Tina Turner's 1983 cover of this song revitalized her career, returning her to the charts in both the UK and US for the first time for over a decade. After divorcing Ike Turner in 1976 she jumped on the disco trend with solo albums in 1978 and 1979 that went nowhere. In 1982, she released a cover of The Temptations "Ball Of Confusion
" that was produced by the B.E.F. production team, which comprises Heaven 17 members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh. Turner and her manager Roger Davies liked this direction and enlisted them for more help.
In our interview with Martyn Ware
, he recalled: "They said, 'Would you be interested in writing a song for Private Dancer
?' And I said, 'Well, we don't really write for other people.' We felt a bit self-conscious because we thought that what we did was our particular thing. It wasn't just an arrogance thing; it was, like, 'God, how would we start writing a song for Tina Turner?' Seriously. She was a legend in our eyes. I said, 'Well, I don't really feel confident with that, but I really would like to do a cover version, or a couple of cover versions, so we ended up drawing up a shortlist."
"She was staying in London at the time," Ware continued, "and the one track I really wanted to do with her was 'Let's Stay Together' because I thought she had turned her back a little bit on her soul roots - she clearly wanted to be a rock singer. I said, 'Look, as far as I'm concerned Tina, you are still one of the greatest soul singers in the world.' And I said, 'What were your influences when you were growing up?' And she said, 'Otis Redding, Sam Cooke.' And I said, 'How would you feel about "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green?' And she jumped at the idea."
Turner had just signed to Capitol Records, which released her version of "Let's Stay Together" in the UK. With backing vocals by Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 and a modern production touch supplied by B.E.F., the song took off, rising to #6 in December 1983. Issued in the US, the song became a favorite in New York dance clubs and rose to #26 in March 1984. After it hit in the UK, Capitol commissioned a full album, giving Turner two weeks to record what became Private Dancer
, which returned Turner to stardom.