With media attention so focused these days on the lives of those we consider celebrities, it can be hard to believe there was a time when a trip behind the scenes into the life of a pop musician or film star was considered something out of the ordinary. Yet it wasn't too long ago that the idea of a camera crew following a celebrity around was considered a novelty. In those more innocent times it wasn't a matter of media trying to uncover scandals or revealing secrets. but more about humanizing larger-than-life figures.
At least that's the impression one gets watching the footage taken of Ike and Tina Turner by famous rock and roll photographer Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya. Using one of the first-ever portable video cameras, Gruen and his wife joined the Turners and their band on the road and at home for their 1971-72 tour. Now, 40 years later, the footage taken during this time has been cut, edited and digitally remastered as Ike & Tina Turner - On The Road: 1971-72, and released on DVD by MVD Entertainment Group.
Needless to say, video technology was in its infancy in those days. According to Gruen's notes, the camera was loaded with tapes similar to those used on old reel to reel audio equipment; the picture quality wasn't the greatest. In low light, the image would darken to the point where the screen would almost be black and in bright light it would blanch out. The audio was mono only and would tend to distort if the source was too loud, and pick up any and all ambient noise in the surrounding vicinity.
If this were filmed today, we would just throw it out as garbage. However, as a historical record of a bygone era and for the look it allows us into the lives of one of rock and roll's more controversial husband and wife teams, it's an invaluable document.
The sad demise of Ike and Tina Turner's marriage has been well documented. The abuse Tina received at Ike's hands and her escape from him finally by sneaking out of their hotel room with only change in her pocket is all that most think about when their life together is brought up.
In his liner notes for the DVD Gruen says the footage he shot shows why they were together for 20 years. While I'm not sure it accomplishes that goal, what this DVD does is remind us of just how incredible the band was at the height of the Turners performing prowess. While I'm sure there's still footage from their periodic television appearances, I can't see any network in the early 1970s airing some of the footage included on this DVD.