‘She was a female Otis Redding’: The one singer Steve Cropper wished he’d collaborated with

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Steve Cropper, the ace producer and sideman at Stax Records, ended up playing with most every one he’d ever admired over the years — except for one person: Tina Turner.

“I’ve always said that; I’ve said it for years,” Cropper admits in a talk with Michael Berry. embedded below. “I get asked: ‘Who is the artist that you didn’t get to work with that you would have loved to have worked with?’ The first name is ‘Tina Turner.’ She’s just unbelievable. I saw her three times live, and I couldn’t believe it.”

The now 73-year-old Turner, who rose to fame alongside her former husband Ike in the 1960s then made a remarkable solo comeback with 1984’s Private Dancer, announced over the summer that she is retiring from lengthy tours. Turner’s last concert is scheduled for November in San Francisco.

For a long-time admirer like Cropper, that will mark a sad occasion. The guitarist says that we’ve only seen the likes of Turner one other time in music history, referencing a close musical confidants from the glory days of Stax.

“The thing I got out of her,” Cropper says, “as an artist, seeing her live: She was a female Otis Redding. And to me, Otis Redding was the greatest artist that ever lived. You had to be there, you had to see it in person — because it’s so hard to describe how great somebody is. But it’s easy to see, if you can take somebody to a concert.”

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