12 time Grammy Award winner and the Queen of Rock and Roll, Tina Turner has passed away at age 83. She died on Tuesday in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, after a long illness, according to her manager.
The news of her passing was announced on her official Twitter account on Wednesday:
Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee. Turner began singing in church at a very young age. When she was around 11 years old, Turner’s mother abandoned her to escape her abusive marriage and Turner was sent to live with her maternal grandmother, Georgeanna Currie, in Brownsville, Tennessee with her two older sisters. After her grandmother passed away, she moved in with her mother in St. Louis where she graduated high school in 1958.
As early as 1957, Turner was frequenting nightclubs with her sister in St. Louis and East St. Louis, which is where she first saw Ike Turner performing with his band the Kings of Rhythm. One night in 1957, she got hold of the microphone from Kings of Rhythm drummer Eugene Washington during an intermission and she sang the B.B. King blues ballad, You Know I Love You. Ike Turner was impressed and made her a featured vocalist of his band.
As Turner honed her skill, her first recording was in 1958 under the name Little Ann on the single Boxtop. She is credited as a vocalist on the record alongside Ike and fellow Kings of Rhythm singer Carlson Oliver.
In 1960, Ike Turner wrote A Fool in Love for singer Art Lassiter. When Lassiter failed to show up to record the demo record, Tina Turner suggested that she sing the song. A local radio DJ was so impressed with the song that he convinced Ike Turner to send the demo record to Juggy Murray, president of the R&B label Sue Records. It was at this point that Ike Turner named Anna Mae Bullock Tina Turner without her knowledge or consent, and trademarked the name so he could essentially own her and her music.
Anna Mae Bullock was then introduced to the public as Tina Turner with the single A Fool in Love in July 1960 which reached No. 2 on the Hot R&B Sides chart and No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1962 After releasing their debut album in 1961 and enjoying a string of successful hits, Ike and Tina Turner married in Tijuana, Mexico, before moving to Los Angeles. Riding on the success of the single, Ike Turner created the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, which included the Kings of Rhythm and a girl group, the Ikettes, as backing vocalists and dancers. Between 1963 and 1965, the band toured constantly and produced moderately successful R&B singles.
From 1966–1975 Ike and Tina Turner skyrocketed into mainstream success, recording records, touring, and appearing on TV. By the mid ’70s Ike Turner had a pretty hefty drug habit and it was the height of his abuse towards Tina Turner. On July 1, 1976, Ike was especially brutally physically abusive to Tina and she fled with only 36 cents and a Mobil gas card. She filed for divorce by the end of the month on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
It was through her divorce that she was able to retain the use of her name, Tina Turner as well as songwriter royalties from songs she had written, unfortunately, she also took responsibility for missed concerts and an IRS lien. For almost two years, she received food stamps and played small clubs to pay off the debts
Even after their separation, United Artists released two more studio albums credited to the duo: Delilah’s Power in 1977 and Airwaves in 1978.
Tina Turner kept working, releasing 3 solo albums and appearing on TV shows from 1977-1979. In 1981, Rod Stewart invited her to perform Hot Legs with him on Saturday Night Live and in November, Turner opened for the Rolling Stones during their 1981 American Tour.
It wasn’t until 1983 that Tina Turner made her “comeback,” signing with Capitol Records and releasing a cover of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, which put Turner back onto the billboard top 100. From there, Turner recorded her immensely popular record Private Dancer, which was her 5th solo album and first with Capitol Records. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 in the United Kingdom. Private Dancer was certified 5× Platinum in the United States, and sold 10 million copies worldwide, becoming her most successful album.
In 1984, Turner achieved her first and only No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with What’s Love Got to Do with It, the second single released from the Private Dancer album. Turner culminated her comeback when she won three Grammys at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.
In 1986, Turner won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her performance as Aunty Entity in the cult classic Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
In July 2013, Turner married German music executive Erwin Bach in a civil ceremony on the banks of Lake Zurich in Küsnacht, Switzerland. The two had met in 1986 where they started out as friends, but carried on a 27-year love affair before finally tying the knot. In 2013 she became a citizen of Switzerland and renounced her US citizenship. She had already been living outside of America since 1994.
For years Turner continued writing and releasing albums ultimately selling her music rights to BMG Rights Management for an estimated $50 million, with Warner Music still handling distribution of her music in 2021. In the same year Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist, accepting her award via satellite from her home in Switzerland.
In addition to her appearances in TV and film, Turner has written 4 books which are titled I, Tina: My Life Story, My Love Story: A Memoir, Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good, and Tina Turner: That’s My Life. The 1993 Academy Award-nominated bio-pic What’s Love Got to Do with It was based on the book I, Tina: My Life Story.
As news of her passing spread, many took to social media to pay their respects:
Turner is survived by her second husband, German music executive Erwin Bach