Soul Survivor is an apt title for this long-awaited
autobiography. Pat Cole, professionally known as PP Arnold, grew
up in LA although she was born in Texas. By the age of 17, she
was married with two children. However, this was an abusive
marriage and came on top of physical abuse she suffered growing
up. A chance encounter gave her a way out. Tina Turner
encouraged her to become an Ikette with the Ike & Tina Turner
Revue. Tina was herself a victim of domestic abuse. Working as
an Ikette was tough. Ike was a hard taskmaster. The drive for
perfection resulted in an amazing show (as archive footage
shows) but it frequently ventured into abuse, fining band
members for minor misdemeanours but it became much worse than
Pat joined the Revue for a tour of the UK supporting the
Rolling Stones. They
were very supportive of her, in particular Ian Stewart and Mick Jagger. She was
encouraged the leave the Ike & Tina Turner Revue which was not easy. Not only
did she incur the wrath of Ike but she was a young shy black girl with two
children back home and she had landed right in the middle of swinging London.
She was signed to the Immediate label and soon she became a solo artist as well
as adding her soulful vocals to other Immediate artists such as the Small Faces.
It was a time of "free love" and drug experimentation and, apart from hard drugs
at this stage, Pat enjoyed the attention, the hit singles and the touring as an
artist in her own right.
However, a recurring theme throughout the book is that as soon as something
starts to go well, there is an event that turns everything upside-down. The
Immediate label folded and suddenly Pat was without a record deal or money. The other
recurring theme is one of optimism. Whenever things are at a low point, there is
an opportunity. Through her second husband Jim, Pat met up with Barry Gibb of
the Bee Gees and started to record. Then Gibb was enveloped in Bee Gees politics
and the songs were not released until 2017's The Turning Tide. A later
opportunity to work with Barry Gibb provided more optimism. However, after a
cross-country drive from LA to Miami, the Bee Gees career took off and
Gibb had no time to produce Pat and so the opportunity disappeared. This had
become a familiar story.
With her career veering between success and freefall she was always
looking out for her children. This meant frequent moves between London
and LA and, for brief periods, Surrey and the Cotswolds. However, while
living in LA her daughter Debbie was killed in a car accident. Also, a
longer term relationship failed to work out both professionally and
personally and so Pat was still trying to resurrect her career while
being a single mother.
Anyone who has met Pat or heard her sing live will now the positive
attitude and happiness that she projects despite the incredible problems
she has faced in her life. Still touring and playing Glastonbury at the
age of 75 her voice has lost none of its power and soul. She has
overcome constant personal and professional challenges to maintain a
position of one of the most powerful soul voices around.
This book is an easy and excellent read. Pat wrote it herself,
starting in 1994, and without the help of a ghostwriter. There is also
extensive research into her family origins going back to Texas cotton
plantations and native American Indians. This is not just about music
although the period with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue is
particularly fascinating but it is the life story up to the mid-1980s of
a true soul survivor.
Published: 7 July 2022
Nine Eight Books