Valley concert promotor Danny Zelisko remembers Tina Turner: ‘She just became a friend’
May 27, 2023, 6:30 AM
(AP File Photo)
PHOENIX — While the world lost another hero when Tina Turner died this week, longtime Valley concert promotor Danny Zelisko lost a close friend.
Zelisko told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday, a day after Turner died at her home in Switzerland at age 83, he first met the legendary performer nearly 50 years ago.
“I had met her in 1975 when Herbie Hancock and Billy Dee Williams took me for a ride in California to a temple and exposed me to the world of chanting, which is a Buddhist form of prayer,” Zelisko said.
Zelisko next saw Turner again when he booked her to play at Dooley’s, a long-gone Tempe nightclub, in 1981.
“She suggested we get down on our knees and start chanting, and we did it again,” he said.
“We remained close as a result of that, not because of being a fan, not because I’m a promoter and I’m paying her, employing her to sing, or anything like that. She just became a friend.”
Zelisko said he promoted dozens of Turner’s shows over the next 20 years.
“Every time she came out, I got my little block of dates and we got to spend a week doing shows together, and it was always a blast. First-class crews, first-class shows and, of course, Tina,” he said.
“She was so happy to to be a star and, more importantly, for people to know who she was and love her. She had a great rush going out on stage and performing, and there’s really nothing like her on stage.”
Turner famously emerged from an abusive marriage and professional partnership with Ike Turner to become a solo superstar in the 1980s.
Zelisko said she deserves credit for being a rock and roll trailblazer.
“She opened up a lot of doors for for everybody, but especially women. Look at all the rock stars that have become popular since the very early ’80s as a result of Tina Turner not only coming out with that energy and that talent, but to show that it could be done,” he said.
“Up until then, for the most part … rock was a very male-oriented. And she blew it wide open.”
While Turner was an unstoppable force of nature on stage, Zelisko described her as “very normal” and “very regular” in person.
It’s been a difficult year for the promoter, with the recent deaths of Jeff Beck, David Crosby and now Turner.
“When they leave us, it’s painful, and it’s kind of a sign of the times. It makes you think,” he said.
“So, do what Tina would do: Hug your family, call your friends, tell them you love them and get together with them sooner than later, because you just never know.”
Zelisko encourages fans of older rock stars not to miss chances to see them — and to bring their kids.
“One day they’re going to be gone and you’re gonna miss them and you’re going to go, ‘Oh, I wish I would have seen them,’ or ‘I wish I brought my kids to see them,’ because these are truly … among the greatest influences you can expose your kids … people who came from nothing and became stars or famous or just really good at what they do by practicing and never giving up, and that I think is Tina Turner,” he said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Shira Tanzer contributed to this report.