Bryan Adams Talks His Epic Collaboration With Tina Turner and Photographing Her Years Later

Tina Turner and Brian Adams at the 1985 Juno Awards. Photo: Boris Spremo/Toronto Star/Getty Images

“She was spectacularly Tina.”

That’s how Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams sums up his first meeting with rock ‘n’ roll legend Tina Turner.

That meeting with Turner, to discuss their 1985 collaboration on the hit song “It’s Only Love,” culminated in a number of musical projects — but their collaboration didn’t end there.

Adams and Turner reconnected years later with the Canuck rocker turning his lens on the queen of rock ‘n’ roll — photos that ran in the Dec 2018/Jan 2019 issue of Zoomer.

Tina Turner
Photo: Bryan Adams


Upon news of Turner’s passing at the age of 83 on Wednesday, Adams tweeted a photo of them together, adding “My condolences to Erwin and Tina’s family. I’ll be forever grateful for the time we spent together on tour, in the studio and as friends. Thank you for being the inspiration to millions of people around the world for speaking your truth and giving us the gift of your voice. It’s Only Love and that’s all”


In the Dec 2018/Jan 2019 issue, Zoomer Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Boyd interviewed Adams about his decades-long friendship and collaboration with Turner.


SUZANNE BOYD: You wrote the 1984 hit “It’s Only Love,” recorded and famously performed with Tina Turner. How did that come about?

BRYAN ADAMS: Tina was making the album Private Dancer, and her producer Carter (RIP) called me up and asked me to write a song for her, but I was making the Reckless album at the time and didn’t have a spare song … or did I? I asked him if she’d sing on my album and hoped to hear back.

Toward the end of making my album, I heard that Tina was coming to Vancouver as the support act for Lionel Richie. As I hadn’t heard back, I sent a copy of the song to her manager, Roger Davies, who asked if I would meet Tina after her show — which I did, and it was spectacularly Tina. There were a lot of people backstage but I could see her hair coming down the hallway above everyone. It was unmistakable. She shuffled though the crowd, and I could hear her saying, “Where is he? Which one is he?”

SB: When did you become aware of her? Were you always a fan, and why?

BA: I became aware of her voice from hearing “River Deep, Mountain High.” There were a few female voices I loved growing up, but Janis Joplin and Tina were my main ones. Then there were Carole King and Joni Mitchell, who took me to another place. I loved Tina’s voice because, like Janis, she seemed completely unbridled.

SB: When and where did you do the shoot? And, what did you want to capture about Tina in the photos?

BA: This shoot was quite some time ago in Switzerland. Like all things
Tina, it’s best to go with the flow. I simply set up and let her do her thing … I think there was some music playing. In seeing some of her earlier photos, I wished I’d more time to get some of her really dancing.

SB: What is Tina like to work with, both musically and as a photographic subject?

BA: It was so much fun. A couple of favourite moments were in the studio producing her Grammy Award-winning performance of “Back Where You Started” and then producing her again on a song for the film What’s Love Got To Do With It. The song was called “Why Must We Wait Until Tonight,” which is another first-class vocal performance.

This article was originally published in the Dec 2018/Jan 2019 issue of  Zoomer with the headline “High Notes,” p. 8.


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