The Comeback Queen of Rock and Roll

By Mark Nobes and Hannah Johnson

She didn’t just break the rules, she rewrote them. With her untold talent and incomparable drive, Tina Turner proved that she was a force to be reckoned with in the 80s – and beyond. This page is a celebration of her hit songs and albums, and we'll be taking a look at her incredible 1984 comeback with Private Dancer - You can watch the official playlist of videos above.
Tina Turner's career began in the 1950s with her husband, Ike Turner. Together, they rose to prominence during the 60s with a string of hits including "A Fool in Love", "Proud Mary" and "It's Gonna Work Out Fine". But by the 1970s, their marriage had soured and their partnership dissolved. Tina embarked on a solo career, determined to prove she could make it on her own.
In the 1980s, Turner catapulted to superstardom with her electrifying live performances, earning the title “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” She also cemented her reputation as a style icon, known for her glamorous looks and sultry dance moves. But Turner’s impact went far beyond her music and fashion. She achieved success on her own terms, transcending barriers of race, gender and age. In the process, she inspired other artists and broke down barriers for future generations.
Tina was also a successful actress, appearing in films like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and playing the lead role in the Broadway musical adaptation of The Who's Tommy.
But it was her music that truly defined her in the 1980s. She released a string of hits including "What's Love Got To Do With It", "We Don't Need Another Hero", "One of the Living", and "Private Dancer". She also duetted with some of the biggest names in music, including David Bowie, Bryan Adams, and Rod Stewart.
By the end of the decade, Tina Turner had become one of the most successful and popular artists in the world. She had conquered the charts, the stage, and the silver screen. She was an icon, and she showed no signs of slowing down.
Private Dancer LP front sleeve ft, Tina Turner sat next to a black cat

Tina Turner's Biggest 80s Hits

Here is a list of Tina's biggest hit songs from the 1980s. Chart positions shown are for the U.S. and UK, respectively.

1983 - Let's Stay Together - #26, #6

1984 - What's Love Got To Do With It -#1, #3

1984 - Better Be Good To Me - #5, #45

1984 - Private Dancer - #7, #26

1985 -Show Some Respect - #37,  -

1986 - Typical Male - #2, #37

1986 - Two People - #30, #43

1987 - What You Get Is what You See - #13, #30

1989 - The Best - #15, #5

1989 - Steamy Windows - #39, #13

Private Dancer (1984 Album)

During the 1970s, Tina's four studio albums failed to make any impact on either the British or US charts. Indeed, they were hard times for the singer, who in 1978, was trying to recover from divorcing musician Ike (after alleged domestic abuse) and make it as a solo artist. 

She hadn't released an album since Love Explosion in 1979, but her comeback began in earnest, with the release of Private Dancer in 1984, and it was heart-warming to see her back in the limelight and in the charts, where she truly belongs. The album was a massive success, launching several hit singles including "What's Love Got to Do with It" and "Better Be Good to Me", and every track on the album was a winner, with no pointless fillers.
The album sold around 250,000 units each week for 2 months in the U.S. Worldwide the album has been estimated to have sold over 20 million copies. An astounding seven of the album's ten tracks (nine in the U.S.) were released as singles!
Tina was suddenly thrust into the spotlight once again, and she relished the opportunity to prove herself as a solo artist.
Private Dancer is full of muscle and is definitely the best of her three 80s albums, and received widespread critical acclaim. Unlike many black artists, she was definitely appealing to mainstream white rock fans here (but with a soulful heart), rather than opting for Motown, post disco or hip hop. Her raspy, passionate vocals are the big selling point, as is the musicianship delivered by a very talented team of producers and players.
Tina Turner on the front sleeve of the vinyl single

"LET'S STAY TOGETHER" (The 1983 Comeback Single)

After a huge hit drought during the 70s, Tina Turner's comeback single "Let's Stay Together" provided the singer with her first major hit in ten years - "Nutbush City Limits" (with Ike) had reached No.4 in 1973. It was the lead single from the hugely successful Private Dancer album, which was later released in the spring of 1984.

This cover of the Al Green song (which originally featured on the album of the same name in 1972, with the single reaching No.7 in the UK) was Tina's first release of the eighties.

"Let's Stay Together" reached No.6 in the UK and No.26 in the U.S. and was a top 10 hit in Netherlands and Belgium. The single also reached No.3 on the Hot R&B charts and No.1 on the U.S. Dance Chart. 

