Leaving on Silent Wings
After the passing of the legendary Tina Turner, long-time Bengalureans speak of her key influence in shaping the city’s rock ‘n’ roll culture .
BENGALURU: Before fans preached Madonna like a prayer, before Britney Spears was in the zone before Lady Gaga had her bad romance, and before Beyoncé ran the world, there was Tina Turner...forging the path for the future to follow. When the quintessential ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ breathed her last on May 24 at the age of 83, she left a world bereaved and mournful. The Garden City happens to be among the many lands that rocked to Turner’s music and long-time Bengalureans feel Turner’s absence on the rock ‘n’ roll charts, a little more than others.
Thespian and author Kirtana Kumar (57) refers to Bengaluru of the ’80s as the ‘loosey-goosey Bangalore Cantonment that birthed many mavericks and other souls willing to walk down roads less taken’. During that ‘maverick’ era in 1985, a 19-year-old Kumar starred in an ode to Tina Turner for Doordarshan (DD). “It was all Kevin Oliver’s idea and conceptualisation. He wrapped me in aluminium foil and a black leatherette mini, had me hanging out of the-then newly constructed glass elevator of the hotel Le Meridien and shot a music video of me singing Turner’s We Don’t Need Another Hero for Doordarshan Kendra, Bangalore. It was done so long ago...before music videos in India were a thing. I just had a blast! It continued to play on DD for some years because I’d have friends and strangers tell me about it,” recalls Kumar.
Pervin Varma (58), a musician and professional working in the development sector, discovered Turner when she released her comeback solo record Private Dancer in 1984. “I had always grown up seeing her and Ike Turner as a duo, but I got into her music after Private Dancer dropped. Experiencing her sheer artistry and musicianship, and the fact that she came back in such a big fashion at the age of 44, which was unheard of. We were in college in those days and there was a thriving live music scene. Back then, Bangalore was one of the few places to have all-women electric bands who were playing fully rock music. It was quite radical. Artistes like Turner and Pat Benatar inspired women to realise that they could rock too,” shares Varma. Interestingly, when Private Dancer dropped, 44-year-old Turner became the oldest female solo artiste to top the Billboard Hot 100 list.
Music producer and mentor Richard Andrew (47) was heartbroken to find out about Turner’s passing last week. “Tina has been one of my inspirations. She led a hard life especially her abusive relationship with her former husband Ike. So, for her to shine despite all the constraints and overcome all obstacles, I took that personally. It was heartbreaking to hear of her passing because she and Michael Jackson are the biggest influences in my career and even in some of my students’ careers. I have put together so many events for women who rock, and Tina has always been a popular feature, even to this day. I have taught so many students who love performing her songs,” he says.
Turner’s influence is not just restricted to the ‘mavericks’ (in Kumar’s words) of the city but the future generations as well. One of Andrew’s mentees, Tanya Shanker (17) sang a cover of Turner’s hit The Best, as a tribute to the late singer a couple of years ago. “People continue to be her fan. Singing one of her songs on stage was definitely a technically challenging experience. I tried a lot to emulate her closely, but you can never compare to her,” says Shanker.
When you Google Tina Turner on the search bar, Google responds by asking ‘Are you looking for: simply the best’. It may be an error on their part but also...maybe not. Maybe we were looking for the best and maybe that’s why we looked her up.