Tina Turner remembers her last ever show at Sheffield Arena - as new documentary lifts lid on superstar's life

A new documentary about global music superstar Tina Turner has brought back great memories for fans of her very last-ever live show – which took place in Sheffield.

By Julia Armstrong
Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 9:20 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 9:23 am

And that all came about because she got the flu.

Tina, aged 81, whose amazing career spanned half a century and a move from R&B to rock and roll, is the subject of new HBO documentary TINA, which premiered here on Sunday (March 28) on TV channel Sky Documentaries and the NOW streaming service.

It charts how Tina broke free from abusive husband and early co-star Ike Turner and fought to relaunch her career.

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Tina Turner performing at Don Valley Stadium

The final stage performance of that career took place in her 70th year in front of a packed Sheffield Arena on May 5, 2009.

She had been meant to appear in Sheffield two months earlier on the 90-date tour, which took in 12 countries.

However, Tina caught a bad case of the flu and was told by doctors to rest for six days, meaning that her concerts in Sheffield and at the O2 Arena in London had to be postponed.

An aerial view of a Tina Turner concert at Sheffield Don Valley Stadium

Therefore, the rescheduled Sheffield show became the last on the tour. In her 2018 autobiography My Love Story, Tina recalled: “After working hard for so many years, I was ready to stop.

"This was the moment to do it because I wanted to finish with my fans remembering me at my best. I didn’t want them to come to a show in a year, or two years, and think Oh, she used to be good.

"There is a wise expression, Leave the party before it’s over.”

She told Graham Norton on his BBC Radio 2 show: “We had the greatest show, it was really wonderful. But the next day me, my husband Erwin and my cook got on the plane and I took a deep breath and said, This is it, I’m not going back for anything.”

Clare Turton, from Eckington, backstage in Sheffield on the Tina Turner worldwide tour

Her other appearances in Sheffield include four shows at Don Valley Stadium in July and November 1996 on the Wildest Dreams tour, as well as the same venue on July 13, 2000. She performed at Sheffield City Hall in February 1984 and as Ike & Tina Turner at the King Mojo Club back in October 1966.

Fans in the audience at the King Mojo said that the band had to fight through the crowd to get on stage – and had to beg to go off after an intense performance where sweat was running off the walls.

Two Sheffielders have also collaborated closely with the star. Human League and Heaven 17 star Martyn Ware has worked as a producer for her on several albums, including her 1984 comeback Private Dancer.

"Simply the Best" - Tina Turner fans pictured during a concert at the Don Valley Stadium

Speaking of dancers, Clare Turton from Eckington was Tina’s dance captain on that final tour, leading the stage ensemble.

She was reduced to joyful tears at the end of the final Sheffield Arena show when Tina told the 12,000-strong crowd: “This is a very special night for Clare, she was born in this city and all her family are here.”

Simply The Best indeed.

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Tina Turner live at Don Valley Stadium on July 18, 1996
Fans watching Tina Turner at Don Valley on July 18, 1996