The legendary Tina Turner has died.
She was 83.
In a statement announcing her death, Tina’s spokesperson said:
“Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock’n Roll’ has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”
“There will be a private funeral ceremony attended by close friends and family. Please respect the privacy of her family at this difficult time.”
via The Guardian:
She had suffered ill health in recent years, being diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and having a kidney transplant in 2017.
Turner affirmed and amplified Black women’s formative stake in rock’n’roll, defining that era of music to the extent that Mick Jagger admitted to taking inspiration from her high-kicking, energetic live performances for his stage persona. After two decades of working with her abusive husband, Ike Turner, she struck out alone and – after a few false starts – became one of the defining pop icons of the 1980s with the album Private Dancer. Her life was chronicled in three memoirs, a biopic, a jukebox musical, and in 2021, the acclaimed documentary film, Tina.
“Turner’s musical character has always been a charged combination of mystery as well as light, melancholy mixed with a ferocious vitality that often flirted with danger,” scholar Daphne A Brooks wrote for the Guardian in 2018.
Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on 26 November 1939 and raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, where she recalled picking cotton with her family as a child. She sang in the tiny town’s church choir, and as a teenager talked – or rather, sang – her way into Ike’s band in St Louis: he had declined her request to join until he heard her seize the microphone during a Kings of Rhythm performance for a rendition of BB King’s You Know I Love You.
After her vocal talents became apparent, Ike gave her the name Tina Turner – and trademarked it in case she left him and he wanted to replace her in his act. He quickly became abusive: when Turner tried to leave the group early on after having got a sense of his mercurial character, he hit her with a wooden shoe stretcher.
“My relationship with Ike was doomed the day he figured out I was going to be his moneymaker,” Turner wrote in her 2018 biography My Love Story. “He needed to control me, economically and psychologically, so I could never leave him.”
She made her recorded debut under the name with the Ike and Tina Turner single A Fool in Love in July 1960, which broke the US Top 30 and started a run of respectable chart success. But it was their live performances that made them a sensation. Ike toured the Ike and Tina Turner Revue aggressively on the Chitlin’ Circuit – including in front of desegregated audiences, such was their commercial power. In 1964, they signed to Warner Bros imprint Loma Records, which released their first album to chart: Live! The Ike & Tina Turner Show.
In the second half of the 60s, the duo were courted by many of rock’s biggest names. Phil Spector produced the 1966 single River Deep – Mountain High; they supported the Rolling Stones in the UK and later the US, and stars including David Bowie, Sly Stone, Cher, Elvis Presley and Elton John came to their Las Vegas residency.
They were a chart-making, Grammy-winning force in the 1970s – a run that came to an end when Turner left Ike, who had been consistently violent and unfaithful, in 1976. Her last single with the group was Baby, Get It On, from the 1975 film adaptation of the Who’s rock opera Tommy, in which she starred as Acid Queen, a character of the same name of her second solo album.
In the divorce, finalised in 1978, Turner came away with just two cars and the rights to her stage name. “Ike fought a little bit because he knew what I would do with it,” she said in the documentary Tina.
RIP to a legend.