Rock music has lost its queen. Tina Turner, the iconic chanteuse with the husky voice and unforgettable legs, died May 24, 2023 at her home on Lake Zurich in Switzerland, according to TMZ. She was 83.
Born November 26, 1939 in Brownsville, Tennessee, the former Anna Mae Bullock was the youngest child of Floyd and Zelma Bullock. The family resided in nearby Nutbush, Tennessee, which would later inspire the popular Ike & Tina Turner funk hit “Nutbush City Limits”.
Turner shot to fame during the turbulent 1960’s and 1970’s as lead vocalist for the Ike & Tina Revue. The group boasted such timeless hits as “River Deep – Mountain High” and “Proud Mary”.
She originally began touring with Ike’s Kings of Rhythm in the late 1950’s. She married the volatile R&B legend in 1962, and eventually adopted his two young sons, Ike, Jr. and Michael, raising them as her own. She had son Raymond Craig from a previous relationship with Kings of Rhythm sax player Raymond Hill. Ike later adopted the child, rechristening him Craig Raymond Turner. The Turners had one biological child together, son Ronald Turner.
Tina Turner allegedly fled her abusive marriage with only 36 cents in her pockets. She ultimately won the legal right to continue using the stage name Tina Turner, which Ike hotly contested. The couple officially divorced in 1978.
Turner found crossover success as a solo artist with the debut of 1984’s Private Dancer. The music video for the album’s titular single found Turner portraying a taxi driver who may or may not have been a disgruntled sex worker. Both the music videos for “Private Dancer” and pulsating torch song “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” received tons of play on a then upstart MTV, helping Turner reach a new generation of loyal fans.
She followed up Private Dancer’s release with a scene-stealing turn as Aunt Entity opposite Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Turner recorded two songs for the movie’s soundtrack, “One of the Living” and the smash hit, “We Don’t Need Another Hero”.
The Queen of Rock and Roll documented her rags to riches origin story, her Buddhist practice, and her tumultuous first marriage, in her 1986 memoir I, Tina: My Life Story. The tome was adapted for the big screen via 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It?. Angela Bassett starred as Tina with Laurence Fishburne playing Ike.
Turner would go on to release four additional albums, star in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Action Hero, release three more autobiographies, and embark on multiple world tours before retiring to her beloved Switzerland. She was also the subject of the 2021 documentary, Tina.
She managed to find love again with former music executive Erwin Bach. The pair were together for 27 years before getting married in 2013. During the last decade of her life, Turner was candid about her health struggles, revealing she’d suffered a stroke and kidney disease due to uncontrolled blood pressure. She was also diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Turner’s sons Craig and Ronnie preceded her in death.