After a protracted illness, Tina Turner passed away today at her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, not far from Zurich. She was hailed as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” for her explosive performances and intensely gritty vocals. She was 83 years old.
“With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model,” her U.K. spokesperson, Bernard Doherty, said in a statement.
Turner got a kidney transplant in 2017 after receiving a diagnosis of intestinal cancer in 2016.
Who is Tina Turner?
Turner, who was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Nutbush, Tennessee, rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the late 1960s. She staged one of the greatest comebacks in pop music history after divorcing husband Ike Turner after years of verbal and physical abuse, scoring huge hits in the 1980s like “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” “Private Dancer,” and “The Best,” with an estimated 180 million albums sold worldwide, 12 Grammy Awards won, and sold-out stadium tours across the globe.
Both the 2019 Broadway musical Tina – The Tina Turner Musical and the 1993 blockbuster movie What’s Love Got to Do with It, for which Angela Bassett received a Best Actress Oscar nomination, tell the tale of her life.
Turner began her professional career in 1957 as a member of Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm. In 1960, she made her solo debut as Tina Turner with their duet “A Fool in Love.” This was the start of a run of songs for the performer, including “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” “River Deep – Mountain High,” “Nutbush City Limits,” and, most importantly, “Proud Mary,” even though they didn’t always do well on the charts.
When Tina split with Ike in 1976 for reasons she would later explain in books and interviews, the Revue was over. She rose to prominence as an early survivor of domestic violence, raising awareness of the issue.
Until the astonishing success of her fifth solo album Private Dancer, which was released in the US in May 1984, months after its lead song “Let’s Stay Together” reached the UK Top 10 and peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100, the singer would struggle and be on the verge of oblivion following her breakup with Ike.
Turner’s biggest hit of her career came with the album’s second American single. Her passionate performance was included on “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” which lasted three weeks at No. 1 in the United States (and peaked at No. 3 in the UK). Turner would win a Grammy for Female Pop Vocal as well as awards for Record and Song of the Year.
The songs “Better Be Good to Me” and “Private Dancer,” written by Mark Knopfler and featuring Jeff Beck on guitar, were her next two Top 10 American singles.
The Private Dancer album was also a hit; it spent 11 weeks at No. 3 while Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and Purple Rain by Prince dominated the charts. Due to sales of more than 5 million units, the disc has received five times platinum certification in the US.
“We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome),” from the Mel Gibson and George Miller threequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, would become another blockbuster hit for Turner in 1985. In the film, she portrayed the brutal ruler of Bartertown and said the immortal words, “Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome!” “One of the Living,” another song on the album, peaked at No. 15.
Later that year, she made a comeback to the Top 20 with “It’s Only Love,” a duet from Bryan Adams’ Reckless album, and she also contributed to the worldwide hit “We Are the World.” Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, produced by Quincy Jones, and credited to USA for Africa, that 1985 famine-relief record topped charts all over the world and has sold more than 20 million copies.
Break Every Rule, Turner’s second album, was released in September 1986 and produced “Typical Male,” another top-charting single and music video. The LP was certified platinum, and it spent three weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100.
Turner would see mixed chart success over the following few years, with “The Best” and “What You Get Is What You See” both reaching the Top 15. “The Best” also featured an Edgar Winter sax solo. “The Best,” which peaked in the Top 10 of more than a dozen nations including the UK, was a larger hit abroad.
But in 1993, she scored another huge hit in the United States with “I Don’t Wanna Fight,” a song that was featured on the What’s Love Got to Do with It album. Although the 2005 compilation All the Best sold over a million copies and peaked at No. 2 in the U.S., it would turn out to be the last of her four platinum studio albums.
Other solo albums include Twenty Four Seven (2000) and Wildest Dreams (1996).
Turner’s prominence as a musical trailblazer extended to television in the 1980s when she established herself as a mainstay of MTV, a remarkable accomplishment at a time when the music video channel was predominately the realm of white musicians.
Although she was initially recognized as a soul and R&B singer, Tina Turner had long been a fan of rock music. She sang at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and two years later, while Ike & Tina Turner were opening for the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden, she welcomed Janis Joplin to the stage. Turner was not just Joplin’s favorite singer, but also “the best chick ever,” she said in a 1969 interview on The Dick Cavett Show.
Joplin explained to Cavett, who was unfamiliar with Turner, that “Ike is her husband and bandleader, and Tina is the show.”
She collaborated with David Bowie and Mick Jagger, appearing with the latter on his 1984 album Tonight and summoning him onstage for a fiery and iconic duet during one of her shows on the Private Dancer tour in 1985.
With her outrageous one-scene performance as the Acid Queen in filmmaker Ken Russell’s Tommy, Turner’s musical comeback would also resurrect her film career, which had begun in 1975. The Who’s Roger Daltrey played the “deaf, dumb, and blind” pinball prodigy in this film adaptation of their seminal 1969 rock opera, which also starred Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Jack Nicholson, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and Keith Moon.
When she portrayed that role, her 1975 album Acid Queen was published, and it only had little chart success.
She starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Last Action Hero (1993), as well as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
Based on her 1986 autobiography I, Tina: My Life Story, the 1993 biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It stars Oscar-nominated actors Angela Bassett as Tina and Laurence Fishburne as Ike. The movie was a huge box office hit, grossing more than $60 million worldwide.
Turner, a two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame entrant who consistently makes lists of the Greatest Performers, received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2005. After her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour, which is still one of the most successful tours of the 2000s, she retired in 2009. However, she returned to the public eye with the 2018 West End smash hit Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, starring Adrienne Warren in a career-defining performance. Warren returned to the production when it moved to Broadway in 2019, but it was put on hold the next year due to the Covid shutdown. Tina’s performances resumed in 2021 and continued through the following year.
Family, close friends, and family are anticipated to attend a private funeral service.
Further press inquiries won’t be responded, according to her spokesperson.