Let me tell you the story of how I got to perform with my idol. It is a long story, but a great one and I hope you will enjoy.
It all started when I heard Tina Turner was going on tour for the last time. As soon as I heard that, I made a goal to see at least 10 shows. I thought to myself, "I live with my parents, I only have one bill that I have to pay, and that is my car payment, and I am not in school, so this is the perfect time to do whatever I want with my money." As tickets went on sale at Ticketmaster, I only bought tickets for a few shows because I knew the real secret. If you waited until the day of the show, Ticketmaster would release tickets held for promotions, band members, people on the tour, and other people associated with the tour. That meant seats up front a lot of the time. So as time got closer for me to leave for the first show in Minneapolis on March 23, 2000, I booked my plane ticket. My plan was as soon as I got to Minneapolis I needed to go to a Ticketmaster outlet and just hang there until they release good seats. So I landed, got to the hotel, and went straight to the mall where the Ticketmaster outlet was. The 2 ladies who were there thought I was nuts, that there was no way I was going to get anywhere close to the stage. I waited and waited there for about 5 hours. Finally, 3:30 came, and I already had a ticket in the 35th row on the floor I’d purchased when the show went on sale as back up, so I basically gave up and went to the counter again and said to the lady, "Ok, check for me one more time, and then I am going to go back to my hotel and get ready for the show." She said okay and checked again. And as soon as she checked, her eyes got real big. She gasped and looked at me, saying, "Front row!" I looked at her like she was nuts and said, "NO WAY!" Then she looks at me and says, "Just kidding." I almost passed out. "Don't do that to me," I said back to her. She then looked at me again and said, " No, seriously, front row." Then she showed me the computer, and I saw it with my own eyes. There it was, front row. I still can't believe I did this, but I SCREAMED so loud, I had people outside the department run in cause they thought something was wrong. I was in complete shock; I couldn't believe that I was going to see my favorite singer, front row. I never thought the day would come.
So I say my good-byes, and the ladies are smiling with complete joy that I got a front row seat as I headed back to my hotel room. I got dressed and headed for the arena. When I got there, there were so many people passing out magazines, scalping tickets, taking pictures, buying merchandise, everything. It was great. I, however, had to go sit in my front row seat. I was so happy. I looked up at the stage, no more than a foot away from me, and I said to the security people behind the ropes, "Tina is going to be right there! She is going to sweat, spit, and look all over the front row, WHICH I AM IN!" The security people were very friendly.
After the great talents of Janice Robinson and Lionel Richie, the lights went out. I stood up and just went nuts. Something just came over me. The music starts for "Higher," and I am just jumping up and down in front of my seat. " Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. And dance like nobody's watching. Ladies and Gentlemen, Tina Turner!"
The lights come on, and there she is. I almost fell over. It was awesome. She put on a performance like no one could ever ever ever do, EVER! I was singing every word to every song, jumping and dancing around and just going crazy, having the time of my life. That night, Tina and me bonded on numerous occasions. I will never forget the very first time she noticed me. During "Absolutely Nothing's Changed", she sees me singing and dancing, and she points at me and calls me a fool. She did it as part of the song when she sings, " ........this spell I'm under, can't last much longer, any fool can see." Throughout the entire show, I did not sit down once. The whole show was amazing.
One thing I remember was during "When The Heartache Is Over". During the bridge, Tina and me did dance routine together, and she was just laughing and smiling big as day that I was doing that with her. Another time, during "Simply The Best" when she was dancing around, I was copying her right in sync, and she looks over at me and laughs, and then gives me a bent wrist hand gesture as if she was saying, "You are crazy." One last part of the show that I remember was during 24/7. She came out from backstage and grabbed the microphone and came right over to me, and we danced the snake dance, and sung the 1st verse together. The people around me were telling me Tina loves you. I was just having fun. When the show ended she took a bow and went to each side of the stage and said good-bye to everyone. She then comes over to me, looks at me in the eye with a huge smile, and said, “Thank you.” She blew me a kiss. I was frozen. She blew me a kiss and said thank you to me. I was shocked.
