Off The Record
Tina Turner: Legendary Rock’n’Roll Singer Dies Aged 83 After A Long Battle
After rising to prominence in a tumultuous musical partnership, Turner went on to become a global superstar as a solo performer and a pivotal figure in 1980s pop music.
After a long battle with sickness, legendary rock and roll singer Tina Turner passed away at the age of 83.
Her health has declined in recent years; in 2016, she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer, and the following year, she underwent a kidney transplant.
Turner validated and accentuated the role of Black women in the development of rock ‘n’ roll, helping to define the genre to the extent that Mick Jagger acknowledged drawing influence from Turner’s high-kicking, kinetic live performances for his own.
She broke out on her own after 20 years of working with her abusive husband Ike Turner, and with the album Private Dancer, she became one of the most influential pop singers of the 1980s.
Three autobiographies, a biopic, a jukebox musical, and the critically acclaimed documentary Tina will all record her life.
A spokesman released the following statement on Wednesday night: “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.”
“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.
Originally from Nutbush, Tennessee, Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939. She recalls growing cotton with her family as a child.
She sang in the church choir of her little town, and when she was a teenager, she used her voice to talk (or rather, sing) her way into Ike’s band in St. Louis.
He had originally turned her down when she asked to join the band, but he changed his mind after hearing her take the microphone during a Kings of Rhythm performance of “You Know I Love You” by BB King.
When her singing abilities began to shine through, Ike gave her the stage name Tina Turner and copyrighted it in case she ever left him.
After Turner got a feel of his unstable personality and tried to leave the group early on, he became aggressive and struck 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.”
In July 1960, she made her recording debut under the moniker with the Ike and Tina Turner single A Fool in Love, which became a moderate hit in the United States.
Their live shows, however, are what really made them famous.
Given their commercial power, Ike toured the Ike and Tina Turner Revue extensively on the Chitlin’ Circuit, performing even in front of desegregated audiences.
Live! The Ike & Tina Turner Show, their first charting album, was released in 1964 after they signed with Warner Bros.’ Loma Records brand.
Many of the biggest names in rock music approached the pair in the second half of the 1960s.
They toured with the Rolling Stones in the United Kingdom and the United States, released a song with Phil Spector in 1966 titled “River Deep – Mountain High,” and had guests including David Bowie, Sly Stone, Cher, Elvis Presley, and Elton John at their Las Vegas residency.
They were a Grammy-winning, top-charting duo in the ’70s, but their success ended when Turner left Ike, who was violent and unfaithful throughout their marriage.
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Baby, Get It On was her final song with the Who, and it was featured in the 1975 film adaptation of the Who’s rock opera Tommy, in which she portrayed the role Acid Queen (her second solo album’s title).
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.
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