The Story Behind The Iconic Tina Tuner Solo Of 1985 Grammys
via TinaTurner Timeline / Youtube
Ken Ehrlich, a former Grammy executive producer, fondly recalled a pivotal moment in Tina Turner’s career when she doubted her ability to deliver a remarkable stage performance. Ehrlich orchestrated Turner’s iconic solo rendition of “What’s Love Got to Do With It” at the 1985 Grammy Awards, considering it one of her most extraordinary moments. Reflecting on Turner, who recently passed away on May 24, Ehrlich shared his perspective.
“You almost can’t think of that song without thinking of that moment of her alone on that stage, dominating,” Ehrlich expressed to Variety. He had envisioned a captivating entrance for Turner, revealing her in full profile as she descended the steps to perform the song. Ehrlich desired a minimalist setup without an orchestra, band, or any other distractions to showcase Turner’s presence. He believed that an introduction from a host or presenter was unnecessary, as Turner’s sheer talent spoke for itself.
However, when Ehrlich proposed the idea, Turner expressed concern about navigating the stairs in her heels. “At first, she had said she didn’t think she could do it, which is rare because she could do anything,” Ehrlich shared. Surprised by her hesitation, Ehrlich couldn’t fathom that Turner hadn’t previously walked downstairs like that, knowing how stunning her legs were. Determined to convince her, he suggested building a custom stair unit for her to try. “I said, ‘Let me build a stair unit, and if she doesn’t want it, I won’t use it.’ Because I knew she was gonna love it,” Ehrlich explained. And love it, she did. Turner not only embraced the idea but also purchased the stairs to incorporate them into her subsequent tour. Ehrlich remarked, “They took the idea, and that became a big part of the tour.”
Although Ehrlich acknowledged that the performance didn’t define Turner’s career since “What’s Love Got to Do With It” had already been a massive hit, he emphasized the impact of her grand entrance. “When you saw her come over and down those steps, even though she was not a tall woman, she was larger than life,” Ehrlich recalled. He viewed the decision to have Turner perform alone on stage as a bold move, asserting, “If Tina Turner couldn’t hold her own onstage, who could? I think of that from time to time when artists of much lesser charisma insist that they be surrounded by all kinds of production, only proving their insecurities.”