The Story of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It”
OWhen Tina Turner died Wednesday after a half-century career full of legendary anthems, many remembered her as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” But the chart-topping hit she may be most remembered for isn’t a rock song — and that fact nearly prevented the song from being released.
“What’s Love Got to Do With It,” which debuted in 1984, spent 28 weeks on the Billboard charts, including three at No. 1, making it one of the top six hits of Billboard’s solo career. Turner. The single went gold, and the album it appeared on surpassed 5 million units sold; the song also provided the title for a Turner biopic of the same name, for which lead actress Angela Bassett was nominated for an Oscar.
Learn more: Tina Turner on what makes Angela Bassett great
But “What’s Love Got To Do With It” was different from Turner’s previous hits.
The singer, whose career was launched in the 1960s and 1970s, first rose to prominence through the success of her collaboration with her then-husband, Ike Turner. The musical duo released songs like “River Deep-Mountain High”, “Nutbush City Limits” and “Proud Mary”, which quickly became classics.
The end of their marriage, after years of domestic violence which Turner made public in the 1980s, closely followed her abandonment by her label, Capitol Records. Turner credited David Bowie, who also signed with Capitol, for helping her re-sign in 1983. Turner then released her fifth solo album “Private Dancer”, which featured “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and launched a new, triumphant phase of his career.
But Turner initially had reservations about the song. “Did you know that when I first read the lyrics to ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ I rejected the song?” Turner wrote in an Instagram post. from 2021. The artist was suspicious that the single leaned more into the pop genre instead of its typical R&B and rock and roll, even going so far as to call the song “terrible”, according to the 2021 HBO documentary . Tina.
“What’s Love Got To Do With It”, revealed by this documentary, was only released after Turner’s manager, Roger Davies, pushed Turner to meet music producer Terry Britten.
Britten collaborated with engineer John Hudson to rework the song to better match Turner’s style, convincing her to sing it with a softer tone than the usual belt she was known for, the Washington. Job reports. It worked: “What’s Love Got to Do With It” won three Grammys, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
More must-reads from TIME