Single Stories: Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Single Stories: Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”

You know the song – it is, after all, the title of the bio-pic that was made about her life – but do you know the origins of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It”? If not, we can fix that.

Written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, “What’s Love Got To Do With It” may be best known today as the song that helped revive Tina Turner’s career and transform her into a solo superstar, but all things being equal, it’s rather miraculous that it ever got to her at all. The song was actually offered to both Cliff Richard and Donna Summer before making its way to Turner, but both singers turned it down, thereby leaving it available.

What’s funny, though, is that Turner didn’t want to record it, either. She hated it, in fact, and if it hadn’t been for her manager, Roger Davies, pressing the issue, she might never have done so. Fortunately, Davies – who was doing double duty as the engineer on Turner’s PRIVATE DANCER album – was convinced that it was going to be a hit single if she’d only give it a go.

Thankfully, it was a decision which panned out well for Turner: not only did it turn out to be her first top-10 single since the early ‘70s, but it was – and still remains – her only time at the top of the Hot 100.

Really, though, if you’re going to have just the one #1 hit, you couldn’t do much better: it was awarded Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year at the 1985 Grammys, and in 2012 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Most importantly, though, Tina Turner came back so successfully as a result of its release that, to this day, it still remains her signature song.

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