Tina Turner and Jimmy Barnes at the 1993 Grand Final. Picture: Action Photographics
Tina Turner and Jimmy Barnes at the 1993 Grand Final. Picture: Action Photographics

NRL in talks with Tina Turner as ‘The Best’ turns 30

The song which is eternally linked with Australian rugby league turns 30 this week as Tina Turner's career enters another renaissance courtesy of the theatrical musical of her life.

The Best was released as a single in 1989, the year she was signed as the face of the Winfield Cup promotional campaign to rejuvenate the code's appeal to female fans.

That first ad was soundtracked by her 1987 hit What You Get Is What You See.

It was replaced by The Best - a massive chart and airwaves success - as the rugby league theme in 1990 until 1995, with Turner performing it at the 1993 Grand Final.

 

Tina Turner and Jimmy Barnes at the 1993 Grand Final. Picture: Action Photographics
Tina Turner and Jimmy Barnes at the 1993 Grand Final. Picture: Action Photographics

 

 

 

Tina Turner with Allan Langer, Andrew Ettingshausen and Wayne Pearce during filming of the Simply the Best advertising campaign for the 1990 Rugby League season on the Gold Coast. Picture: Peter Muhlbock.
Tina Turner with Allan Langer, Andrew Ettingshausen and Wayne Pearce during filming of the Simply the Best advertising campaign for the 1990 Rugby League season on the Gold Coast. Picture: Peter Muhlbock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NRL are keen to get Turner back on board in some promotional capacity to celebrate 30 years of The Best being linked to the game and are in negotiations with her Australian manager Roger Davies.

Co-written by Australian producer Mike Chapman and originally recorded by Bonnie Tyler, the song peaked at No. 4 on the ARIA charts.

It was given another lease of chart life as (Simply) The Best when re-recorded as a duet with Jimmy Barnes in 1992.

 

The victorious Brisbane Broncos with Tina Turner after their Grand Final win in 1993. Picture: Action Photographics
The victorious Brisbane Broncos with Tina Turner after their Grand Final win in 1993. Picture: Action Photographics

 

 

Barnesy teamed with Turner to remake (Simply) The Best. Picture: Supplied.
Barnesy teamed with Turner to remake (Simply) The Best. Picture: Supplied.

"In 1992, the NRL asked me if I would consider joining Tina in the TV ads. This meant I would have to travel to Holland to record and make a film clip with her," Barnes wrote in his Working Class Man memoir.

"They would pay me a fortune. I had to bite my lip from laughing. I would have paid them to get me sing with her.

"It was one of the great moments of my life to stand next to Tina as she sang in the studio."

While it ceased soundtracking the league's ads after 1995, it remains the most popular of the modern era's themes and continues to feature regularly in sports broadcasts.

 

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As Turner signed on to perform at the 1993 grand final between Brisbane and St George, her life was immortalised on the silver screen courtesy of the biopic What's Love Got To Do With It, starring Angela Bassett as the singer and Laurence Fishburne as her abusive musical and life partner Ike Turner.

Back then, at 54, she was at the height of her powers as the Queen of Rock'n'Roll, a fierce and uncompromising survivor and one of the most electric live performers of the modern pop era.

She signalled she would not continue touring into her senior years but finally retired after her 50th anniversary tour of America and Europe in 2009 ahead of her 70th birthday.

 

Turner has retired from touring which is a damn shame. Picture: Supplied.
Turner has retired from touring which is a damn shame. Picture: Supplied.

 

"When I'm older, I could still stand and sing What's Love Got To Do With It? but we're talkin' about the hot numbers, what I'm doing now with Nutbush or what I'm doing with Addicted to Love. I mean my persona, when I hit the stage with my rock'n'roll stuff," she told music writer Kathy McCabe in 1993.

"It does not go with a woman who's 65. You know, it doesn't go with turning on a crowd. You have to find another way to do it.''

 

Turner opened the German production of Tina The Musical in October last year. Picture: Franziska Krug/Getty Images.
Turner opened the German production of Tina The Musical in October last year. Picture: Franziska Krug/Getty Images.

And she has with Tina The Musical, which opened in London's West End last year and is in previews on Broadway now ahead of its official launch in November.

There are negotiations to bring Tina The Musical to Australia but it is unlikely it will launch here before 2021 as the major theatres are heavily booked for the next two years.

Turner's label Warner Music hope to win over yet another generation of fans in celebration of her 80th birthday later this year with a special vinyl release of her Simply The Best greatest hits compilation.

It remains one of the biggest selling best-ofs of the past three decades, reaching worldwide sales of more than seven million when first released in 1991.

The vinyl release is available for pre-order now and available from November 22.

 

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