It’s 10:15 PM on Saturday, March 27th. I’ve just finished watching Tina, the HBO documentary about the incomparable Tina Turner. The two-hour doc was filled with stunning footage and stories from Turner’s remarkable career, but it was the film’s ending that is really staying with me.
Tina comes to a close with Turner and her husband, Erwin Bach, traveling from their home in Switzerland to New York City in November 2019 for the Broadway opening of TINA: The Tina Turner Musical. Over footage from the star-studded event, Bach says the following:
“She said, ‘I’m going to America, and I’m going to say goodbye to my American fans and wrap it up.’ And I think this documentary and the play, this is it. It’s a closure. A closure.”
Tina Turner doesn’t have to perform a single note ever again. She doesn’t owe any of us a thing more. But she’s still owed one more thing in order for this “closure” to be complete with me and likely countless other fans the world over: She needs to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in the 2021 class.
While she was inducted into the Rock Hall in 1991 as part of Ike & Tina Turner, Tina – the solo artist – has been eligible for induction since 1999. It would have been a nice touch to see her inducted in her first year of eligibility: her final studio album, Twenty Four Seven, was released that year. (Although many regard 1984’s Private Dancer as her debut solo album, she has been putting out solo albums since 1974’s Tina Turns the Country On!) It also goes without saying that she was more successful and impactful as a solo artist than she was with Ike Turner.
Plenty has been written by myself and countless others about the Rock Hall’s lack of women inductees; women account for less than eight percent of artist inductees. The fact that it took until 2019, when Stevie Nicks became the first double-inductee, is ridiculous. Over twenty men have been inducted twice; Eric Clapton has been inducted three times. While Nicks’ solo honor was more than deserved, she shouldn’t have been the Rock Hall’s first woman double-inductee.
It should have been Tina. And Tina, the documentary, makes the case that Turner’s solo career is more than worthy of induction. From the cotton fields of Tennessee to selling out the biggest stadiums in the world, she’s done it all while simultaneously overcoming at times horrific odds. She paved the way for Beyoncé, Taylor and any other musician recognized by just one name to become superstars. They all owe a debt to Tina, someone who achieved that worldwide stardom in her mid-40s, which is a staggering feat that also doesn’t get enough attention. Becoming a headliner as an up-and-coming artist is one thing, but to do so while battling ageism AND crossing over multiple musical genres is another.
The figures and the powers-that-be at the Rock Hall – both past and present – can’t go back in time and induct Tina as a solo artist two decades ago, but they can right one major wrong by inducting her this year, which is also somehow the first time she has been nominated as a solo artist.
Rock Hall voters have about a month left to submit their ballots for the 2021 class. Every single voter would have to be a fool not to mark Tina as one of their five selections.
And if they are somehow still on the fence, just watch Tina.