The night David Bowie seduced Tina Turner with wigs and sushi

David Bowie’s legendary flirtation with Tina Turner took a hilarious turn with sushi, a spare wig, and a naked rendition of 'Proud Mary'.

In the varied and strange web of romantic relationships David Bowie enjoyed and endured, few are as odd as his lesser-known seduction of rock n’ roll’s queen, Tina Turner, in the most romantic of European cities – Birmingham.

In the music world’s savage heart, Bowie was not just the chameleon maestro, the pied piper of pop strangeness. Beyond the wizardry and glittery façade, Bowie lived a life punctuated by wild, unabashed promiscuity. His libido matched his melodies, a testament to the ease and fluidity that defined both his art and his bed-hopping escapades.

Rumours swirled around over Bowie’s exploits. From tales of tangled sheets with Mick Jagger, to the downright bizarre saga of his tryst with the mother of Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. 

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that there was another icon Bowie successfully wooed: the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ herself, Tina Turner. It’s said Bowie spent four years trying to seduce the iconic singer and finally managed to do it by singing one of her biggest hits, ‘Proud Mary’, in a hotel room, wearing one of her wigs and nothing else.

This remarkable anecdote was shared in a 2020 interview, recounted by Turner’s close confidant and assistant, Eddy Hampton Armani. Armani’s account reveals the lengths to which Bowie, known for his pioneering music and flamboyant alter egos, went to win over Turner. Described as “sleazy, humorous and borderline lecherous,” the incident highlights Bowie’s playful and daring side, depicting him as a figure who, in his own unique manner, attempted to blend the roles of a pop icon and a modern-day lothario.

READ MORE: Simply the best | Remembering Tina Turner through her most iconic hits

Armani said: “It was in 1985, and they were performing at ­Birmingham’s NEC on the UK leg of her Private Dancer tour. She told me David had already told her many times, ‘I want you’. I was asked to collect sushi from David’s favourite Mayfair restaurant in London and bring it up to Birmingham for them”.

“I arrived to see their sound-check on stage and they were teasing each other. Later they went back to the hotel and had the sushi. The next morning I went to Tina’s room and she was acting really strangely. She said, ‘Oh my god, David is so naughty’. She told me David came on to her and she said, ‘I thought, ‘Oh, we will have a bit of fun’. And they did”.

He continued: “Then Tina started laughing and said, ‘He went to have a shower, then he walks out, stark naked, wearing one of my spare wigs. He started singing ‘Rolling On The River’ and was dancing just like me’.”

Armani reflected that this moment of “explosive chemistry” brought “a whole new meaning” to Turner’s 1984 hit ‘Private Dancer’. But that’s not where this oddity ends.

Tina Turner
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives.
David Bowie
Photo: Steve Morley

Armani elaborated on how he went to the NEC for the show, and “David appeared at the top of a long flight of stairs on the stage. Tina turned around with the biggest smile that said, ‘I had an exciting night’. The atmosphere between them was electric”.

He remembers clearly: “On stage, he whispered something to her and Tina burst out laughing. She later told me he’d said, ‘My c**k is still sore’. He was one of only a few lucky men who won over Tina”.

So there you have it. Next time you hear ‘Private Dancer’ come on, you’ll forever have an image of David Bowie parading around in a wig in a Birmingham hotel room, determined to woo Tina Turner.

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