Written By: Ben Cosgrove
David Bowie probably came closest to summing up Tina Turner’s fiery, un-sum-up-able persona when he famously said, after joining her onstage in Birmingham, England, during the final concert of her 1985 British tour: “Standing up there next to her was the hottest place in the universe.”
Here LIFE.com presents a handful of rare photos taken in 1970 by Gjon Mili. The exact date of the shoot? Unknown. The location? Probably Las Vegas. The show’s set list? Unknown. The identity of the guy gazing back at Mili’s camera in the last picture in this gallery? A mystery.
But one thing these pictures do manage to impart is confirmation that, when Tina Turner took the stage—no matter where that stage was, and no matter how large or how small the crowd might be—there was no simply no restraining her talent and soulfulness.
Liz Ronk edited this gallery for LIFE.com.