After a protracted illness, Tina Turner, a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer who rose to fame as a pop icon in the 1980s, passed away at 83. Her health had declined recently; she received a diagnosis of intestinal cancer in 2016 and underwent kidney transplantation in 2017. Mick Jagger said that Turner’s high-kicking, energizing live performances inspired his stage character because she confirmed and accentuated Black women’s early role in rock’n’roll.
After spending two decades making music with her controlling husband, Ike Turner, she went it alone and, after a few false starts, with the release of the album Private Dancer, became one of the vital pop idols of the 1980s. Three memoirs, a biography, a jukebox musical, and the acclaimed documentary film Tina all provided accounts of her life.
Her spokesman, Bernard Doherty, released the following statement on Wednesday night: “Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock’n Roll,’ passed away peacefully today at 83 following a protracted illness in her home in Kusnacht, Switzerland, close to Zurich. She leaves behind a musical legend and a role model for the world. For the Guardian in 2018, academic Daphne A. Brooks stated:
“Turner’s musical character has always been a charged combination of mystery and light, melancholy mixed with a ferocious vitality that often flirted with danger.” Turner was up near Nutbush, Tennessee, where she recalls picking cotton with her family as a child. Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939.
As a teenager, she talked or sang in Ike’s band in St. Louis after singing in the little town’s church choir. He had first turned her down until he overheard her take the stage during a Kings of Rhythm performance to sing BB King’s You Know I Love You. Ike gave her the name Tina Turner after seeing her vocal prowess and registered the name as a trademark in case she left him, and he wanted to replace her in his show.
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When Turner attempted to leave the group early on after getting a feel of his erratic nature, he beat her with a wooden shoe stretcher. He immediately turned nasty. In her 2018 memoir My Love Story, Turner stated, “Ike’s realization that I was going to be his moneymaker was the day our relationship was doomed.”
“He needed psychological and financial control over me so I could never leave him.” With the Ike and Tina Turner single A Fool in Love, which broke the US Top 30 and began a solid chart success, she made her recorded debut under the moniker in July 1960. However, it was their live performances that propelled them to fame.
Due to their economic success, Ike aggressively travelled the Ike and Tina Turner Revue on the Chitlin’ Circuit, performing in front of crowds of people of different races. Their first album to chart was Live! The Ike & Tina Turner Show was released 1964 by Warner Bros imprint Loma Records.
Several of the biggest names in rock courted the pair throughout the second half of the 1960s. They supported the Rolling Stones in the UK, and then the US, and celebrities like David Bowie, Sly Stone, Cher, Elvis Presley, and Elton John visited their Las Vegas residency. Phil Spector produced the 1966 single River Deep – Mountain High.
They were a powerhouse on the charts and Grammy winners in the 1970s, but their run ended when Turner split up with Ike in 1976 because he had been abusive and disloyal regularly. The 1975 movie adaptation of the Who’s rock opera Tommy, Baby, Get It On featured her as Acid Queen, a character with the same name as her second solo album, and was her final single with the group.
Turner only received two cars and the rights to her theatrical name as part of the divorce, which was finally settled in 1978. She claimed in the documentary Tina that “Ike fought a little bit because he knew what I would do with it.” Turner, who had already released two solo records, continued to pursue a solo career.
Still, it would take her until the release of her fifth album, 1984’s Private Dancer, for her to replace the previous image of the shimmying rock’n’roller with one of a powerful, mullet-sporting, leather-clad pop icon and avoid being prematurely relegated to the oldies circuit. She referred to Private Dancer as her debut in the film Tina. I don’t think of it as a return, she declared. Tina had never shown up.
Turner attributed the positive influence of Buddhism, particularly the practice of chanting, to her life in the 1980s. She co-starred with Mel Gibson in 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, a film unrelated to music. Her debut book was her 1986 global smash I, Tina, which was eventually made into the 1993 movie What’s Love Got to Do With It? starring Angela Bassett as Turner. She sang the GoldenEye theme song in 1995 for the James Bond movie.
While she returned to the stage in 2008 to perform with Beyoncé at the Grammy Awards and for a final tour to honour 50 years of her career, Turner declared her retirement in 2000, a year after releasing her last solo album, Twenty-Four Seven. It was undeniably over at that point. In 2019, she admitted to the New York Times, “I was just tired of singing and making everyone happy.” I had only ever done that in my life.
Together with Phyllida Lloyd, Turner worked on the 2018 Broadway and West End debut of the musical Tina, which went on to win the Laurence Olivier and Tony Awards. Turner remarked of the show, “This musical is not about my popularity. “It concerns my travels to get there. Every night, I want viewers to leave the theatre knowing that medicine may be made from poison.
Turner frequently said that she did not identify with the “invincible” reputation that others gave her. According to her, being a “strong” person is not necessarily something she aspires to be. “My life was miserable. I just carried on. You keep walking and waiting for anything to happen. Turner became the first singer to have UK Top 40 success in seven straight decades in 2020, thanks to a remix of her 1984 single
What’s Love Got to Do With It? by the Norwegian producer Kygo. Thirty years after Ike and Tina Turner’s entrance, she was given a solo induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. Erwin Bach, a German music businessman, was Turner’s second spouse. After 27 years of dating, they married in July 2013 and settled in Switzerland. Turner gave up her US citizenship in 2013 to become a Swiss citizen.
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Craig Raymond Turner, her firstborn, passed away in July 2018. Turner stated last year that her other son Ronnie “left the world far too early” when he passed away at 62. Ike Turner Jr. and Michael Turner, two of Ike Turner’s sons whom she adopted, are her surviving children.
Turner admitted to having significant health issues in 2020 but stated her last ten years had embodied her idealized picture of bliss. “Having an unwavering, hopeful spirit that can shine, no matter what comes from having true and lasting happiness,” she remarked. I’ve succeeded in achieving that, and my biggest desire is to assist others in achieving genuine happiness.
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