It was confirmed by representatives that Tina Turner, the global superstar and icon passed away at the age of 83.
She famously overcame hardship and domestic abuse to become a global star with several accolades and achievements to her name. For Life Stories, we chart the star's historic career and life.
When a neighbour invited schoolgirl Tina Turner to her house to watch television because Turner's family didn't own one, she was overjoyed. Not only was the invitation itself momentous (this was the 40s in America's Deep South where black people were still segregated and her neighbour was white) but it opened her eyes to a world she never knew existed. 'I didn't know anything about being a star until the white people allowed us to come down and watch their television once a week,' Turner later recalled. 'That's when I saw Loretta Young fan actress who was nominated for two Best Actress Oscars in the 40s, winning one of them in 1947] on TV. I thought that someday I'd have a star on my dressing room.'
As history proved, she got her star. Turner grew up to become one of the 20th century's most successful recording artists, earning twelve Grammys and holding the record for being the highest-grossing female concert performer. She is also the woman who famously clawed her way back to the top after fleeing an abusive marriage with only 36 cents to her name, an inspiring story that has been immortalised in a West End stage show, Tina: The Musical.
Born Anna Mae Bullock on 26 November 1939 in Nutbush, Tennessee, her father, Floyd, was a crop workers' supervisor, and her mother Zelma, a housewife. It wasn't a happy home: Zelma hadn't wanted a second child after having their first daughter Alline, so Turner, born two years later, became the focus of her unhappiness. 'My mother didn't love me; it was as simple as that. Even as a little girl, I knew she didn't love me,' Turner later said. 'When I was born she felt trapped into staying with my father.'
By 16, Turner was living in St Louis, Illinois, with relatives. One Saturday night, Alline sneaked her underage sister into a club to see Ike Turner play with his band, Kings of Rhythm. Ike, a major recording star locally, made an impression on Turner, although not in the way he hoped. 'His music charged me [but) I was never attracted to him,' she said. Turner began going to watch Ike's band play and aspired to a musical career herself, but her own dreams were set back significantly when at 18, she fell pregnant while dating Ike's bandmate Raymond Hill. Their partnership was short-lived and following the birth of their son Craig in 1958, they split, making Turner even more determined to make it. Her big chance came when, during one performance, the band's drummer passed Turner the mic and told her to sing. 'Ike said, "Girl, I didn't know you could sing!" I was so happy,' she later recalled of her stage debut. 'That's when I learned I was truly talented. Before I met Ike, I was singing at church and at picnics.'
Initially, Turner's relationship with Ike was platonic, she told her close friend Oprah Winfrey in a 2005 interview. 'We were close, like brother and sister. We had so much fun,' she said. 'On his nights off, we'd drive around town and he would tell me about his life, his dreams.' But Ike soon laid sexual claim to Turner - against her wishes. 'I didn't like it, but I didn't know what to do or say,' she said. 'In those days, everybody did what Ike said. He had the power.' The pair recorded their first hit, A Fool In Love, in 1960, when Turner was 21, and the band was renamed The Ike & Tina Turner Revue (Ike chose Tina because it sounded like Sheena, the Qµeen of the Jungle cartoon character popular at the time). Despite her misgivings about the partnership, she continued the relationship and their son, Ronnie, was born that same year. They married two years later in Mexico.
Turner knew Ike was volatile - she'd seen him beat other girlfriends - but it wasn't until she tried to leave the band over a financial dispute that he attacked her for the first time. Afterwards, he made her have sex - a pattern he would repeat throughout their marriage.
'I'd know when a beating was coming,' she said in her 1986 bestselling memoir I, Tina. 'He'd walk around biting his lip and working himself up. Later he'd hit me in the ribs and then always try to give me a black eye. He wanted his abuse to be seen.'
Musically, however, the pair could do no wrong. Their electrifying stage performances were compared to James Brown's and, in 1961, they won a Grammy nomination for their second single, It's Gonna Work Out Fine. It was because Ike had made her a star that Turner felt obliged to stay. 'I felt loyal to him,' she admitted. But those around her could see the influence of Ike on his wife. In 1966, producer Phil Spector paid Ike $20,000 to stay away from the studio so Turner could record River Deep, Mountain High. The track gave her a taste of what she could achieve as a solo artist when it reached number three in the UK charts. Off the back of it, she and Ike were booked to open for The Rolling Stones during a stadium tour of the US.
In 1968, when it seemed she was on the cusp of greatness and just prior to the tour, Tina hit rock bottom. Ike was addicted to crack cocaine and his beatings became merciless. Turner tried to overdose on Valium, but was found and rushed to hospital. Again, she stayed with Ike, too bowed by fear to make her escape.
