Tina's 60th Birthday
Hello magazine, November 2, 1999
Surrounded by the sumptusness of her mansion in the south of France, Tina Turner oozes sexuality. Its hard to believe the raunchy songstress will turn 60 at the end of this month. But for the singer who once famously said she still plans to work when she's 90, age is unimportant and, with the hits still flowing, the ever- youthful rock diva has good reason to be in buoyant mood.
Tina has celebrated her birthday early with the release of yet another single, When the Heartache is Over, from her latest album, Twenty Four Seven. And her landmark year has already been recognised by a flood of tributes. Earlier this month she collected the coveted lifetime achievement award at the MOBO Awards (Music of Black Origin), and ITV will mark her extraordinary life with a TV special close to her big day, November 26th.
Although thrilled by the accolades, Tina is not interested in dwelling on her past. While many retrospects have focused on her relationship with singer Ike Turner, she points out that the story of their unhappy marriage has already been well and truly documented in both her autobiography, I Tina, and later in the movie, What's Love Got To Do With It. And despite her heartbreak over the recent death of her 86-year-old mother, Zelma, the entertainer prefers to look towards the future. With her apparently inexhaustible energy, Tina is aiming to add to her 17 top ten hits and 60 million records sold worldwide. While she will no doubt perform her famously raunchy shows to sold out auditoriums during her upcoming world tour, planned for next June.
Off-stage she has just finished decorating Anna Fleur, her French hideaway in the town of Ville-Franche on the Cote d'Azur, which she shares with long-time German partner, record boss Erwin Bach. And the moment she swung open the doors to give us a guided tour, it was clear the queen of rock is very much a homebody, as she dwelt on every detail of the house she has lovingly decorated. "Finally finishing the work on this house has given me a tremendous sense of achievement,", she says from her balcony overlooking a suburb view of Nice below. "I am delighted with the way it has finally come together. It's full of the dreams I had while I was travelling - only its better than I anticipated."
It was Tina's Australian manager, Roger Davies, who first saw, and encouraged her to buy, the French home. Knowing her love for Europe, which the singer considers home, he felt sure she'd fall in love with the house, which nestles in four acres of forested hills. In addition to Anna Fleur, Tina already owns another home in Zurich, Switzerland, which she had only just renovated before transforming her French retreat. "I love the mountains and greenery," she says, breathing in the crisp, fresh air high above the Mediterranean. "When I come home, I still find the scenery overwhelming and that's after 14 years of living in Europe."
If I'm in America for work, I find myself hunkering to return. I may be an American in a foreign country but I am very happy, very comfortable and very contented here. Europe offers me security. It is a place where I have found more success, more appreciation, and that makes me feel confortable. And of course I am fortunate to have two lovely homes here and this is where my relationship is based." Having insisted on preparing a light lunch, Tina throws together a leafy green salad and makes a delicious pesto sauce from scratch, to add to healthy fresh pasta. Someone who loves eating al fresco in typical Mediterranean style, Tina has the table set outside near the barbecue where she and Erwin often enjoy a romantic meal together in the evening. While the couple can obviously afford a personal chef, its Erwin who does most of the cooking. She admits, "Nowadays I find extravagant cooking for large groups of people less and less interesting and the preparation involves too much work. Erwin is a very good cook and he does a lot of it. In general, we eat pasta galore, a lot of Thai food, chicken, prawns, and loads of salads."
She talks animatedly about her life with Erwin, who is 16 years her junior. But, although people seem to be constantly fascinated about whether they will marry or not, Tina is deliberate in her choice of words when discussing the subject. "He does not want children anymore, so we don't need to marry because we live like a married couple anyway." "The reason we have been together so long is because we are very honest with each other and I just think at this point a wedding would simply be one big party - and we have parties all the time. Besides I don't need an excuse to wear wonderful dresses. And I don't need that attention. I am secure."
While she refuses to discuss the past, Tina does have four children, with whom she has never cut ties." My own are 41 and 39 years old, there are also Ike's other two children who are even older. The mother side of me still cares about them but they have not really found their place in life yet. Maybe they are late bloomers. I'm waiting to see."