I flew home the next morning to find out they had showed the 1st 3 songs of the concert on VH1's Opening Night Live. I watched the video, and in between "Higher" and "Absolutely Nothing's Changed", who do they show in the audience jumping up and down and screaming as if I had won the lottery? Me. I was so embarrassed. I looked so, so, weird. But you can tell I was having a good time. The next show I went to was in Atlanta. There I met a few people who had seen me on Opening Night Live, and they just wanted to talk to me and take my shirt. It was funny. That night I wasn't up in the front; I was in the 7th row I think. I don't think Tina saw me that night, but after the show was over I got one of the dancers attention. Her name was Solange. I had pictures that I’d taken of them in Las Vegas when I first met them after the Millennium show. All three girls, Solange, Claire, and Ivona are very sweet. So I gave the pictures to her to give to the other girls, and she was so thankful and happy. Solange and I talked for about 2 or 3 minutes, and I told her about all the shows that I was going too, and she supported me the whole way. She said, "YES! Please do!"
I went to more shows, sitting fairly close to the stage within the first five rows, and Tina and I bonded more and more when I was in the audience. I also got more chances to talk to the girls before and after shows and also got to meet a few of the band members. Everyone is so cool and so nice. Not to mention, I got to meet a lot of other fans who were just as nice. I traveled to New Orleans, Dallas, my hometown, and then San Antonio. In San Antonio, I was in the 10th row over on the side. That arena was shaped weird and Tina could see the entire section on the far right of the stage, which is where I was. But I didn't care because I still had a good time. During "Let's Stay Together", something very exciting happened. Patrick, who is Tina's personal security guard, came over to me and asked me what my name was. I told him my name was Donovan, and he told me that Tina wanted to pass a message over to me saying that she is very excited that I am enjoying the show and that she is also very glad that I am having a good time. I almost started crying. I couldn't believe that Tina would take time to say that about me. So from that point on I knew one of my goals was met. I had told people that I was not interested in meeting Tina. If I did, I did, but if I didn't, that was fine. All I wanted is for Tina to know that I existed. That is all I wanted. And I had reached that goal. So I was happy.
I then traveled to Houston, Las Vegas, and then Kansas City. By this time I had learned most of the dance steps. I had also developed little sayings throughout the show to kind of let Tina know I was there. One saying was right after she sat down to sing "Help", I would yell out "I LOVE YOU TINA" at every show I went to. At first she would say thank you and blow me a kiss, but then as time went on and I kept doing it, she would look over at me and smile before I did it because she knew I was going to. One other thing I did was during Proud Mary while she was talking. She would always go, "And then..." and I would say in a deep Elton John-wannabe voice, "And theeeeen..." And every time that I would do that, she would look over at me and laugh and do it 2 more times, and I would repeat it again after she said it. That to me was the best part of the show was when I got to do that. Every time I was in the audience and she saw me, right before she would start saying "And then...." she would look at me in the corner of her eye and smile and give me that 1/2 look as if she was saying, "Are you ready?" Oh man, that was awesome.
In Kansas City, something very exciting happen to me again. I was in the 2nd row center with a friend of mine, and she had just finished singing "Help". Well, like normal, she introduces the song "Whatever You Need" from her new album. Well this time, she looked around and spots me and started laughing. I look over at my friend, John, and I say to him, "She's laughing at me." I didn't know or understood what I did. Then Tina says this in front of 30,000 people, "I have to take this time to say something. There is this kid in my audience who has been to many of my shows on this tour, and every time I see him, he reminds me so much of my passed piano player Kenny Moore. And every time I see him, it's as if Kenny's spirit has taken over him to let us know that he is still with us, and I am grateful for that. Could you give him a big round of applause please!" And the arena applauded like mad. I got a little misty, but not too bad.
