Rekindling memories of Tina Turner

Tina was not only a survivor but a true winner when she got out of that abusive relationship and established her solo career and earned world-wide fame in her forties.

Rekindling memories of Tina Turner

Singer Tina Tuner (Photo:Instagram/TinaTurne)

One benefit of living in Southern California is that one encounters all kinds of interesting people. One such person was Kelly, a mortgage broker by profession. I met her accidentally at an open house in the greater San Diego area.

She was helping the real estate agent holding the open house. A mortgage broker is an independent business person who works with several different banks and lending institutes and can help a customer in getting the best mortgage loan. I talked to her to understand the financial picture involved if I wanted to purchase the house.

It was clear that Kelly was very astute with numbers and understood her business well. I kept her business card. She later helped me in getting mortgage loans for two of my homes and a home equity line of credit on a third home. The year was 2005 and we were in the middle of a frenzy in buying real estate properties, which was a precursor to the subsequent meltdown in the market because of the socalled “subprime loan crisis”.


Kelly and I became good friends and we used to meet every month or every other month for lunch or coffee to discuss various things including personal situations.

However, I had no romantic interest in her because she had her eyes set on some very wealthy gentlemen in Del Mar. As time progressed, I noticed a gradual change in Kelly’s behaviour pattern and mannerism. It seems that she became more irrational and almost delusional on occasions.

One afternoon she showed up at my home completely unannounced with two African American gentlemen and a woman who was also African American. After exchange of pleasantries and brief introductions, Kelly described the purpose of their visit. Those two men were Hollywood entrepreneurs and seriously planning a start-up in the music business.

They were looking for investors. Kelly knew my financial situation and assets. She must have portrayed me as some type of fat cat. The woman was introduced as one of the backup dancers for the legendary Tina Turner during the early days of her career.

I assumed that she was brought along to convince me about the legitimacy of their business aspirations and connections with the music industry. Frankly, I do not remember what we discussed during that meeting but I do remember the woman. She was skinny but reasonably good looking.

She seemed to be sad, high on something and in daze during the entire time. She sat with her legs folded on the sofa and did not say a single word. While I was flattered by my image of a wealthy man inclined to help the music industry it was a false image. No one including Kelly knew that I had recently taken an early retirement package and ended my professional career. Even if I had money to spare, I would not have invested in such a risky venture with total strangers.

I disappointed them by expressing my lack of interest. I was fascinated by the woman though. I have always been a huge fan of Tina Turner from the time I landed in the USA.

The first time I saw her was in a live performance on the Johnny Carson show. She danced with three backup dancers and they were wild; each having long hair and wearing miniskirts which looked like grass skirts and gyrating their bodies every which way with high energy. I felt like I was watching a voodoo dance in some African jungle. It was hypnotic.

The look of the dancers was reportedly envisioned by Tina Turner’s exhusband Ike as “Queen Sheena of the jungle”. I have seen her many times on TV since then. I followed her solo career during the MTV era in the eighties.

I wish I could talk to the woman who visited my home and discuss Tina Turner’s music and her life with Ike. I do not remember her name and do not know if she was one of the original members, known as “Ikettes” – the backup dancers/vocalists for Ike and Tina Turner. The Ikettes became a famous group in their own right, with hit singles like “I’m blue”. Subsequently, other members joined the Ikettes.

Tina reportedly maintained a crew of 18 backup dancers during her prime period during the eighties. Perhaps my guest could have linked me up with Tina; almost certainly, if I agreed to invest with them. At one point, they suggested that we all go to dinner but I politely declined citing some prior commitments. Perhaps their hidden agenda was for this woman to entice me with her charm into agreeing to their business proposal.

I am glad that I did not get involved with them because I later learned that Kelly got hooked on cocaine – no doubt a result of her financially successful business offering subprime mortgage loans. Cocaine was presumably the common bond in her association with this trio of characters. They were probably all high when they came to my home.

Much of Tina’s tortuous early life was caused by abusive Ike, who was a cocaine-addict. Tina was not only a survivor but a true winner when she got out of that abusive relationship and established her solo career and earned world-wide fame in her forties. Upon hearing the news about Tina’s passing I am thinking of that woman, the backup dancer who visited my home.

I imagine her face and can only hear Tina Turner’s songs. Perhaps, the song is “I am your private dancer, dancer for money” because she came to me for money. Perhaps she was into cocaine and sad because of a failed romance and the song is “What’s love got to do with it?

What’s love but a second hand emotion?” I absolutely adore Tina for the way she sang about love and yet expressed her pain. Rest in peace, queen of rock!

(The writer, a physicist who worked in academia and industry, is a Bengali settled in America.)