Cover Versions

Let’s Stay Together

Song: Let’s Stay Together
Artist: Tina Turner
Original artist: Al Green

In late 1983 Tina Turner’s career was in the doldrums. She had split from husband Ike claiming
she had been the subject of domestic violence. They had divorced in 1978, but the hits had
dried up several years earlier.
To all intents and purposes Tina Turner had become one of pop’s forgotten names.
Then along came a ‘gift from heaven’, a group of guys from Sheffield, England, who were having
hits of their own – Heaven 17 – and Turner’s career path altered dramatically.

The working relationship began in 1982 when Martyn Ware and Greg Walsh, both
of Heaven 17, produced a compilation album featuring various singers. Turner
sang “Ball of Confusion” on it.

Heaven 17 suggested to Tina that she record a cover version of the old Al Green hit, Let’s Stay
Together and the rest, to use the well-worn phrase, is history.

Some websites suggest that it might not have been out of order to promote the track as
Heaven 17 featuring Tina Turner. Fortunately, that temptation (note how I work in one of
Heaven 17’s hits there) was resisted.
The choice for the new single was brave given Green had enjoyed great success with it taking
the original to the top of the US charts in 1972. The approach to the song was even braver with
the Turner version completely switching the opening two verses of the Green original.
Tina’s version worked its way into the UK’s Top 10 with sales of more than a quarter of a million
copies. She was back in the big time and would attribute the revival of her career to the support
she received in the UK. The album which featured Let’s Stay Together – Private Dancer – would
also enjoy major success, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide and picking up three
Given the incredible successes Tina enjoyed afterwards I think music fans owe a big thank you
to the members of Heaven 17.

Original artist Al Green had several big soul hits including Tired of Being Alone. Accolades
include 11 Grammies, one being a Lifetime Achievement award. He ranked 65 in Rolling Stone
magazine’s 100 greatest artists of all time and is a Kennedy Center Honours recipient with
Usher singing Let’s Stay Together.
In 1974 Green’s girlfriend committed suicide in his Memphis home having previously doused
him with a boiling pot of grits. Green would say he took this as a wake-up call to change his life.

A couple of years later he established the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in his home city and
became its pastor. He is often referred to as the Reverend Al Green.

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