So time went on and I traveled to Moline, St. Louis, and then 2 shows in East Rutherford. Both nights, me and a couple of my friends were able to go into the catering room after both shows. We hung out with the dancers, some of the band members, and family of the crew. The first night when I met Lisa Fisher, I went up to her and I said, "Hi Lisa, do you know that I have your song "How Can I Ease The Pain" on 45 record at home." Her and me just laughed and carried on. Lisa is a lot of fun. I then told her, "My name is Donovan by the way." She looks at me and says, " Donovan, you are the one that Tina talks about all the time." I kid you not. Again, I was in total shock. Amazed is more the word. Those two nights were very exciting and a lot of fun, but unfortunately we had to say good-bye to them all for about 3 months cause they were going to Europe, and I wasn't going to go. But we knew that they were coming back to the US to do it all over again, so I knew I could wait. I had reached my goal, I saw 12 shows, and Tina knew I existed. So I was a happy man.
3 months passed fast, and I joined the fan club so I was able to get first or second row for any show I wanted. I got to the first show of the 2nd leg of the tour in Boston and had a front row center seat. Now I cannot get this picture out of my mind. When Tina came on and started Higher, we fans in the front row were jumping up and down like crazy. Well, Tina looks down at us as she is singing, and for some reason when glances at me, she starts laughing and looks away. This show was awesome cause it was great to see her again after all that time, even though it was only 3 months.
So I go to Boston, then Chicago, Atlanta again, Austin, and then my hometown again in Dallas, TX. This night was a night that I will NEVER EVER forget as long as I live. At Reunion Arena, the 2nd row was full of fan club members from both ends. We all agreed that this night was Tina's best show that we had EVER seen. Everything was perfect. The crowd was wild; the music was clear and loud. Tina was energetic, fans all over the place, people going nuts left and right. I mean, it was more than a party; it was like a celebration of Tina Turner. It was amazing. Well, the show went normal all the way to Proud Mary. She introduces the band as normal, and then introduces the crew and says her thankyous. Then she does and says something that totally was BEYOND unexpected. She said "I want to do something now that I haven't had the opportunity to do before now, but I must take advantage of this because the tour is coming to an end. I am going to bring someone on stage with me now to perform the next song..." My friend and I think it’s Bryan Adams. But then I thought, well wait, it's Proud Mary, it has to be John Fogerty. Then Tina says, "He's been in my audience for about 25 shows, and we're gonna bring him up right now." And she looks right at me. I look back at her and give her this look like, WHATEVER, I am not going up there. She looks back at me and says, "Oh yes, come on, don't give me that look, come on, come on, come on." I am still frozen, I can't move at all. Then my friend Mike yells at me, "Get up there!" and he pushes me. And once I started going, I started jogging up towards the stage. I get on stage and I look up, and Tina is there with her arms wide open, and we just embraced. She hugs me tightly. She is so beautiful up close, and smells so good. After the 10 second hug, she looks at me and says, "You're gonna be good right? You'll behave yourself??" And I look at her with assurance that I was not going to attack her or anything, and told her that I was going to be good. She smiles at me and goes back over to the mic. "The girls met him, I haven't. This is the first time that I have been close to his face, except out there, so if you will indulge us for just a moment. We’re gonna see just how good he is. He’s always telling us when we’re messing up, huh? They’re all watching. You remember how many shows you’ve gone, how many? 17 shows. That’s a lot. Give me your name again. Donovan! Well, ladies and gentleman this is Donovan. Big round of applause. And the next one I think you might recognize this next one because her name is Mary!" While she is talking, Solange, Ivona, and Claire are giving me high five's and could not believe that Tina actually let me come on stage with her.
I immediately go right into it. From the beginning to the very end of the song I did the entire dance. I had seen it so many times I just knew it by heart. Every move that I did, the crowd went WILD! Tina kept looking over at me and just laughed every time she saw me. After the 10-minute song ended, I was pulled back stage by the girls. I get back there and the girls are just going nuts. They are hugging me and complimenting me saying how they couldn't believe that I knew all the steps. Tina then comes back there and runs past me with her thumbs up with a big smile on her face. I then go back to my seat during Nutbush as I was cheered on by people. After Nutbush was over, Tina took her bow with the rest of the dancers, and then looks over at me and blows me a kiss and says, "Donovan, you're a star!" I said thank you to her as she left the stage. All of the sudden, I was mobbed by everyone. Everyone knew me by my name! And everyone wanted me to sign their ticket stub, and a few people wanted my picture, and a few people wanted me to sign their tour books. I signed at least 200 things, and took at least 500 pictures. I LOVED IT! It was awesome. This was the best night of my life; nothing could top this because I was on top of the world at this point!
