Tina Turners’s comeback in the 80’s: made possible thanks to Olivia Newton-John and Roger Davies
Legendary performer and Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll Tina Turner passed away on May 24 at the age of 83 at her home in Küsnacht, near Zurich in Switzerland. Tina had been ill for a very long time but passed away peacefully, her publicist said in a statement. Her death was also announced on her social media pages.
The Aussie connection
Few people may know that there have been several Australian connections in Tina’s life, such as that with her longtime manager Roger Davies (born in Melbourne, Australia) who at the time of Tina’s comeback in the 1980’s was also Olivia Newton-John’s manager.
Tina got to know Roger Davies through Lee Kramer, who was Olivia Newton-John’s manager (and boyfriend – although it started out the other way: he was her boyfriend first, and then became Olivia’s manager. After Olivia and Lee split up Roger became her manager, and a very successful one too). In her autobiography Tina writes how she first became acquainted with Lee and Roger:
“Rava Daly, one of my dancers, kept talking about a manager she knew named Lee Kramer, whose client at the time was Olivia Newton-John. Rava urged me to talk to Lee and his associate, an Australian named Roger Davies, who had just come to America. I listened to her and made an appointment to see them.”
Tina talked to Lee and Roger, who decided to be her manager after they attended one of her shows in San Francisco. She writes:
“Roger and Lee came backstage after the show. Lee was appreciative, but Roger was really enthusiastic, which pleased me enormously because I could tell that he was the hungry one, the one who would do the work.”
And did he do the work! We all know how successful Tina’s comeback in the eighties turned out to be.
Being the managers of both Olivia and Tina, Lee Kramer and Roger Davies found a way to promote Tina’s comeback in the States by making use of Olivia’s enormous popularity at the time. They agreed that Tina would be a guest on Olivia’s upcoming TV show Hollywood Nights which was to be aired on Oscar night in 1980. It was a star-studded special with appearances by Elton John, Cliff Richard, Andy Gibb, Gene Kelly, Toni Tennille, Karen Carpenter, Peaches, and Tina Turner.
The ladies gave a wonderful rendition of Heartache Tonight and Tina was definitely back on track.
You can also watch a full version of the Hollywood Nights show on You Tube.
The show also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding achievement in tape sound mixing – 1980
Rumour has it that Olivia’s smash hit Physical was first offered to Tina Turner – other stories say it was written with a male singer like Rod Stewart in mind. Physical also has another Aussie connection since it was written by Australian Steve Kipner, who after the huge world-wide success of Physical became a well-known and successful songwriter for other artists as well.
Olivia writes in her memoir Don’t Stop Believin‘ (2018) about Physical being offered to Tina and then was passed on to her:
“In 1981, Aussie songwriter Steven Kipner and British musician Terry Shaddick wrote a very catchy song called ‘Physical’ for Tina Turner. Tina thought the lyrics were a bit sexy for her and suggested to Roger Davies, her manager and my friend, that they offered it to me. (Thanks, Tina!)”
And as they say: the rest is history!
Just before the official release of Physical Roger had become Olivia’s manager full time after Olivia and Lee had split up earlier and found it difficult to continue their working relationship (at the time Olivia was already dating her future husband Matt Lattanzi).
My Love Story – Tina’s autobiography
Having been a professional translator for close to twenty years I was asked, in 2018, to translate Tina’s memoir My Love Story into Dutch. I gladly excepted the chance to work on conveying the story of an artists I had admired for many years. It was an honour to get to know Tina page by page. And what a story she had to tell!
Tina Turner has more than once said that buddhism saved her life. She wrote about it in Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good, which was published in 2020.
In 2021 Olivia posted a video about her having been inspired by the book and Tina responded with a kind message to thank her.
You can watch Olivia’s message below.
Dolfilms: fundraiser for the ONJCWRC and the ONJ Foundation
Dolfilms is a fundraiser for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre and the ONJ Foundation Fund. A portion of the proceeds of photo sales will be donated. I sell stock photos and POD product through several outlets. This year I have added a special ONJ Collection to my Zazzle shop to raise funds as part the annual Olivia’s Walk For Wellness.
Find out more about the Zazzle collection here.