The new HBO Max documentary “Tina” offers a candid, often shocking look at the life of Tina Turner and the struggles, triumphs and traumas she endured over her decades-long career. But the most shocking moment comes roughly an hour into the two-hour film when it’s revealed that a top Capitol Records executive hostile to signing her to the label once called her “an old n— douchebag.”
That nauseating story comes from a 2009 interview with John Carter, the Capitol producer, songwriter and A&R representative credited with reviving Turner’s career in the early 1980s. In audio, included as part of “Tina,” Carter details the conversation that would have occurred sometime in 1982-83, shortly after Carter signed Turner to Capitol over the objections of label executives.
Carter tells the interviewer: “The new regime comes in and like any new regime they have their own idea of what they want to do. So I flip out, go downstairs and I say, hey, this is my act. And the classic quote is, ‘Carter, you signed this old n—- douchebag?'”
According to Carter, his reaction to this was “Yeah, I did and I’m really happy about it. Now pick up the phone and call Roger Davies.” (Davies is Turner’s longtime manager.)
Carter then says the response he got was “no f—ing way,” so he went further. “I get on my knees and said ‘I’m now going to beg you and I’m not going to get up until you pick up the phone,’ he says in the interview. The push worked, because Carter goes on to explain that after a long stare down, they made the call.
“You’re back on the roster,” the executive told Carter. “You finish your record. But you understand we’re going to do nothing, that’s all there is.”
A Capitol Music Group spokesperson said in a statement provided exclusively to TheWrap that the label condemns those remarks and that it “is proud of our association with Tina Turner and the role we play in ensuring her music will continue to inspire new generations for decades to come.” Read more here.
Carter is widely credited with relaunching Turner’s career in the 1980’s despite that pushback, supporting her and championing her as she put together the album “Private Dancer” — her first with Capitol Records. Carter helped produce the title song, which went on to sell more than 20 million copies and launched Turner into global stardom.