Bob Gruen’s behind-the-scenes look at his Ike & Tina Turner music doc “On the Road: 1971-72″

By on March 20, 2018

In the early 70’s, legendary rock photographer Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya toured with Ike & Tina Turner, filming them out on the road, performing onstage and also capturing candid images off-stage.

Now, for the first time ever, you can see this exclusive footage unveiled in Ike & Tina Turner – On The Road: 1971-72, now streaming on Night Flight Plus!

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Still taken from Ike & Tina – On The Road: 1971-72 by Nadya & Bob Gruen

Released on DVD in 2012, On The Road: 1971-72 features classic Ike & Tina Turner Revue concert performances of “River Deep, Mountain High,” “Proud Mary,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “I Want To Take You Higher” and many more.

Night Flight reached out to film director Bob Gruen about his Ike & Tina Turner documentary, and you can read his exclusive behind-the-scenes commentary below.

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Still taken from Ike & Tina – On The Road: 1971-72 by Nadya & Bob Gruen

Bob Gruen:

“I was 24 years old in the summer of 1970 when I met Ike and Tina Turner. They were the first famous band I worked with. A friend of mine told me I should go see them and I became an immediate fan. Soon after that first show I took my camera and went to see them again the Honka Monka Club, in Queens, NY.

I took some good pictures that night and at the end of the show Tina danced off stage as a strobe light flashed. I didn’t know where to set the focus or the exposure, but I thought that maybe if I tried a one second exposure I could catch several images of Tina in the flashes of light.

One of the pictures came out really well capturing five images of Tina in quick succession showing here amazing energy and the extreme excitement that is Tina Turner in motion!”

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As the Ike and Tina Turner band was finishing their show at the Honka Monka club in Queens, NY, Tina was dancing offstage as a strobe light flashed. I set my camera for a one second exposure and captured this multiple image of Tina Turner in action (photo & text by Bob Gruen)

“A few days later when I went to yet another Ike & Tina show I brought some of the pictures I’d taken to show my friends. After the show one of my friends saw Ike Turner walking by and pushed me in front of him, saying “Show Ike your pictures!” Ike was impressed with the pictures and took me into the dressing room to show Tina. They both liked my pictures a lot and asked me to come and work with them.

This changed my life and started my career in Rock photography. Ike introduced me to their record company’s publicist who took me to press events and receptions and introduced me to more people in the music business.”

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Ike & Tina Turner with dancers at the International Youth Expo in New York City, July, 5 1971 (photo & text by Bob Gruen)

“In the Spring of 1971 Ike brought me to California to spend a week taking pictures there and one of those pictures became the cover for their Nuff Said album, my first album cover photo.

I had recently bought a Sony PortaPac video tape recorder, the first portable video recorder available to the public. It was a reel to reel tape recorder, weighed about 20 pounds, didn’t work well in low light and only recorded mono sound, but a ½ hour reel of tape only cost $10 and the tape could be played back immediately on any TV, in a dressing room or hotel.

The first show I captured was when Ike and Tina opened for the Beach Boys in Central Park. Tina liked being able to show the tapes to the Ikettes right after the show to go over the routines while it was still fresh in their minds to help improve their act.”

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Ike & Tina Turner at the International Youth Expo in New York City, July, 5 1971 (photo & text by Bob Gruen)

“After seeing the tapes I made for them in New York, they invited us to go on the road with them. My wife Nadya sometimes did the filming as I took still photos. We filmed them on and off stage, recording in their studio in Los Angeles, and also at home with Tina and her kids.

We did most of our filming in 1971 and ‘72. After Ike watched the black & white footage in 1972, he asked me to rent 16mm color film equipment and we used that for the following two weeks on the road with them.”

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Ike & Tina Turner (photo by Bob Gruen)

“I never saw any of the violence that Tina later revealed when she spoke out about their relationship, but I do not doubt that it happened.

I think the film What’s Love Got To Do With It? shows what happened after Ike became heavily addicted to cocaine. It’s a good film that opened up a very important subject and shows why they broke up… but I think my videos show why they were together in the first place.

They were known as “The hardest working couple in show business” and I think Ike and Tina Turner on the Road – 1971-72 shows how amazing they were!”

Bob Gruen
New York, March 2018

Thanks, Bob!

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Still taken from Ike & Tina – On The Road: 1971-72 by Nadya & Bob Gruen

Watch Ike & Tina Turner – On The Road: 1971-72, now streaming on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.