She retired from performing 14 years ago, but that couldn’t keep her name out of the spotlight. Whether through music, memoir, film or Broadway musical, Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, is not easily forgotten.
That sentiment is especially widespread following Turner’s death at the age of 83 on Wednesday. As tributes to the rocker continue to roll in, here’s a look back at Turner’s performing history in Utah — and a look at a musical about Turner’s career making its Utah debut next week.
Revisiting Tina Turner’s concerts in Utah
Although she went on several worldwide tours throughout her decadeslong career, Turner appears to have only performed in Utah a few times.
One of her earliest appearances reportedly came in 1970 at the Salt Palace — a lineup that featured Ike & Tina Turner with Creedence Clearwater Revival. Years later, after she left her abusive husband, fought her way back into the spotlight and found massive success as a solo artist, Turner would return to the Salt Lake venue.
That concert came in the winter of 1987 — two years after the release of “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” the third installment in the “Mad Max” franchise starring Turner and Mel Gibson.
A decade later, in the spring of 1997, Turner brought hits like “River Deep, Mountain High” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It” to the Delta Center (which is now Vivint Arena but will soon return to being the Delta Center). Turner had a fellow legendary act as her opener: Cyndi Lauper.
And as Lauper told the Deseret News then, opening for Turner was exactly what she wanted.
“I’m a huge fan of Tina’s, and I get to do a shorter show,” she said. “That especially fares well when you take my condition into consideration.”
Lauper was four months pregnant at the time.
“The kid is getting to hear the music,” Lauper said of going on tour during her pregnancy. “It’s getting to hear Tina sing. I think the kid is going to have a wonderful background.”
Turner returned to the Delta Center three years later, this time with Lionel Richie as a special guest. She kicked off the high-energy show with Sly & the Family Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher,” and went on to perform R&B hits like “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “Hold On, I’m Comin,’” and “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay,” as well as two Beatles covers — “Get Back” and “Help!”
“Turner’s moves and dancing displayed command and power,” Scott Iwasaki wrote for the Deseret News at the time, noting that fans couldn’t help but sing along. “Her vibrant sensuality was projected through her energetic choreography. It’s hard to believe the woman just turned 62.”
The 2000 show at the Delta Center marked Turner’s second and final performance at the venue, the Deseret News confirmed with Vivint Arena. It was part of Turner’s Twenty Four Seven tour, in support of her final album of the same name from 1999. That tour reportedly made Turner “the highest grossing live entertainer of 2000,” according to Rolling Stone.
The tour generated more than $80 million in North America, and at the time put Turner “in the fifth spot for all-time tours of North America,” beating out bands like N’Sync, the Dave Matthews Band and Kiss, per Rolling Stone.
That 2000 show also appears to have been Turner’s last concert in Salt Lake City. The Twenty Four Seven tour was billed as a farewell tour — “I’ve done enough. I’ve been performing for 44 years. I really should hang up my dancing shoes,” Turner said at the time, according to Rolling Stone. But the eight-time Grammy winning artist would officially retire from performing in 2009 at the age of 70, concluding her life in the music industry with a 50th-anniversary celebration tour (which did not make a stop in Utah).
The set lists for Turner’s Utah shows indicate significant variation — for instance, Turner only performed “GoldenEye,” which she sang for the 1995 James Bond film soundtrack, in her 1997 show. But she gave her Utah fans some of her biggest hits every single time, including: “Private Dancer,” Let’s Stay Together,” “Proud Mary” and “Nutbush City Limits,” which commemorates her rural Tennessee hometown.
A Tina Turner musical comes to Utah
Retiring from performing didn’t diminish Turner’s stardom. In 2019 — 10 years after exiting the music industry — “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” made its Broadway debut. And in 2021, Turner got inducted as a solo artist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (she had previously been inducted with Ike Turner in 1991).
Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall, the “Tina” musical explores how Turner broke barriers and became the Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll, the Deseret News reported. The musical garnered 12 Tony nominations and won one for Adrienne Warren’s portrayal of the rock ‘n’ roll star.
“Tina” closed on Broadway last year, but a national tour is currently underway. The official website for the musical notes Turner’s death and states that performances will “continue as planned.”
That includes a brief run at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City from May 30 through June 4. Though the announcement came more than a year ago, the musical’s arrival will now undoubtedly come with a greater sense of poignancy as it pays tribute to and honors Turner’s life and career.
Following the news of Turner’s death, the Twitter account for the Broadway production shared a statement from Turner’s official account.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner,” the statement reads. “With her music and boundless passion for life, she enchanted fans worldwide and inspired future stars. We say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us her greatest work; her music. Tina, we will miss you dearly.”