Tina Turner | Legendary Rock’n’Roll Singer | Obituary

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Obituary – Tina Turner – legendary rock’n’roll singer

Tina Turner – one of rock’s great vocalists and most charismatic performers – has died aged 83.

The US-born star was one of rock’s iconic singers, known for her electric stage presence and hits including The Best, Proud Mary, Private Dancer and What’s Love Got to Do With It.

  • Died: May 24th, 2023
  • Details of death: died at her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, aged 83, following a long illness.

Early Life

Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee, the youngest daughter of Floyd Richard Bullock and his wife Zelma Priscilla (née Currie). The family lived in the nearby rural unincorporated community of Nutbush, Tennessee, where her father worked as an overseer of the sharecroppers at Poindexter Farm on Highway 180; she later recalled picking cotton with her family at an early age.

As a young girl, Bullock sang in the church choir at Nutbush’s Spring Hill Baptist Church. When she was 11, her mother Zelma ran off without warning, seeking freedom from her abusive relationship with Floyd by relocating to St. Louis in 1950. Two years after her mother left the family, her father married another woman and moved to Detroit in 1952. Bullock and her sisters were sent to live with their maternal grandmother, Georgeanna Currie, in Brownsville, Tennessee. She stated in her autobiography I, Tina that her parents had not loved her and she wasn’t wanted. Zelma had planned to leave Floyd but stayed once she became pregnant. “She was a very young woman who didn’t want another kid,” Turner recalled.

As a teenager, Bullock worked as a domestic worker for the Henderson family. She was at the Henderson house when she was notified that her half-sister Evelyn had died in a car crash alongside her cousins Margaret and Vela Evans. A self-professed tomboy, Bullock joined both the cheerleading squad and the female basketball team at Carver High School in Brownsville, and “socialized every chance she got”. When Bullock was 16, her grandmother died, so she went to live with her mother in St. Louis. She graduated from Sumner High School in 1958. After her graduation, Bullock worked as a nurse’s aide at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Ike and Tina Turner

Mainstream success: 1966–1975

Impressed by the duo’s performance on The Big T.N.T. Show, Phil Spector was eager to produce Turner. Working out a deal with Ike & Tina Turner’s manager Bob Krasnow, who was also head of Loma, Spector offered $20,000 for creative control over the sessions to produce Turner and have them released from their contract with Loma. They signed to Spector’s Philles label in April 1966 after Turner had already recorded with him. Their first single on his label, “River Deep – Mountain High”, was released in May 1966. Spector considered that record, with Turner’s maximum energy over the “Wall of Sound”, to be his best work. It was successful overseas, reaching No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 1 on Los 40 Principales in Spain, but it failed to go any higher than No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100. The impact of the record gave Ike & Tina Turner an opening spot on the Rolling Stones UK tour in the fall of 1966. In November 1967, Turner became the first female artist and the first black artist to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

The duo signed with Blue Thumb Records in 1968, releasing the album Outta Season in 1969. The album produced their charted cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”. Later that year they released The Hunter. The title track, Albert King’s “The Hunter”, earned Turner a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.The success of the albums led to the revue headlining in Las Vegas where their shows were attended by a variety of celebrities including David Bowie, Sly Stone, Janis Joplin, Cher, James Brown, Ray Charles, Elton John and Elvis Presley.]

In the fall of 1969, Ike & Tina Turner’s profile in their home country was raised after opening for the Rolling Stones on their US tour. They gained more exposure from performances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Playboy After Dark, and The Andy Williams Show. The duo released two albums in 1970, Come Together and Workin’ Together. Their cover of “I Want to Take You Higher” peaked at No. 34 on the Hot 100, whereas the original by Sly and the Family Stone had peaked four numbers below that position. The Come Together and Workin’ Together albums marked a turning point in their careers in which they switched from their usual R&B repertoire to incorporate more rock tunes such as “Come Together”, “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Get Back”.

In early 1971, their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” became their biggest hit. The single reached No. 4 on the Hot 100 and sold more than a million copies, winning them a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. In July 1971, their live album, What You Hear Is What You Get, was released. It was recorded at Carnegie Hall and became their first certified Gold album. Later that year they had a top 40 R&B hit with “Ooh Poo Pah Doo”. Their next three singles to chart, “I’m Yours (Use Me Anyway You Wanna)”, “Up in Heah” and “Early One Morning” all peaked at No. 47 on the R&B chart.