I went to Houston the next night. The show was awesome as usual. After the show I got to meet Ollie Marland's kids. Ollie was Tina’s keyboardist. His son came up to me and said, "Are you Donovan?" I told him I was. He then told me that he had talked to Tina before the show and he asked her who I was. She told him that I was this kid who went to many shows and she loved my personality and saw that I danced all the time while in the audience. She also told him that she had always wanted to me meet me, but she wanted it to be a surprise. I reminded her of Kenny Moore a lot,and that triggered it a bunch he said. I was overwhelmed. I felt like I owed her something, but in fact she gave me more that I could ever ask for.
Next stop for me were two shows in Las Vegas. The first show, for some reason, the crowd was weak. From the very beginning of the show until the end, the crowd did not stand up at all. The only people standing were the 2 front rows, which were mostly fan club members. But Tina still gave it her 100%. I was in the 2nd row. Well, she started Proud Mary, and at the beginning of that song, people usually stand up and clap and stuff. But not this crowd, they still sat down. So right in the middle of the introduction, she stops the song, "Wait, wait, wait, stop, stop, stop." She stops the song and grabs the mic and says, "I am going to do something that I don't normally do. There is this kid in the audience who knows every move, he knows every step, and I am going to have him perform this next song with us, and his name is Donovan." I shook my head at her and said, "No no no. That's okay!" She looked at me and said, "Donovan, get up here now!" So while 5 people were pushing me, I finally got up on stage. When I got on stage she said to the audience, “This is Donovan, and he is always down front, and he has also been annoying for the last 18 shows he has been too.” Everyone laughed. Then she starts Proud Mary again. This time, everyone in the arena is on their feet. This time I was more nervous because they were standing up watching me like a hawk, and Tina and everyone else knew it. But I did okay. After the show was over, I go walk through the hotel, and I was stopped every 3 seconds to say hi to someone, or sign something, or get a picture, or something like that. I LOVED IT! I walked into a restaurant inside the MGM Grand called Studio Cafe, and the entire restaurant—I kid you not—applauded. I was shocked. I mean, this whole restaurant went to the show, and knew me by my first name and everything. It was great. I love to be able to talk to people about Tina-related things, it was so much fun.
Then my last stop was Anaheim. The very last show of the tour. This show was awesome, but I was sad to see it come to a close. I remember the very first show in Minneapolis thinking to myself, "I have a lot of other shows that I am going to be seeing on this tour,” and after 21 shows, it had to come to an end. The show was as good as all the others. There were a few add ins, like Tina sung an entire verse to Whole Lotta Love, and when the girls were introduced they came out wearing Flower Tiaras. It was a great show. I did get to perform with her One Last Time. I knew it was going to happen, so I was prepared for it this time, so I didn't make any mistakes at all. I don't think I did at least. After it was over, Tina said her good-byes to everyone, and those of us who understood what was going on that night cried. Fans cried, the dancers cried, everyone was sad that it had to come to an end. I will never ever forget that night. I spoke with the dancers after the show with friends for about 15 minutes. We all had a great conversation and just talked and talked about different things. We then said our good-byes, and they promised us that they would see us again. I hope that is true. I was sad a little because I had nothing to look forward too anymore as far as another Tina concert. But at the same time I was very very happy for a few reasons. One reason, I did something 3 times that I never thought in a million years would ever happen. Two, Tina was going to go home and relax and do what she wanted to do. And three, I did something that I wanted to do, and I reached my small personal goals on the tour. Right now I am happy, and very thankful for Tina Turner picking me out of all the fans she has in the world to perform with her and taking a chance on me. And I am also happy that she is happy doing what she wants. Tina is the best! I Love you all!
Thank you for taking the time to read this.