As music fans the world over mourn the loss of Tina Turner on Thursday, we heard first-hand memories of the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll at Poole Arts Centre (as Lighthouse was known then) from Natalie Covell, whose late husband Tony is fondly remembered as its first Director...
I saw Tina Turner and her show at Lighthouse, Poole Arts Centre. She was thrilling, energetic, completely brilliant. The audience went mad. They loved her. My friend and I loved her – we considered standing on our seats but managed to refrain and go mad on the concert hall floor, which was literally bouncing by that time; we danced, cheered and roared with delight.
Tony and I had enjoyed the music scene in Connecticut, New York and Baltimore when we were in university. We saw Jimi Hendrix and Cream with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker live amongst others. Those concerts were LOUD and charged, but Tina was different. She was supercharged, dancing while she sang, pulling in the audience. She ran off stage after each big number and changed her outfit and was back on stage in a new look in minutes. I had never seen anything like it and haven’t since.
Tony, as Director and running the programming, was determined to book her when she was making her big comeback after leaving Ike. She liked the UK, and she wanted a good sized hall to start building more attention. He was so sure she was something very special, he convinced me to find a baby-sitter and drag along a friend – another wild-child of the 60s like me and now supposedly domesticated with home and children.
A few years ago, I saw Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, still playing in the West End. Tina went to some of the rehearsals and helped develop the show. I wonder if they might form a splinter company to tour….
Mrs Natalie Covell
:: It seems incredible now, but less than a year after it opened, Poole Arts Centre welcomed the force of nature that was Tina Turner for two shows in the space of less than three weeks – on 11 and 29 March 1979.
The first night was the opening night of a six-date UK tour with ticket prices ranging from £2 to £4
Described as a “robust, full-blooded, thoroughly entertaining spectacular”, it was such a success a second date was booked immediately for 29 March and following a short tour of Germany, she returned to play Poole again sandwiched between dates at London’s Apollo Theatre and Hammersmith Odeon.
Having split from her husband Ike in 1976, Tina toured almost continuously until 1980 to pay her debts. Dressed in Bob Mackie costumes and supported by four dancers, she performed cover versions of popular hits, some old ones from Ike & Tina, and new tracks from her solo records Rough and Love Explosion.
Tina returned to Poole Arts Centre in February 1984 as part of a UK tour on the back of her surprise hit single version of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. On that visit, she was booked into the five-star Carlton Hotel in Bournemouth only to refuse to stay there, preferring to be taken back to Bristol where she had stayed the night before in a Holiday Inn!
- Photo: By Philip Spittle – IMG_1645, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52830315