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WNY connection: A guitarist from Amherst toured with Tina Turner for 2 decades

We're going back to 1986 when WGRZ's Scott Brown went to California to interview James Ralston.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There always seems to be a Western New York connection, and as fans remember the legendary Tina Turner, we are revisiting a Buffalo connection we first brought you in 1986.

The guitarist who toured with Tina Turner for two decades grew up in Amherst.

Sixteen years before being inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, WGRZ's Scott Brown sat down with guitarist James Ralston for his "Buffalo Rocks" series. Ralston was making little money selling T-shirts when he heard Tina Turner needed a guitarist.

"I couldn't reach the guy I was working for, so I just packed up the stand, and I split and went home, grabbed my amp, went to the audition, and got the gig," Ralston said.

Ralston toured with Tina Turner from 1980 to 2000, but at first, they weren't playing at big venues.

"Back then it was Tina Turner who was playing hotels in Las Vegas and playing two shows, and two shows a night, to people eating steak and baked potatoes," Ralston said.

Ralston ended up playing guitar on some of Tina Turner's biggest hits, including her hit single "Simply The Best." He was also in the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It."

Ralston was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2002.

"He's come back. He was inducted, I think, in 2015 in a band called FLASH. But his pedigree is absolutely amazing," said Anthony Casuccio, president of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.

The president of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame says Ralston played on two of Tina Turner's albums and even co-wrote the song "On Silent Wings."

"From what I've heard, is he just thinks highly of Tina Turner, or he thought highly of her, and his musicianship and his status in the world of music just highlights the musicianship that comes out of Buffalo, New York. You know, we've been a center of amazing musicians who've gone on and done wonderful things around the world and really represented Buffalo," Casuccio said.

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