Liam Rudden: How Anna Mae became pop icon Tina Turner

Liam Rudden
Liam Rudden
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KNEES pointing north and south, Anna Mae Bullock was huge in the 1980s, rediscovered by a new generation thanks to chart toppers such as The Best, Private Dancer and We Don’t Need Another Hero, from the cult movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, in which she played the iconic Aunty Entity.

Yes, Tina Turner, whose pop career had already spanned more than two decades, was enjoining a renaissance.

Back in the 1960s, it was a very different story. Then she was one half of Ike and Tina Turner, and it’s to this period of her life that the musical Soul Sister transports audience, as I discovered when I popped down for a sneak preview at York’s Grand Opera House last week - the show tours to the Festival Theatre here in Edinburgh, 3-8 December.

With York half flooded it was the most bizarre theatre trip I’ve done for some while. My hotel was on the banks of the River Ouse... or to be precise IN the River Ouse. The car park was under five feet of water, as the theatre had been the night before, forcing the cancellation of that evening’s performance.

Luckily, it had dried out enough for the company to return to the stage and so the story of ‘Little Anna’s’ early years in the world of rock ‘n’ roll could be told.

Married to Ike, an abuser and drug addict, the piece pulls no punches, Turner attempting to take her own life in an attempt to escape the sham of her marriage before finally plucking up the courage to leave and embark on a solo career.

It’s a moving story and an emotional insight into the fragile nature of one of pop’s greatest heroines.

And, of course, many of her more recent hits get an airing too, at the end, when the play transforms into an impromptu concert. Fans will love it.