TINA TURNER,
1939-2023

Tina Turner, the fiery singer who set the gold standard for R&B acts interpreting rock & roll in the 1960s with her husband Ike and had an extraordinary comeback in the 1980s, died on 5/24 at her home in Switzerland. She was 83.

Turner's health had been declining for several years. She'd had a stroke and suffered from kidney disease, among other illnesses.

“Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock & Roll’ has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland,” her family said in a statement. “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

John Fogerty, Mariah Carey, Mick Jagger and Nicki Minaj are among the many artists who've posted tributes on social media.

Jagger wrote on Facebook, "She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young, and I will never forget her."

Born Anna Mae Bullock in Brownsville, Tennessee, Turner enjoyed a career that stretched half a century, from performing as a teenager in the late 1950s until she announced her retirement in 2009 following an international tour. Along the way, she developed a reputation as one of pop music’s most energetic live performers, a master of reinventing rock and R&B songs by acts like The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & The Family Stone and The Beatles, and, after an extended fallow period, had a full second career, with million-selling records and major tours.

Her story, told in a memoir, a scripted film, a documentary and a stage show, established her as a resilient survivor of abuse, capable of succeeding in life regardless of its obstacles. Over the course of her career, she sold more than 180m records and earned 12 Grammy Awards.

Warner Music Group CEO Max Lousada said in a statement: "All of us at Warner Music are deeply saddened by the passing of the one and only Tina Turner. A global icon and trailblazer, instantly recognizable by her incredible voice and inimitable style, she was one of the greatest stars of all time. Even after the countless awards, the 180m in album sales, the record-breaking tours and the unforgettable acting roles, Tina will be remembered most through the sheer joy of her music. So powerful is her extraordinary, universal appeal that there is no doubt she will continue to influence generations to come. She stands as the epitome of artistic self-empowerment. We offer our heartfelt condolences to her husband, Erwin Bach, her family, her friends and countless fans around the world.”

Ike Turner initially hired Bullock as a backup singer, giving her the name "Little Ann." Seeing her potential as the frontwoman of the act, he rechristened her “Tina” and they scored an immediate R&B hit with 1960's “A Fool in Love.” The Ike and Tina Turner Revue quickly became one of the biggest touring soul acts in Black venues in the U.S. as it hit the R&B Top 10 with such records as “Poor Fool” and “Tra La La La La.”

In 1966 Ike and Tina had two significant shots at crossover success; in May of that year, they release the Phil Spector-produced “River Deep–Mountain High” and, in the fall, began opening shows for The Rolling Stones on their British tour. Remarkably, “River Deep," which Spector called his masterpiece and which has since become a stone classic, flopped in the U.S. It nonetheless hit #3 in the U.K. and did well across Europe. Notably, Ike did not appear on the recording.

Ike and Tina opened shows for The Stones in the U.S. in November 1969, two months before an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show brought the Turners their largest audience to date. Following that booking, they posted a string of Top 30 R&B singles—“Bold Soul Sister,” “Come Together” and “I Want To Take You Higher”—which led to a headlining slot at the Newport Jazz Festival and their first tour of Asia.

In late 1970 Ike & Tina Turner recorded their version of Credence Clearwater Revival's “Proud Mary.” It went to #4 on the pop chart in early 1971, wining them a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group.

Ike & Tina had their last significant hit with a song Tina wrote, “Nutbush City Limits,” in 1973. It peaked at #22 on the U.S. pop chart and hit the Top 5 in several European countries. They followed it up with a gospel album, after which Tina released two solo albums, 1974's Tina Turns the Country On! and 1975's Acid Queen, a nod to her celebrated role in the film version of The Who’s Tommy.

Behind the scenes, Tina's marriage to Ike was falling apart, and after a violent altercation in 1976, she left him and filed for divorce. Penniless, she hid from him for a period before agreeing to onerous financial terms that saddled her with significant debt.

As a solo artist, Tina attempted to remake her image as a cabaret act, which went nowhere. Roger Davies, who was managing Olivia Newton-John, started managing her in 1979, and with the encouragement of David Bowie, Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones and others, she returned to the hard-rocking style that had made her a star.

In 1982, Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh tapped her to sing The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” for their side project British Electric Foundation. That led to a second recording, a remake of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together," which became a surprise hit.

It was A&R exec John Carter who brought Turner to Capitol Records, helping her dive into a variety of genres—rock, pop, smooth jazz—that would form the basis of her breakthrough solo success, 1984's Private Dancer. The album was a near instant hit across the globe, sitting in the U.S. Top 10 for 39 weeks on its way to being certified quintuple platinum. It would be rewarded with four Grammy wins, including Record of the Year for "What's Love Got to Do with It."

Turner, who'd been playing small clubs and hotel ballrooms prior to the album’s release, went on a 177-date tour that occupied much of 1985.

She appeared in that year's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome alongside Mel Gibson and recorded two songs for the soundtrack, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and “One of the Living," both of which became hits.

Follow-up album Break Every Rule (1986) landed at #1. Its release came on the heels of the publication of I, Tina, the autobiography that would become a global bestseller. In 1993 it was adapted into a film, What’s Love Got to Do With It, that triumphed commercially and critically.

Turner’s final album for Capitol, Foreign Affair, was released in 1989. It was home to “The Best,” which, despite not being a significant hit when released, became one of her best-known songs.

Her recording output slowed in the 1990s after she moved to Virgin, yielding a James Bond theme (“GoldenEye”) with 1996's Wildest Dreams and her final album, Twenty Four Seven, in 1999.

2000's Twenty Four Seven tour sold more than $100m in tickets, which Guinness World Records certified at the time as the most sold by a solo performer.

Turner’s final tour started in 2008 following a performance with Beyoncé at the Grammy Awards.

She and her husband were executive producers of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, a stage show based on her life that opened in London in 2018 and on Broadway in 2019. The documentary, Tina, was released in 2021.

A two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Turner was inducted with Ike in 1991 and as a solo artist in 2021. She received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005 and a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2018.

Pictured at Z100 (l-r) are Steve Kingston, Turner and Phil Quartararo. Seen at the HITS office with Turner are Karen Glauber, Todd Hensley and other assorted staff. Photo of Turner onstage courtesy of Missouri Historical Society/Missouri History Museum

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