Tina Turner Didn’t Know Who Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones Were

Tina Turner has been entertaining audiences for decades and has rightfully earned her title as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. She rose to fame as rock music became increasingly popular in the 1960s and eventually became a global superstar as a solo artist in the 1980s.

Singer Tina Turner smiling for portrait wearing a black top and pearl necklace
Tina Turner | Denize Alain/Sygma via Getty Images

Tina Turner is the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Tina Turner first became famous alongside her ex-husband, rock musician Ike Turner. With powerhouse vocals, she was the lead singer in his band and eventually his love interest. They got married in 1962, but their 16-year relationship was fraught with physical, verbal, and sexual abuse at the hands of Ike.

After filing for divorce in 1976, Tina spent the late 1970s and early ’80s attempting to stage a career comeback that the music industry had never seen before. And she rose like a phoenix from the ashes: her 1984 album Private Dancer was a worldwide success, selling millions of copies and launching her into a hot streak that would last more than a decade.

Tina Turner in a denim jacket smiles while she performs during her 1985 'Private Dancer Tour' on August 28, 1985 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan
Tina Turner performs during her 1985 ‘Private Dancer Tour’ on August 28, 1985 | Ross Marino/Getty Images

Tina Turner toured with the Rolling Stones back in the day

Long before “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” however, Turner’s biggest hit was Ike and Tina’s 1966 song “River Deep – Mountain High.” The song took the duo to new heights: that same year, they joined the Rolling Stones on their UK tour as their opening act. 

The Rolling Stones had a deep respect for Ike and Tina Turner’s craft and valued their musical contributions to their tour and to the world. The iconic rock band loved performing with them so much that they invited them to be their opening act on their US tour in 1969, which was hailed by rock critics as “history’s first mythic rock and roll tour” that became “part of rock and roll legend.”

Tina Turner and Mick Jagger
(L-R) Tina Turner and Mick Jagger rehearse their duet for the Live Aid concert at JFK Stadium on July 12, 1985 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images

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Tina Turner didn’t know who the Rolling Stones were

Tina Turner famously spoke with People magazine in 1981 about the abuse she suffered while she was with Ike, as well as parts of their career together — including working with the Stones. She even admitted that she had no idea who they were when she first met them.

“I didn’t know who the Stones were,” she admitted. “They were just these white boys and Mick [Jagger] was the one who was always standing in the wings watching us. He was a little shy of me, but finally we started having fun and I tried to teach him some dances, because he’d just stand still onstage with the tambourine.”

Turner reflected on the first time she met him in a 1997 interview with Larry King. She acknowledged that her experiences were “fun” and “fantastic,” and the perfect introduction to the world of rock ‘n’ roll.

“My first experience was when Mick Jagger walked in the dressing room without knocking, and he says, ‘I love how you girls dance,'” Turner recalled in a gruff English accent. “And I didn’t know who he was! … Often he would come into the dressing room but we were always prepared because we never knew when he was coming in, but that’s how Mick is.”