As a Bryan Adams song blares in the background, Tina launches into a story about how she worked on the house, despite often being thousands of miles away on tour. "In the beginning. I rented a place nearby so I could personally oversee the building work and then later, when I was on tour, I continued organising everything over the phone," she says, breaking off a healthy portion of crusty bread." On my days off, I loved going shopping to find things for the house and would come back with sample after sample."c Tina Turner is a woman who knows exactly what she wants. At work, she oversees each minute detail from the choreography to the outfits worn by the dancers and, if necessary, tells the musicians to curb their language.
Everything she does is deliberate. Which is why she laughs when describing how the designers, who specially flew in from the States, were shocked to discover that the bulk of decorating had already been done before they arrived.
"I only really wanted them to cast a professionally eye over the place and help hang the artwork correctly,"she syas matter-of-factly "They changed the odd mirror here and there, but I was confident about what I had already done.They did try to split up my Louis Philippe furniture and moved some of it into the bedroom, but I insisted that it stayed togetheras a set."
People who visit the Queen of Rock at home for the first time are often surprised by what they find. They expect her wild stage performancesto somehowbe reflected in her taste in interiors, only to discover it is both classic and simple. The singer of hits like What's Love ..., Private Dancer and River Deep, Mountain High, says people often seem to expect her to keep up her raunchy image all the time. "They come here and and expect to find everything to be modern with the furniture made of leather," she says. "And it's not. I like classic things. I love walking around the gardens of old homes." If her style of interior design is conservative, other gestures are lessso. Such as having an amphitheatre built in her backyard, for example.
But then, for a rock 'n' roll star who loves entertaining as much as she likes to perform, it is entirely functional. It has already been put to good use, and will continue to be, with a number of special events planned for the near future. Never one to forget those who have helped her in her rise to stardom, Tina plans to dedicate the house-warming party to the man who first encouraged her to buy it - Roger Davies, who also looks after Cher and Janet Jackson. "We've had a very successful working relationship of almost three decades and I want to share that with a lot of people," she syas. "My dream is to make it very formal, with coctails served in the front garden and me greeting guests in a white tuxedo.." The amphitheatre will also be called into service, for a fancy dress karaoke evening she also aims to hold. "I want everyone to get into a Greek mood," she adds.
"I have a karaoke machine, so everybody has to perform. I want them to be the stars. Meanwhile I'm planning to sing some opera which is the last thing they'll expect." After lunch, she continues the tour, taking us into the personal domain of her bedroom. When she doesn't have a packed itinerary and is rlaxing at home, her biggest indulgence is breakfast in bed. "I love those days when it's raining outside,"she says, plonking herself on the inviting four-poster bed with its plumped-up pillows. "I love to sit up and have breakfast as I look out over Nice from up here on the top of the mountain." Off to ine side of her bedroom is a huge walk-in wardrobe, filled with outfits by her favourite designers - from classic Armani trousers to Yohhji Yamamoto shirts - and neat rows of shoes.
But despite being renowned for her legendary shopping expeditions, the grandmother twice over claims that she likes to recycle her clothes in the same way as she re-upholsters her comfortable old sofas. Similarly, while most of us would expect exercise to be the secret of her eternal youth, it's simply not on the menu. Nor, according to Tina, does it need to be, because life on the road, singing and dancing since the age of 17, has kept her fit and healthy - and those fabulous legs and figure permanently in shape. It is something of a surprise, perhaps, that her continued appeal and staying power has not resulted in more forays into the world of acting. Although she'd be interested if Hollywood came up with another suitable movie offer, she syas, Tina has been in the business long enough to realise that strong, black female parts are thinon the ground. "I'm often offeredroles as a prostitute,"she syas, laughing out loud.
"But I am not prepared to do anything unless it's as good as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome." And looking around the luxurious haven she has created on the shores of the Mediterranean, it's clear that it would take a very special role to prise her away at all.