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Record crowd for Ike and Tina in 1976 in Launceston

When the Ike and Tina Turner Show came to Launceston on Australia Day 1976 it attracted what The Examiner said was the biggest ever crowd for a pop concert in Tasmania.

Sydney promoter John Harrigan told the newspaper that 4500 people had filled York Park (now UTAS Stadium) to see the famed American husband and wife team perform with their band and dancers.

“Ike and Tina Turner walloped them all with a sledgehammer of rock music for 90 minutes,” The Examiner said. “The visual effects were superb.”

“Tina was the Acid Queen, prowling in a flimsy outfit of flesh toned sequins . . . it didn’t hang from the shoulders, it dripped with seduction.”

Local band Bitter Sweet opened the show before the Ike and Tina troupe took the stage. Ike Turner, the newspaper said, was a perfectionist who has shaped every note and step “in the hottest show ever seen here.”

The huge audience was surprisingly conservative, according to the newspaper, apart from two girls who arrived topless and one solitary figure dancing among the crowd that spilled onto the oval.

Ike Turner, 45, was a big star and the 1976 Australia tour started with a show at Sydney’s Hordern Pavillion on January 18 followed by dates at Adelaide, Melbourne (twice) and back to Sydney.

Launceston was the only non-capital city they visited and they nearly missed their flight from Melbourne which put Ike in a bad mood when they arrived at Launceston Airport.

He led his entourage right past the VIP room where promoters had organised a press conference and refused to be interviewed. Then he wasn’t impressed with the transport arranged for the band.

“Outside Launceston Airport he tried one of the advanced-booked taxis for size – and got straight out, The Examiner reported.

When he got into the next cab on the rank, a six-year-old white Ford Fairlane, he wanted to know where his limousine was and didn’t speak during 13km trip to the band’s Launceston motel.

Tina Turner, real name Anna Mae Bullock, was 37 and started divorce proceedings against Ike later in 1976.

When she made her second visit to Launceston 20 years later, she was the big star and had forged a special relationship with Australia.

The Examiner was a sponsor of Tina Turner’s concert at the Silverdrome on March 3, 1997, which was part of her 16-month Wildest Dreams world tour seen by a reported 650,000 fans and grossed $100 million.

Tickets were $65 for the Launceston concert but it was a sell-out audience of 5000 who watched the 57-year-old singer rock her way through a wild and raunchy performance. Tina Turner delivered her famous songs with trademark energy and feeling, The Examiner said.

For those who loved Tina Turner’s music her death on May 24 this year, at the age of 83, was a very sad occasion.


IMAGES -- Top: Ike and Tina Turner on stage at York Park on Australia Day 1976 with some of the audience of 4500 behind them. Examiner photo. Middle: Tina Turner arrives at Launceston Airport. Bottom: The front page of The Examiner on Tuesday 27 January 1976.

Written for the Launceston Historical Society and published in The Sunday Examiner, 18 June 2023.

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