Tina Turner's Ipswich concert remembered ahead of new documentary

Tina Turner performing at Portman Road in 1990

Tina Turner performing at Portman Road in 1990 - Credit: Jerry Turner/Archant

As Tina Turner takes the spotlight in a major new TV documentary, promoter Barry Dye has been remembering how he worked to bring the musical icon to Ipswich.

Tina's night at Portman Road in 1990 was the first rock concert at the stadium, and for Barry it was Simply the Best.

Tina Turner on stage with John Miles, one of her guitarists, at Portman Road, Ipswich in 1990

Tina Turner on stage with John Miles, one of her guitarists, at Portman Road, Ipswich in 1990 - Credit: Kevin Allum/supplied by Barry Dye

He said: "She was fantastic - the concert was brilliant. It was extra special because it was the first concert at Portman Road."

Now aged 81, Tina has withdrawn from live performing, but will be profiled in the new documentary due to be screened by Sky later this month.

The crowd watching Tina Turner in July 1990

The crowd watching Tina Turner in July 1990 - Credit: Archant

Entitled simply Tina, the film will trace her personal struggles, featuring previously unseen footage, including in-depth interviews with the star herself.


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For thousands who were at Ipswich Town's ground on July 26, 1990, it will bring back memories of Tina's powerhouse performance, during her Foreign Affair World Tour.

Barry Dye

Promoter Barry Dye vividly remembers working to arrange the Tina Turner concert in 1990 - Credit: Lynne Mortimer/Archant

The singer had previously performed another memorable Ipswich concert at the Regent, then called the Gaumont, in 1984. But her second visit to the town was on a much bigger scale.

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DJ and promoter Simon Ray had the idea of using Ipswich Town's ground for a concert. His Goldray Promotions had a contract with ITFC to arrange a concert, but after two years was still trying to book an artist.

Tina Turner performing at Portman Road in 1990

Tina Turner performing at Portman Road in 1990 - Credit: Jerry Turner/Archant

Barry then came on board to use his connections and make it happen. Initially, they were negotiating with Status Quo, but then came the possibility of booking Tina.

Her concert ended up being the first one - with Quo and Rod Stewart both appearing at the ground the following year.  

The crowd watching Tina Turner performing at Portman Road in 1990

The crowd watching Tina Turner performing at Portman Road in 1990 - Credit: Jerry Turner/Archant

He said: "Being the first major concert ever to happen in Ipswich , and of course at the football club, we were the forerunners and had to solve all the hundreds of problems which is inevitable when you put on something as big as this for the first time.  

"Once we had solved these problems, then it was easier in the following years."

Tina Turner performing at Portman Road in 1990

Tina Turner performing at Portman Road in 1990 - Credit: Jerry Turner/Archant

Tina was rehearsing her show in Antwerp, and organisers travelled there to see how it was staged to help them with arrangements for the concert - the biggest which had ever been staged in Ipswich.

Barry is writing a book about the Tina Turner concert, but first aims to publish his autobiography next year, to mark 50 years in the entertainment business.

The crowd watching Tina Turner's concert at Ipswich Town's ground in 1990

The crowd watching Tina Turner's concert at Ipswich Town's ground in 1990 - Credit: Archant

Looking back, he said there were many hurdles to overcome in organising the event. Early on, it was almost jeopardised by parking arrangements, because office workers would be using the car park opposite the stadium until 5pm on a week day.

Fortunately, David Smith, head of Ipswich Borough Council's building control, stepped in and said it would be possible to make alternative arrangements for the office workers. 

"The Tina concert really took over my life for six months," Barry said.

How Portman Road looked from the air before Tina Turner's concert

How Portman Road looked from the air before Tina Turner's concert, with the the huge stage in front of Churchmans Stand, as it was then, plus the sound and lighting desks in the middle of the pitch, and the pitch cover being laid. - Credit: Kevin Allum/Supplied by Barry Dye

"But we only met her for a few minutes and there was no chance to chat - it was manic on the night! She was very nice."

He said Tina was only actually in Ipswich for about 45 minutes before the concert and an hour afterwards.

"Apart from the sheer hard work, one memory which sticks in my mind was the start of the concert," he said.

"I went into the directors' box at Portman Road. There were stairs to the stage and I watched Tina coming down at the start of Steamy Windows.

"Then John Cole, chief of the fire service, came up beside me, and we watched together. He put his arm around my shoulders and said, 'Barry, we did it, mate'.'"

  • The new documentary Tina will be shown on Sky Documentaries and available on Now TV from March 28.
Tina Turner at Portman Road in 1990

Tina Turner at Portman Road in 1990 - Credit: Archant

Tina Turner's earlier concert at the Gaumont in February 1984

Tina Turner's earlier concert at the Gaumont in February 1984 - Credit: Archant


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