After several challenging years of going solo after divorcing Ike, Private Dancer propelled Turner in becoming a viable solo star, as well as one of the most marketable crossover singers in the recording industry. It became a worldwide commercial success, earning multi-platinum certifications in Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. To date, it remains her best-selling album in North America. Private Dancer produced seven singles, including "What's Love Got to Do with It", "Better Be Good to Me", "Private Dancer", and "Let's Stay Together". Positively received by critics on release for Turner's ability to give energy and raw emotion to slickly produced professional pop/rock songs; its long term legacy is that the softening of her raw Southern soul style produced a "landmark" in the "evolution of pop-soul music". The album was promoted throughout 1985 in a 177 date worldwide tour called the Private Dancer Tour.
A&R manJohn Carter of Capitol Records is credited with relaunching the career of Tina Turner in the 1980s. In 1983, despite opposition from within Capitol, he signed her and managed her first album for the label, Private Dancer. The album itself was produced in England using several different producers.
The album was released on 29 May 1984 and became an outstanding commercial success. Private Dancer has been certified 5 × Platinum (5 million) in the United States and sold around 250,000 each week for 2 months. Worldwide the album has been estimated to have sold over 20 million copies.
In 1997, EMI, the parent label of Capitol Records, released a digitally remastered Centenary Edition of the Private Dancer album on CD, then including four additional demo tracks recorded in late 1983 and early 1984 with the producer John Carter, first released as B-sides to some of the Private Dancer singles, as well as three extended 12" remixes. The album remains the only Tina Turner studio album to have been re-issued in digitally remastered form.
The critical reviews of the album were positive. The Los Angeles Times reviewer felt that her voice "melts vinyl". Debby Miller, in a July 1984 Rolling Stone review, felt that the album was a powerful comeback, with Turner's voice "rasping but strong", and a range of songs that were all good in a "modern rock setting" that was "neither detached nor very fussy".Robert Christgau felt that she was able to deliver with honesty the "middlebrow angst of contemporary professional songwriting" and remain in control of an album with four different production teams to give it a "seamless authority".
A 177 date tour to promote the album took place from February 8, 1985 to December 28, 1985. Called the Private Dancer Tour, there were 60 shows in Europe, 105 in North America, 10 in Australia, and 2 in Japan. Opening acts in North America included Glenn Frey and Mr. Mister. As well as songs from the album, Turner performed the hits from her time with Ike & Tina, such as "River Deep – Mountain High", "Nutbush City Limits", and "Proud Mary".
Alex Henderson, in a retrospective AllMusic review, says that the album was slicker than her R&B classics recorded with Ike & Tina, but she was still able to sing with a throaty passion to deliver her finest solo production.Stephen Holden has written in The New York Times that by using her English producers to soften her raw Southern soul style, discarding the "blaring horns, frenzied percussion and gospel calls and responses", the album became a "landmark" in the "evolution of pop-soul music".
Michael Lydon, in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, says that the album's lyrical themes embodied her persona of a "tough, sexy woman schooled in a tough world", and that her vocal delivery overcomes the slick production, with her "indomitable soul" unifying the multiple producers. In 1989, the album was ranked #46 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the '80s. In 2003, the TV networkVH1 named Private Dancer the 95th greatest album of all time. Slant Magazine listed the album at #63 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" saying "Both a personal liberation and sonic redemption, Private Dancer established Turner not only as a genuine diva, but a bona fide force of nature".