What it’s like to be ‘Tina Turner’ (and own 150 pairs of shoes)
It's all about the voice, the strut, the heels and the fans, says Tina tribute Justine, one of the line up of epic acts at St Albans' upcoming Legends Festival
Oh how we all need a darned good boogie and a laugh right now… And what better way to put a smile on our faces than rocking it out in a field to some live dance floor classics from the likes of George Michael, Queen, Abba, Madness and the diva royalty that is… Tina Turner. All these and more tribute acts are in the line up for the Legends Festival at St Albans on 31 July and 1 Aug.
Muddy was lucky enough to catch up with Tina, aka Justine Riddoch, to hear about what it’s like to fill the heels of a rock legend – all 150 pairs of them…
What made you want to become a tribute act?
I didn’t to be honest. I always really wanted to have recognition in my own right and be me, but then I gave up and went on Stars In Their Eyes as Anastacia.
What were you doing before?
I was a cabaret artist for 15 years.
Why Tina? Why not another artist?
People said I sounded like her when I was being Anastacia, and at one point I did a show called ‘The Divas’ and had a ton of costume changes and did 20 different singers, but then I realised there was one I did best – Tina. Plus, she’s an absolute legend! Who wouldn’t want her screaming fans?
Few people can sing like Tina. Did it never cross your mind to try and make it with your own material?
I’ve been trying for 30 years with various producers but sometimes it’s just right place, right time. I always think that with great tribute acts that I hear – we could all have been stars and have our own voice.
What’s it like touring as a tribute act?
Hard work. I don’t have the private jet or limo!! We do a lot of hard work on our own to try to re-create the best possible concert and homage to her legacy. It’s all about long nights, lots of washing and fixing costumes, and loads of rehearsals. I also edit all the video footage and we do our own promotion, so it’s really full on.
Did people ever actually mistake you as her?
Vocally wise a lot! But only once physically. An 80 year old man said he’d seen me in the 80’s and I hadn’t changed a bit. God love him!
Is there rivalry between the Tina tribute acts across the world? If so, can you let us in on some beef?
Not really. There’s actually camaraderie – we all support each other. I only know the UK ones and we swap gigs and costumes, helping when we can. There will only ever be one Tina, and we have spent our lives paying tribute to her.
What’s the greatest venue you’ve ever played and why?
Switzerland in the Alps – it was a restaurant 5,000 ft up, with people skiing past us.
Are there vocal tips and tricks that make you sound more like her? And strut like her?
The voice is a croak and sometimes hard to keep up as I want to naturally sing clearer but I talk the accent all the time so that helps.
Strut… well, it’s the heels. It does something to your posture. You can’t help but go mad after watching and studying her for so long.
Do you get fan mail/groupies? Funniest thing sent through the post?
We have what we call super TT fans. They love Tina and have linked to us now. They send me lots of lovely things – flowers mainly, but I did get a pair of slippers once (nice break from the heels!).
Have you ever met Tina?
Unfortunately no. I’d love to.
What’s your favourite song to perform and why?
There are so many. But Proud for the fabulous dance routine and her version of Help as it feels like me singing naturally.
What’s your favourite outfit and why?
All my shoes. I have 150 crystal pairs to match each outfit. And I do love my two long dresses that I alternate for Goldeneye. They’re floor length with a high slit and absolutely covered in beads. All others are short for those gorgeous Tina thighs.
Early bird tickets to the Legends Festival in St Albans currently cost £55 per day – get in there now girl! Can’t make St Albans? It’s also taking place in Henley (7 & 8 Aug), Guilford (28 & 29 Aug) as well as Bristol and Basingstoke (check the website for details and 2022 events). There’s food and drink on site but, refreshingly, you can take your own picnic (just not drink).