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#50GreatestConcerts: Ike & Tina Turner, 1969

Ike and Tina won over American audiences with wild, sweat drenched covers of the new rock & roll canon

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Ike and Tina Turner in 1969. Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Ike and Tina Turner in 1969. Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

The Rolling Stones‘ return to America in 1969, after three years away ”“ a period that included Beggars Banquet and the death of guitarist Brian Jones ”“ was what critic Robert Christgau described as “history’s first mythic rock & roll tour.” But on the 17-date spin through the States, time and again they were upstaged by their handpicked opening act, old friends Ike and Tina Turner and their combustible R&B revue.

The Stones met Ike and Tina among Phil Spector’s orbit in England. “I’d always see Mick in the wings,” Tina remembered of performances in the mid-Sixties. “I’d come out and watch him occasionally; they’d play music and Mick would beat the tambourine. He wasn’t dancing. And lo and behold, when he came to America, he was doing everything!” Jagger later admitted he “learned a lot of things from Tina.”

In the U.S., Ike and Tina won over a new audience with wild, sweat drenched covers of the new rock & roll canon, including a brassy burst through the Beatles’ “Come Together” (“I said to Ike,” recalled Tina, “ ”˜Please, please let me do that song onstage’ ”). They spun through Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and a high-octane version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” that, by 1971, would become their biggest hit. Their take on Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” garnered its share of attention too, thanks to an orgasmic bridge that eventually got even raunchier. “I don’t think it can go any further,” Tina said in 1971, “because, as they say in New York, it’s getting pornographic.”

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At Madison Square Garden, Joplin herself stopped by to assist on “Land of 1,000 Dances.” By the tour’s end, writers couldn’t control their enthusiasm. “Vogue said it best,” said Tina. ”˜They came to see Mick Jagger, but they saw Ike and Tina, and they’ve been comin’ ever since.’”

Click here to check out the entire story in the digital edition of Rolling Stone India. 

Watch Ike and Tina Turner perform during their appearance on ‘Playboy After Dark’ in 1969:

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