Ike and Tina Turner American Tour
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."
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.'" Christopher R. Weingarten