Tina Turner, the iconic American singer, who emerged from a challenging upbringing and an abusive relationship to become one of the greatest recording artists in history, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 83.
According to her representative, Turner peacefully passed away at her residence in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, after a prolonged illness.
Starting her career in the 1950s during the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, Turner transformed into an MTV sensation.
In her music video for the chart-topping track “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” where she boldly declared love as a “second-hand emotion,” Turner epitomized the fashion of the 1980s as she confidently strutted through the streets of New York City, sporting her signature spiky blond hair, a cropped jean jacket, mini skirt, and stiletto heels.
With her penchant for musical experimentation and straightforward lyrical ballads, Turner perfectly fit the pop music landscape of the 1980s, where fans embraced electronically produced sounds and dismissed the ideals of the hippie era.
Often hailed as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Turner achieved six out of her eight Grammy Awards during the 1980s. Throughout that decade, she secured a dozen songs in the Top 40, including hits such as “Typical Male,” “The Best,” “Private Dancer,” and “Better Be Good to Me.” Notably, her 1988 concert in Rio de Janeiro drew an astounding crowd of 180,000 people, solidifying it as one of the largest audiences for a single performer.
By that time, Turner had been free from her tumultuous marriage to guitarist Ike Turner for over ten years.
The global superstar courageously shared her experiences of abuse suffered during her marriage and musical partnership with Ike Turner in the 1960s and 1970s. She openly spoke about her bruised eyes, busted lips, broken jaw, and other injuries that repeatedly sent her to the emergency room.
In a Rolling Stone feature that ranked Turner at No. 63 on the list of the top 100 artists of all time, singer Janet Jackson wrote about her, stating, “Tina’s story is not one of victimhood but one of incredible triumph.” Jackson further added, “She transformed herself into an international sensation – an elegant powerhouse.”
In 1985, Turner brought a fictional twist to her survivor image when she portrayed the ruthless leader of a post-apocalyptic outpost in the third installment of the Mad Max franchise, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” starring alongside Mel Gibson.
While many of Turner’s hit songs were written by others, she infused them with her distinctive voice, which New York Times music critic Jon Pareles described as “one of the more peculiar instruments in pop.” Pareles further elaborated in a 1987 concert review, stating, “It’s three-tiered, with a nasal low register, a yowling, cutting middle range, and a high register so startlingly clear it sounds like a falsetto.”
Actress Angela Bassett, who received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Turner in the 1993 film “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” expressed her gratitude for helping introduce Turner to the world. In a statement, Bassett said, “She gave us her whole self. Tina Turner is a gift that will always be ‘simply the best.'”
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones expressed his sadness over Turner’s passing, calling her “inspiring, warm, funny, and generous.” Jagger acknowledged her profound influence on him during his early years, stating, “She helped me so much when I was young, and I will never forget her.”
Canadian singer Bryan Adams, who collaborated with Turner on the 1985 hit single “It’s Only Love,” described her as “one hell of a powerhouse of a woman,” emphasizing the significant loss the world has suffered.
U.S. President Joe Biden honored Turner as a “once-in-a-generation talent” and highlighted her remarkable personal strength in a statement, acknowledging her ability to overcome adversity and build an extraordinary career and legacy that truly belonged to her.
Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in the rural Tennessee community of Nutbush, Turner encapsulated her upbringing in her 1973 song “Nutbush City Limits,” describing it as a “quiet little old community, a one-horse town.”
Her father worked as a farm overseer, and her mother left the family when Turner was 11 years old, as revealed in her 2018 memoir, “My Love Story.” As a teenager, she relocated to St. Louis to reunite with her mother.
At the age of 17, Turner caught the attention of Ike Turner when she grabbed the microphone to sing during one of his club shows in St. Louis in 1957.
The band leader subsequently recorded a hit song, “A Fool In Love,” with his protégé and bestowed upon her the stage name Tina Turner. The two later tied the knot in Tijuana, Mexico.
As the lead vocalist of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, Tina utilized her powerful voice and meticulously rehearsed dance routines. She collaborated with renowned rock musicians, including The Who and Phil Spector, during the 1960s and 1970s and graced the cover of the second issue of Rolling Stone magazine in 1967.
Ike and Tina Turner switched between various record labels, largely relying on an intense touring schedule for their commercial success. Their rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” became their biggest hit.
After enduring years of abuse, Turner made the courageous decision to leave her husband one fateful night in 1976 during a tour stop in Dallas. It happened after he assaulted her during a car ride, and she fought back, as detailed in her memoir. Their divorce was finalized in 1978.
Recognizing their impact as an electrifying live act, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted Ike and Tina Turner in 1991. The induction described them as “one of the most formidable live acts in history.” Ike Turner passed away in 2007.
Following her departure from her husband, Turner faced numerous challenges as she strived to reclaim her place in the spotlight. She released solo albums and singles that failed to gain traction and performed at corporate conferences.
In 1980, she crossed paths with her new manager, Roger Davies, an Australian music executive who would oversee her career for the next three decades. This collaboration led to her solo chart-topping hit, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” followed by her critically acclaimed album “Private Dancer” in 1984, which soared to the top of the charts.
“Private Dancer” became Turner’s most successful album, serving as the pinnacle of a career that saw her sell over 200 million records worldwide.
In 1985, Turner met German music executive Erwin Bach, who became her long-term partner. By 1988, she had relocated to London, beginning a residency in Europe that would span decades. Throughout the 1990s, she released two studio albums that achieved significant success, particularly in Europe. She also recorded the theme song for the 1995 James Bond film “GoldenEye” and embarked on a triumphant world tour in 2008 and 2009.
Following her retirement from the music industry, Turner focused on her personal life. She married Bach, relinquished her U.S. citizenship, and became a citizen of Switzerland.
In her later years, Turner faced various health issues, and in 2018, she experienced the tragic loss of her oldest son, Craig, who took his own life at the age of 59 in Los Angeles. Her younger son, Ronnie, passed away in December 2022.
Despite her retirement, Turner’s name continues to captivate audiences worldwide. The musical stage production “TINA: The Tina Turner Musical,” featuring Adrienne Warren portraying Turner’s life story, became a resounding success in London’s West End in 2018 and subsequently on Broadway, where it continues to run. Additionally, in 2021, HBO released a documentary titled “Tina,” providing an intimate look into her extraordinary life.
Turner is survived by Bach and her two adopted sons from Ike Turner’s previous relationships. Her legacy remains an enduring source of inspiration and admiration across generations.
Written by: Artificial Intelligence Technology