Connecting with an icon: Northampton resident who once photographed Tina Turner says images helped fans connect with pop sensation

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 05-25-2023 5:34 PM

NORTHAMPTON — When Nona Hatay approached Tina Turner’s manager, Roger Davies, about photographing the singer’s May 1, 1982, appearance at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, he was not encouraging.

Hatay, who had been photographing singers and musicians on both coasts for many years at that point, was interested in high-energy performers for her experimental photography in which she would “sandwich” two black-and-white negatives into one and add color effects.

Davies told her no. Undeterred, she gave him some of her experimental photos of Jimi Hendrix and asked him to show them to Turner. She liked them and gave her permission to shoot the show.

“There were no other photographers there, so it was a unique experience,” Hatay said.

Turner, who died Tuesday in Switzerland at 83, was working hard to forge a solo career in 1982, having left the Ike & Tina Turner Revue six years earlier. Two years away from the commercial success she would later achieve with a string of ’80s hits, she was following residencies by Harry James and Ella Fitzgerald at the luxury San Francisco hotel.

“It was an amazing experience,” Hatay recalled of the show. As a photographer, she said, it’s not always possible to immerse yourself in the concert experience but, focused on the energy of the performance, she felt an emotional connection that night.

She notes that famed costume designer Bob Mackie designed the angel wings Turner wore, and used chains for the fringe because he figured beads wouldn’t survive the shaking she would give them.

Hatay, a Northampton resident for many years, began her experimental photography in New York City in the late 1960s, inspired by the dynamism of the Jimi Hendrix Experience to create images that expressed that energy.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

“There was so much going on in the music,” she said. “I would listen to one song over and over in the darkroom.” She created a series of experimental images, each of which was connected to a specific song.

She later compiled her work on Hendrix into a book, “Jimi Hendrix: Reflections and Visions.” Interest in Hendrix has never waned since his death in 1970, and Hatay said she continues to find new outlets for the work she did in that short time.

Hatay also sees Turner as an inspiration, to women and men, and she says people have told her that her photos helped them connect to her.

“That makes me very happy,” she said.

Hatay is now at work on her visual autobiography and will exhibit work from the first chapter, titled “New York 1969,” at the Northampton Senior Center in July.

James Pentland can be reached at jpentland@gazettenet.com.]]>