feelings and presented different levels and values of production. They all fell short, however, of the original Rock Goddess, Miss, Lady, Her Histrionic Highness, Dame Tina Turner. Where music is a highly personal choice and some do not prefer her body of work there has always been the consensus that her story of survival is at least among the most compelling and miraculous of them all.

I missed the "Private Dancer" and "Break Every Rule" tours and wasn't old enough to see the decidedly adult shows that she fronted during the "Ike and Tina Turner Review" days in the late 60s and early 70s. My first audience with Her Musical Majesty was the "What's Love" Tour, an Americanized version of the "Foreign Affair" production that had taken all of Europe by storm. I was on the lawn in general seating at the Shoreline Amphitheater but felt as if I was the only one in attendance, certainly not the last time I would feel that way in her presence. I sat in the outer section of reserved seats at the same venue for her next visit and arguably high-water mark, the "Wildest Dreams" Tour at the tender age of 57. Fifty-seven? To this day an aunt of mine laments that she and Ms. Turner share the same age but by no means the same genes!

The Year 2000 found me in London, England on business for my employer at the time. I had contacted a cousin who had never been to England to join me for a few days over the weekend because I had a big surprise planned for her. My colleagues in London had presented me with tickets to Tina Turner's "24/7, One Last Time" Tour on the very day of my birthday. I told my cousin my plans were only to take her through Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath for our one day out in the countryside.

The performance was the first music event at the brand new Millenium Dome in Cardiff, Wales and the shocked look on my cousin's face remains a treasured moment to this day. And Her Rockness did not disappoint.

The seats were the closest I'd yet come to the stage, I discovered a new band from Australia, "Taxiride" who did a solid job as the first of three acts on the bill, to be followed by John Fogerty himself, author of Tina's signature song, "Proud Mary." We were breathless when she invited him onstage for the opening "nice and easy" part of the classic song and out of breath indeed when it was all over.

Of course I saw the "50th Anniversary" Tour, her last, in 2008; as if! And for me, finally, after all these years of respect and admiration, I got as close to my wish as anybody in a 20,000 seat venue (The United Center at Chicago) could hope for. I met her.

Sort of. Saying her good-byes to the audience at the end of the evening, she walked over to my side of the arena and, pointing to me, Anna Mae Bullock, "Miss Tina Turner" blew me a kiss, waved and was gone.

Gotta go.

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