(Disclaimer: Any opinion contained in this column belongs to its author.)
It’s always have been impossible for me to answer the question, “What’s the best concert you have ever seen?”
How do you compare seeing Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Sonny & Cher, James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Joan Baez, Tom Jones, Jessye Norman, Sharon Jones, Diana Ross and hundreds of other super stars?
The truth is that some of the performances I’ve seen in small nightclubs have been just as great and memorable as some of the elaborate concerts I’ve seen in stadiums and arenas.
But, without a doubt, in my Top Five would have to be when Tina Turner performed 35 years ago in the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center on Thursday night, Nov. 19, 1987, on her Break Every Rule tour.
It apparently was the only time she strutted her stuff in Augusta unless she came to some local nightclub with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the 1960s. There doesn’t, however, seem to be any mention of such a stop in The Augusta Chronicle’s electronic archives.
Not a lot remains in my 77-year-old mind from that show in 1987, but I do remember Turner at one dramatic staging of a number (possibly We Don’t Need Another Hero from the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) was standing on this small platform being raised high above the stage while clouds of smoke billowed below her.
My life partner, Eddie Smith, and I were sitting on the center side end of the eighth row with Rebecca Rogers, wife of Civic Center Manager Larry Rogers.
And by the time Turner’s concert ended, all three of us literally were standing on our chairs screaming at the top of our lungs along with the thousands of others who packed the civic center that night. I can’t recall doing that at even The Beatles’ 1965 Atlanta show.
Turner’s Break Every Rule tour lasted from March 4, 1987, in Munich, Germany, until March 27, 1988, in Osaka, Japan, covering 209 shows with 91 in Europe, 78 in North America, 6 in South America, 22 in Australia and 12 in Asia.
Her show on Jan. 16, 1988, in Rio de Janeiro broke the world record for the largest paying audience at a solo concert with a crowd of more than 182,000 fans.
For some unexplained reason, the night she performed in Augusta on Nov. 19, 1987, is listed on many online sites as stating she performed at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tenn.
The frequently erroneous web site Wikipedia lists her being in the “Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center” on Sept. 19, 1987, and other sites accurately list her being in Augusta on that night. Only she was in Augusta, Maine, and not Augusta, Ga.
Her stop in our Augusta wasn’t a late “catch-up” or substitute date, because The Chronicle began telling fans about her November show at least by mid-October. I know that for sure because I was The Chronicle’s entertainment editor writing those pre-show news items.
Turner was just seven days shy of her 48th birthday when she came to Augusta between her Nov. 18 show at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville, Ala., and her Nov. 20 show at the Jefferson County Coliseum in Birmingham, Ala.
She wasn’t doing many pre-concert interviews on that tour which is probably why The Chronicle the next day only covered her show with just a photo by staff photographer David H. Nash and cutlines that read:
“Tina Turner, the 60s singing sensation who has become an 80s rock superstar, performed her high voltage show Thursday night at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. The singer used to be partners with her husband, Ike, but she is now best known for her hit songs such as What’s Love Got To Do With It? and You Better Be Good To Me. She has had a multi-selling album, Private Dancer. The opening act at the concert was rock band Level 42.”
The city of Augusta not only has been left out of the online listings of her 1987 tour stops, but it also was left out on that Break Every Rule tour T-shirt. But so was Augusta, Maine.
One of the songs that Turner did on that tour was What’s Love Got To Do With It which also became the title of the 1993 biography film that co-starred Angela Bassett as Turner and Augusta-born actor Laurence Fishburne III as her husband.
If you were there the night Turner rocked the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center (now James Brown Arena), please post your memories at the end of this article.
Turner, who died May 24 at 83 in her Switzerland home, opened most of that 1987 tour with her hit What You Get Is What You See.
Thousands of local fans surely got to see a lot of her that wonderful November night.
Don Rhodes has been a by-line journalist since 1963 writing for his Chamblee, Ga., High School newspaper and two weeklies in Decatur. He has worked for Morris Communications Co. since joining the Savannah Evening Press in March of 1967. He also has authored four national books, four regional books, national magazine articles and album notes for several music artists. Sign up for the Augusta Good News newsletter here.