After the news broke that the soul and rock powerhouse, Tina Turner, passed away peacefully on May 24, 2023, fans quickly remembered her life and career. Turner was known widely for her eccentric stage presence, powerful vocals and for changing the rock ‘n’ roll game. From growing into fame with her then-husband Ike Turner to blossoming in her solo career, her story is one that will be remembered.
Born as Anna Mae Bullock in Tennessee, the singer has come so far, especially from living with poor living standards. She later relocated to St. Louis in her teen years and began singing in her church’s choir. During her time in St. Louis, she frequently visited Club Manhattan where she met Ike Turner and his band, the Kings of Rhythm. It was then that she began singing alongside the band while still attending high school. She later married Ike and renamed their ensemble the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
Popularity quickly rose for the group, especially with Tina at the forefront of the group as her versatile voice and energetic dancing were spellbinding. The group produced plenty of famous tracks such as “A Fool in Love,” “Proud Mary” and “River Deep – Mountain High.” Additionally, the group was known for their unstoppable power and fun live performances influenced by the genres of jazz, rock and soul.
Despite the success of the group, there were tumultuous times behind the scenes. Ike was a very demanding and complex perfectionist, wanting many things out of Tina that pushed her past her breaking point. Tina would later reveal in an interview with People magazine that Ike was mentally and physically abusive toward her, pushing her to attempt suicide several times. The couple was married for 16 years until Tina decided she had enough, and left him with barely enough money to survive on her own. Through the divorce, Tina allowed Ike to take everything from the cash to ownership of the Ike and Tina Revue songs, except for her name. She got control of her name “Tina Turner” and was now free to do what she wanted with her name, life and career.
At the start of her solo career, Tina struggled to break through with big hits. She first started out performing residency shows in Las Vegas and snagging TV slots, desperate to make any sort of income. However, Tina was able to burst back into the music industry when her first solo album “Private Dancer” was released. This gained Tina plenty of success and popularity as it gained her four Grammy awards and sold millions of copies worldwide. From this album, one of her most popular anthems “What’s Love Got to Do With It” was released and reached number one on the U.S. charts. During this time, Tina was making a name for herself with her energetic performances, powerful voice and signature look. Gone was the look from her Ike and Tina Revue days, as she became known for performing in dazzling short dresses and skirts alongside her iconic spiky, punk mullet.
Following her massive success, Tina was filling stadiums and becoming a well-known name in the rock ‘n’ roll community. Although she was changing the game and making a name for herself, she still would get asked questions about her traumatic past marriage to Ike. It was then she decided to publish her autobiography “I, Tina” alongside the help of Kurt Loder. Following the autobiography, it was later adapted into a film, “What’s Love Got to Do with It” with Angela Bassett playing Tina. These two pieces of work were done in an attempt to silence the never-ending questions about her past, as well as be able to tell her own story through her words. Between this time, Tina also released her second solo album, “Break Every Rule” which also gained success with one of her hits, “Typical Male” hitting number two on the U.S. charts.
In 1991, Tina was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside Ike who was unable to attend due to serving time for drug possession. In 2008 and 2009, Tina had her final tour called “Tina! 50th Anniversary Tour” and announced she would be retiring from the music industry. Despite the famed entertainer’s retirement, she had made a significant impact on the rock and roll scene, becoming a name that was widely known.
In 2013, Tina announced her engagement to the German record executive and her longtime partner, Erwin Bach. They then got married that July in Switzerland where the singer later resided for the rest of her life. With Bach, she was finally able to feel happiness with a partner that also loves her. Tina’s retirement did not last long, however, since in 2018 she released her second memoir, “My Love Story.” She and her husband also produced a Broadway musical based on her life called “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.” In 2021, an HBO special biographical documentary “Tina” told her story through old and new interviews, as well as old footage.
On May 24, 2023, a representative announced that the singer had died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Switzerland at age 83. Tina had been dealing with serious health issues starting in her 70s when she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Besides dealing with cancer in the 2010s, she had a stroke and a kidney transplant with her husband as the donor.
Despite all the hardships Tina dealt with in her life and career, she was still able to accomplish many things. Tina not only changed the rock and roll game but also was a major influence on famous artists such as Beyonce and Mick Jagger. She also was one of the first celebrities to speak out against domestic abuse. This opened the door for women to speak out as she became a symbol of courage for them. Tina Turner was an icon whose legacy will live on and be remembered for many years.