The Day Tina Died

(Tina Turner 50th Anniversary Tour – Creative Common Philip Spittle, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Sometimes it’s pretty astonishing how someone you’ve never met can impact your life. Yesterday, May 24, 2023, the world learned that the iconic singer; Tina Turner died at 81, and it felt so surreal because I’d just been thinking about her a couple of days ago and about a trip, I’d gone on with my mom.

I know many people can tell you the history of rock and roll or tell your stories about every concert they’ve attended, and I’m always in awe. Yes, music has touched me throughout my life. Growing up, I loved the Monkees and remember going to the movie “Hard Day’s Night,” which starred the Beetles. I remember my first concert was Three Dog Night, and I’ve gone to live theatre presentations of Phantom and Guys and Dolls, and actually, a few more came to mind as I wrote this. But I wouldn’t say I was a music person. All I can say is my taste is all over the map, and I like what I like.

In some ways, Tina Turner came into my life at a time that, looking back, really makes sense. It was in the very late 90s, and it was right around then that I’d decided to divorce my husband. I won’t get into all the details but suffice it to say that although my marriage hadn’t been physical like Tina’s, I could relate to the mental abuse part.

So during the time before my divorce and after, I listened to songs like “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” and as I started realizing that I was free to be me after the divorce, I filled my home and car with the sounds of, “The Best“, “On Silent Wings” and many more.

One of the best memories of Tina was when in 2000, she was on what was deemed her final world tour. Tina wasn’t going to be in Edmonton, but she did have a date in Calgary at the Saddledome on November 25th. One of the Edmonton local radio stations had a contest to win airfare, accommodations at the Fairmont Palliser, and two tickets to Tina’s show at the Saddledome.

I actually phoned in and got through on the last day and was one of the last people to qualify for a chance to win. You can imagine my surprise when, later that evening, when I was out with a friend, I got a call from the radio station saying I’d won the trip.

It was a busy weekend for Calgary because the concert was on November 25, and the Grey Cup game was on November 26. My mom loved listening to Tina, so I invited her to go on the trip. We arrived Friday night before the concert and settled into the Fairmont Palliser.

(Fairmount Palliser Hotel User:Thivierr, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I laughed while writing this because that Friday, my mom and I had gone for a walk near the hotel, looking for a place to eat. We ended up on 8th Street, just two streets from the Palliser (remember this for later). We decided on a noisy pub that had terrific food. I’m sorry that I don’t recall the name of that pub, but when we decided that we were ready to go back to the hotel, my mom insisted that we were going to take a cab. I tried to explain to her that 8th Street was a blocked-off street and no cabs could come to the door, and if we got them to go to the end of the Street, we would be 800 feet from the hotel. But there was no way I could convince my mom that it would be safe to walk there by ourselves. So I went to the bar and asked the bartender to call a cab to take us to the Palliser. He looked at me strangely, and I said, “I know, but could you have them come to the end of the block because my mom doesn’t feel comfortable for us to walk alone?” He smiled and said, “I need a break, so why don’t I escort you two ladies to the hotel.” As it turned out, he was the bar’s owner, and he walked us to the hotel.

Saturday before the concert, we walked to the Devonian Gardens and arrived back at the hotel just in time to see the Grey Cup Parade that passed right in front of the hotel. Getting to the concert was a quick lite transit ride to the Saddledome with access only steps away from the hotel. The show was terrific and is one of those memories you’ll always have.

My last memory of that trip was when my mom and I went to the spa at the hotel. As we walked to the pool and hot tub area, we had to walk down a hall that looked into the pool area. I did a double take as I looked in and saw Mr. T in the hot tub. He gave me a smile and a quick wave. I’m not sure why he was staying at the Palliser. I should have asked him when I was in the hot tub because I got to chat with him, but I never thought to ask whether he was there for Tina or Grey Cup.

So those are my memories of a wonderful trip with my mom to Calgary to see one of my favorite singers, Tina Turner, staying at the iconic Palliser Hotel and chit-chatting with Mr. T in the hot tub.

This article will be transferred and expanded in my endeavor to write my family history. I store my photos at FOREVER, and I’m writing my book using Artisan 6. If you’d like to do the same, ask me how. I can help.


  • Robyn Anderson says:

    Great story! I too saw Tina Turner in concert in 2000. I was on a short term assignment in Dublin, Ireland at the time and I have vivid memories of that great outdoor concert. Lionel Ritchie was her warm up act and he was awesome too. I’ve always been a Tina fan and I was saddened to hear of her death. She was a classic and her music will live on. Thanks for sharing your Tina Turner story. (And Mr. T in the hot tub made me laugh!).

  • Christine Urbom says:

    Great story!

  • Pat Proskurniak says:

    What a cool win!