In 1971, they won a Grammy for their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Proud Mary, then followed it up two years later with the even more successful Nutbush City Limits. In 1974, Turner made her acclaimed film debut as The Acid Queen in rock musical Tommy. The solo foray away from Ike convinced her she should leave him. She'd also been introduced to Buddhism and was finding both solace and strength in daily chanting. But it wasn't until 1976, after Ike beat her up in the back of a limo in Texas on the way to a gig, that Turner finally found the courage to walk out. Leaving their children in the safe care of her housekeeper, she fled across a freeway with only 36 cents in her pocket. Friends helped her return to LA, where she filed for divorce and fought for custody of their sons. 'For anyone who's in an abusive relationship, I say this: go. Nothing can be worse than where you are now. You have to take care of yourself first - and then you take care of your children,' she said.
Unfortunately, leaving Ike didn't immediately signal a brilliant new phase in her life. She spent eight years struggling to make ends meet, forced to sing in cheesy lounge clubs or appear on quiz shows such as Hollywood Squares to pay off her debts. Ultimately, it was her famous friends who saved her. In 1979, Olivia Newton-John invited her to appear on a TV special with her, after which Turner was introduced to Newton-John's boyfriend and manager Lee Kramer. He put her in touch with his business partner Roger Davies - the man who would reignite her career. As Turner began touring again, Rod Stewart had her perform with him on Saturday Night Live, while Mick Jagger invited her to duet Honky Tonky Woman with him on another Stones tour. Jagger once credited her with teaching him how to move on stage, saying: 'I learned a lot of things from Tina.'
Then, in December 1982, EMI/Capitol threw a party in New York to launch David Bowie's Let's Dance album. Midway through, Bowie announced he was off to watch his favourite female singer perform at The Ritz - Tina Turner. Suddenly, Davies received a request to add 63 names to the guest list, all EMI/Capitol executives, and that night Turner landed a new record contract. In 1984, her album Private Dancer became a worldwide hit. Turner was then 45 years old and having the comeback of her life. Her subsequent albums, Break Every Rule and Foreign Affair, were also chart-toppers, the latter including the anthemic hit The Best. She toured extensively on the back of their successes and became known again for her high-energy performances, rocking out in minidresses that showed off her enviable legs. Oprah Winfrey believed every performance was symbolic. 'Each electrifying swing of her miniskirt, every slide of her three-inch Manolos across the stage, sends a message: "I am here. I have triumphed. I will not be broken,'" she said.
In 1985, Turner earned rave reviews when she starred opposite Mel Gibson in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. As her career continued to soar, she was introduced to German music executive Erwin Bach at a party that same year. He was 16 years her junior and they were friends for a year before they began dating. While the details of her marriage to Ike were widely known thanks to her memoir I, Tina, the 1993 release of a film based on her life brought them into sharp focus again. What's Love Got To Do With It, starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, was a critical and box-office success and earned Oscar nominations for both leads, keeping Turner in the headlines. Ike reacted badly to the film, saying, 'They assassinated my career with that damn movie', but the star, who died in 2007, did admit the abuse it portrayed was true, although even then he tried to downplay it. 'Yeah, I hit her, but I didn't hit her more than the average guy beats his wife,' he told Spin magazine.
In 1999, at the age of 60 and at the most successful point in her career, Turner surprised everyone by announcing that her tour that year was to be her last and she was retiring. 'She wants to go out on top, while she is at her best. She doesn't want to become a faded caricature of herself,' said her friend and long-time publicist Bernard Doherty at the time. Since then, Turner has lived a life of blissful peace and quiet in Zurich, Switzerland, with Bach, who she married in July 2013 where long-time friend Bowie serenaded them at the ceremony. Despite her retirement, she hasn't been able to completely resist the lure of the stage. She caused a sensation when she popped up at the 2008 Grammys to perform the most incredible version of Proud Mary with Beyonce. 'When the person you admire the most likes you enough to perform with you it's amazing,' said a starstruck Beyonce afterwards. 'I have to watch it in order to digest it because I can't believe that just happened.'
After being thrust into the spotlight once more with the release of Tina: The Musical, Turner has no qualms about the brutal side of her life being depicted on stage because she's made her peace with it. 'People think my life has been tough but I think it's been a wonderful journey,' she said. 'The older you get, the more you realise not what happens, it's how you deal with it.'2023-05-25T19:08:11Z dg43tfdfdgfd