Tina Turner was a “real legend”, said Father Brian D’Arcy, who recalls meeting and chatting with the famous singer ahead of her Dublin show as she toured her album, ‘Private Dancer’, in 1985.
The much-loved singer, who was widely referred to as The Queen of Rock and Roll with well-known hits including ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘The Best’, died on Wednesday, May 24 at the age of 83 after a long illness.
Talking to The Impartial Reporter about the time he met the late superstar, Fr. Brian said: “She was on her world tour and there was an open air concert in the RDS in Dublin. I was asked to go in to see her before she went on stage.
“She was sitting quietly and she chanted before every show,” he said, explaining that although Tina held on to her Baptist upbringing, she found the practices of Buddhism, chanting and praying, beneficial for calming herself down.
“It was a way of discovering herself again after the abuse that she suffered,” said Fr. Brian, noting that at the time he met Tina, she had already been divorced from her abusive ex-husband, Ike Turner.
“Tina was an extraordinary singer, even as a child. She sang in a Baptist choir in Tennessee,” he said, talking about her background in music.
He added: “After that, there was a famous Rhythm and Blues Band where Ike Turner was the lead. She asked to sing with him but he didn’t want her to sing.
“But she got up one night and sang, and he suddenly discovered that this was his bread money.
“He came up with the name Tina Turner – she took his name, Turner, that was even before they married,” explained Father Brian, adding: “Anna Mae Bullock was her real name, so her professional name was Tina Turner.
“She said to me that evening [that we met] that once he discovered that she was his bread and butter for the rest of her life, she then realised he had to control her totally, otherwise she would leave and his livelihood would go.
“So he controlled her with brutality and terrible abuse; mental, psychological and she said spiritual too.
“Because of that she decided to leave, and in the divorce, all she got was two cars and the right to use her name. She fought tooth and nail [not to lose her name], so she wouldn’t have to start from scratch again,” he said.
Following her divorce from Ike, Tina went on to release her fifth solo studio album, ‘Private Dancer’, in 1984 – her first album released through the label Capitol Records.
Private Dancer was a worldwide commercial hit and propelled Tina into stardom.
“That was the tour she was doing when I met her at the RDS,” said Fr. Brian, recalling the “massive, massive crowd” at the concert.
When asked how their private meeting came about, he explained: “There was a press conference which I was at, but when that was over, the promoter asked me to go in and sit with her for a while because it was a while before she was to go on stage.
“I was nervous to go in [to meet her backstage] because she was such a superstar, but she was very kind, and we had a good chat.
“She was doing her chanting routine and she also told me that she chanted in this Buddhist way in the hope that she might bring healing to anybody who needed healing in the audience,” he said, adding: “She always called herself ‘a Baptist-Buddhist’.
“She didn’t want to say that she had deserted her religion of childhood, which was Baptist, where she learned to sing with feeling, and where she learned to use her voice as her best prayer.”
On learning of Tina’s passing, Fr. Brian said that he was sad but he was “always happy” that she became a great spokesperson as a survivor of domestic violence.
“She had a way of surviving it and making it on her own, and she was able to tell her story.
“She was a real legend,” Fr. Brian told this newspaper.