Monday, June 24, 2024

Tina Turner’s Early 80s Career Revival Started with Famed Record Producer Richard Perry and the Beatles’ “Help”


Legendary record producer Richard Perry had already had dozens of hits in the 1970s with acts like Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, Leo Sayer, and the Pointer Sisters.

He writes in his memoir, “Cloud Nine,” that Tina Turner came onto his radar again in 1977 years after meeting her with Ike Turner.

“In 1981, Tina got her solo act together including
assembling a great band, plus her own version of The Ikettes, the name that Ike
had given the backup singers who danced and sang behind Tina. The most exciting
event of all was the announcement of Tina Turner’s official opening at a new club in
New York, The Roxy, owned by an old friend of mine, Jerry Brandt. I happened to
be in New York with Rod Stewart on the weekend of her opening, and we were both
eager to see Tina’s debut. Her show was off the charts! She had assembled some
inspired choices in material: Prince’s “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” a completely
unique interpretation of the Beatles’s “Help” (done as a soulful ballad), and her
outstanding cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” which became a big hit in
the U.K.

After the show, I immediately went to her dressing room where I complimented her
performance, for it truly was something special. I then told her, “Maybe the time is
right for us to finally get together and make some music,” which is exactly what we
did! I was beyond excited at the thought of signing Tina to Planet Records. We
even started recording before we had a contract.

Two songs that we initially cutwere: “Johnny and Mary” by Robert Palmer, featured in the movie “Summer Lovers,” and The Beatles’ “Help,” which brought the house down in the aforementioned solo
debut. A crew from ABC’s “20/20” came down to the studio to film us recording. If
there was any validation needed to confirm that it was really happening, this was

There was, however, one bump in the road. Since Tina had a Top 10 Record in the
UK with a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” her previous label, EMI, was
reluctant to release her in that territory. Therefore, I needed executive approval to
close the deal if it was anything less than worldwide. And since the UK would not
be part of the deal, RCA was shuffling their feet in getting back to me promptly.
Two weeks went by and I finally decided that come hell or high water, I was going
to make sure that RCA didn’t blow this deal. When I got back to Tina’s manager,
Roger Davies, I discovered that, much to my chagrin, he had signed her to EMI

Perry went back to producing hits with the aforementioned groups as well as “To All the Girls I Loved Before ” for Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias, and Diane Warren’s “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge. But he and Tina had a happy ending, When her album, “Private Dancer” won four Grammy Awards in 1985, it was Perry she asked to accompany her to the ceremony. Perry concludes: “I was the first person on my feet to lead the standing ovation.” They remained friends to the end.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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