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

The third Mad Max entry (a post-apocalyptic action movie) starred Tina Turner as Aunty Entity and Mel Gibson as "Mad" Max Rockatansky.
The first part of the soundtrack album featured the Two singles "We Don't Need Another Here (Thunderdome)" (a UK No.3 hit) and "One Of The Living", which reached No.15 in the UK singles chart. An instrumental version of "We Don't Need Another Hero" was also included.
The second half of the album featured an original three part orchestral score composed by Maurice Jarre (the Father of Jean-Michel Jarre) and was performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. 
Mel Gibson and Tina Turner on the front LP sleeve for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Soundtrack LP

Break Every Rule (1986 Album)

Following the success of Private Dancer, which set very high standards, Tina was hoping to continue with her musical success, releasing her sixth studio album Break Every Rule in September 1986. Although it didn't quite reach the dizzy heights of the previous album, it was still a huge success, with sales of around 12 million worldwide, achieving 2 x Platinum in numerous countries, including Canada, Australia and Germany - the album topped both the Swiss and German charts.
It could be argued that Tina played it safe with this album (not breaking any rules at all!), more or less duplicating the mainstream glossy rock and pop formula that made "Private Dancer" such a success. It also saw the return of Terry Britten and Graham Lyle’s song writing partnership, although only for the first half of the album. Nonetheless, despite the lack of innovation, it's more than a satisfying listen, and Tina belts out the tunes effortlessly and with style, and her songs have a deep quality that others can only dream of matching.
Many well-know musical guests featured on the album (It's a star-studded line-up) with David Bowie, Bryan Adams and Mark Knopfler helping to pen a track each. Phil Collins played drums on "What You See Is What You Get", guitars were played by Eric Clapton on "Two People" and Steve Winwood played keyboards on "Afterglow".
Despite the album's success, the six singles from the album actually performed quite poorly in the UK charts, with only two breaking into the Top 40 - lead single "Typical Male" reached No.33 and "What You Get is What You See" reaching No.30. However, "Typical Male" did reach No.2 in the U.S.
Break Every Rule Vinyl LP front and rear sleeve - Tina Turner

Tina Turner Live In Europe (1988 Album)

Tina's first live album entitled "Tina Live in Europe" was released in March 1988 and went Gold in the UK, reaching No.8 here. However, the album was not a huge commercial success outside of Europe, reaching only No.86 in the U.S., but performed well in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands and Austria, reaching the top 5 here.

A number of singles were released from the album, which included "Nutbush City Limits (Live)", "Addicted To Love (live)" and "Tonight (Live)" with David Bowie, the latter reaching No.1 in The Netherlands, on the Dutch mega Charts. However, none of the tracks broke into the UK or U.S. Top 40.
"Tonight" was first recorded in 1984 and featured on the David Bowie album of the same name. Written by Bowie and Iggy Pop, the original track was included on Iggy Pop's Lust For Life album which was released in 1977.

Foreign Affair (1989 Album)

Released three years after Break Every Rule (in September 1989), Foreign Affair became Tina Turner's most successful album in the UK, providing the singer with her first chart topper and achieving 5 x Platinum sales - it sold around 9 million units worldwide. However, in the U.S., the album was not as successful, peaking at No.34 in the Billboard albums chart and achieving only a Gold sales certificate.
Lead single "The Best" became an instant classic, sing-a-long anthem, reaching No.5 in the UK with Platinum sales, and it was a fine showcase of Tina's fabulous voice. The song was actually a cover of a minor 1988 hit by Bonnie Tyler.
This was Tina's third and final studio album to be released on the Capitol record label. As with the previous two albums, a big production team was assembled for the album, including Dan Hartman (you may remember his hits "Instant Replay" and "Relight My Fire"), Roger Davies, Rupert Hine, Graham Lyle, Tony Joe White and Tina herself. Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler played guitar on the title track, and a huge array of musicians played on the album.
Foreign Affair LP Vinyl Sleeve Front
The second single to be lifted from the Foreign Affair album was "I Don't Wanna Lose You", reaching No.8 in the UK. Surprisingly, this very memorable song was only a minor hit across Europe, and in the majority of countries failed to break into the Top 20. The B-side featured a new track entitled "Stronger Than The Wind".
"Steamy Windows" was released as the third single, reaching No.13 in the UK. This spicy track is the perfect combination of blues, funk and rock, and was well-suited to Tina's growling voice. it's definitely a highlight from the album. 
Further singles released from the album in 1990 were the saxy "Look Me In The Heart, "Foreign Affair" (an upbeat electro rock track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Dire Straits album) and the rock ballad "Be Tender With Me Baby".
Studio Album Discography

1974  Tina Turn The Country On  -
1975  Acid Queen  #115 (US)
1978  Rough  -
1979  Love Explosion  -
1984  Private Dancer  #3 (US) #2 (UK)
1986  Break Every Rule  #4 (US) #2 (UK)
1989  Foreign Affair  #31 (US) #1 (UK)
1996  Wildest Dreams  #61 (US)  #4 (UK)
1999  Twenty Four Seven  #21 (US) #9 (UK)

Soundtrack Albums

1985  Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome  #41 (US)
1993  What's Love Got To Do With It  #17 (US) #1 (UK)

Live Albums

1988  Tina Live In Europe  #86 (US)  #8 (UK)
1999  Divas Live '99  #90 (US)
2009  Tina Live  #169 (US) #43 (UK)

Tina Turner on the cover of Record Mirror March 9 1985

Tina Turner on the front cover of Record Mirror (March 9th 1985)

Tina sadly passed away at the aged of 83 on May 24th 2023. R.I.P.