“Private Dancer” was American singer Tina Turner’s fifth single from her fifth solo album of the same name, released in May 1984.
“Private Dancer” was originally written by Mark Knopfler, the lead vocalist, songwriter and guitarist in the British rock band Dire Strairs. However, after the instrumental version was recorded, Knopfler considered the lyrics unsuitable to be sung by a male singer, so the track was cut. Legal restrictions stopped Tina Turner using the recording, so Dire Straits remade the song two years later, with Terry Williams replacing the original drummer Pick Withers and Knopfler not appearing on the track. In an interview with BBC Radio 1 DJ Roger Scott in 1991, Turner spoke about the situation in more detail: “Roger [Turner’s manager] knows Knopfler’s manager Ed Bicknell, and Bicknell said, ‘I think Mark has a song that could fit Tina, that he never used because he thought it was a song for a girl.’ Mark produced the song and sang it, and after he did it he felt that it was not a song for a man, so it was just sitting on the shelf… He gave me the track and I copied it with Dire Straits people – most of them. At first I was going to try to just put my voice on Mark’s tapes, but there was a record company problem, so we got Mark’s musicians, Dire Straits, and went into the studio… Someone said, ‘Why did you select “Private Dancer”? It’s a song about a hooker. Is it because you’ve been a hooker?’ And I was shocked… I didn’t see her as a hooker… I can be naive about some of these things. But actually the answer is no. I took it because it was an unusual song. I’d never sung a song like it. And I wish you could hear Mark’s version of it. He’s got a very English-sounding voice… and it was really quite beautiful…. A very arty song… so I put the old soulful touch on it.” The track is sung from the perspective of a prostitute and her life.
The music video was directed by Brian Grant and was filmed in London’s Rivoli Ballroom, and was uploaded to Tina Turner’s official YouTube channel in March 2009. It features Turner as a disillusioned ballroom dancer, and was choregraphed by Arlene Philips. As of November 2019, the video has almost 28 million views and over 87,000 likes.
Release Date: 28th October 1984
Songwriter: Mark Knopfler
Producer: John Carter
Label: Captiol Records
Music Video Upload Date: 13th March 2009
Music Video Director: Brian Grant
Chart Rankings: “Private Dancer” ranked on global charts in its year of release. The track’s peak positions in different countries are as follows: #21 in Australia, #5 in Belgium, #11 in Canada and Finland, #20 in Germany, #14 in Ireland, #4 in the Netherlands, #5 in New Zealand, #6 in Spain, #26 in the UK, #7 on the US Billboard Hot 100, #30 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and lastly, #3 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
The lyrics to “Private Dancer” can be found here: LINK