In 1972, they opened Bolic Sound recording studio near their home in Inglewood. After Liberty was absorbed into United Artists Records, they were assigned to that label. Around this time, Turner began writing more songs. She wrote nine out of the ten tracks on their 1972 album Feel Good. Their 1973 hit single “Nutbush City Limits” (No. 22 Pop, No. 11 R&B), penned by Turner, reached No. 1 in Austria, No. 4 in the UK and the top 5 in several other countries. It was certified Silver by the BPI for selling a quarter of a million in the UK. As a result of their success, they received the Golden European Record Award, the first ever given, for selling more than one million records of “Nutbush City Limits” in Europe. Follow up hits include “Sweet Rhode Island Red” and “Sexy Ida” in 1974.

In 1974, the duo released the Grammy-nominated album The Gospel According to Ike & Tina, which was nominated for Best Soul Gospel Performance. Ike also received a solo nomination for his single “Father Alone” from the album. Turner’s first solo album, Tina Turns the Country On!, earned her a nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. That year, Turner filmed the rock opera Tommy in London. She played the Acid Queen, a drug-addicted prostitute; her performance was critically acclaimed. Shortly after filming wrapped, Turner appeared on Ann-Margret’s TV special. Following the release of Tommy in 1975, another solo album by Turner was released titled Acid Queen. The album reached No. 39 on the Billboard R&B chart. It produced charting singles “Baby, Get It On” and a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”.

Split: 1976

By the mid-1970s, Ike was heavily addicted to cocaine, which hindered his relationship with Turner. In 1976, they headlined at the Waldorf Astoria New York and signed a television deal with CBS-TV. Ike made plans to leave United Artists Records for a five-year deal with Cream Records for $150,000 per year; the deal was to be signed on July 5. On July 1, the Turners flew from Los Angeles to Dallas, where the revue had a gig at the Downtown Dallas Statler Hilton. They got into a physical altercation en route to the hotel. Shortly after arriving at the hotel, Turner fled from Ike with only 36 cents and a Mobil card and hid at the Ramada Inn across the freeway. She filed for divorce on July 27, and it was finalized on March 29, 1978. After their separation, United Artists released two more studio albums credited to the duo: Delilah’s Power (1977) and Airwaves (1978).

Career resurgence and superstardom: 1983–2000

Until 1983, Turner was considered a nostalgia act, performing mostly at hotel ballrooms and clubs in the United States. During her second stint at the Ritz, she signed with Capitol Records in 1983. In November 1983, she released her cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”, which was produced by B.E.F. It reached several European charts, including No. 6 in the UK. In the US, the song peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Songs, and No. 3 Hot Black Singles.

Following the single’s surprise success, Capitol Records greenlit a studio album. Turner had two weeks to record her Private Dancer album, which was released in May 1984. 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. Also in May 1984, Capitol issued the album’s second single, “What’s Love Got to Do with It”; the song had previously been recorded by the pop group Bucks Fizz. Following the album’s release, Turner joined Lionel Richie as the opening act on his tour.

On September 1, 1984, Turner achieved her first and only No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “What’s Love Got to Do with It”. The follow-up singles “Better Be Good to Me” and “Private Dancer” were both U.S. top 10 hits.

Turner culminated her comeback when she won three Grammys at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Award for Record of the Year for “What’s Love Got to Do with It”. In February 1985, she embarked on her second world tour to support the Private Dancer album. Two nights were filmed at Birmingham, England’s NEC Arena and later released as a concert on home video. During this time, she also contributed vocals to the USA for Africa benefit song “We Are the World”.

Turner’s success continued when she traveled to Australia to star opposite Mel Gibson in the 1985 post-apocalyptic film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The movie provided her with her first acting role in ten years; she portrayed the glamorous Aunty Entity, the ruler of Bartertown. Upon release, critical response to her performance was generally positive. The film was a global success, grossing more than $36 million in the United States. Turner later received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress for her role in the film. She recorded two songs for the film, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” and “One of the Living”; both became hits, with the latter winning her a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

In 1986, Turner released her sixth solo album, Break Every Rule, which reached No. 1 in four countries and sold over five million copies worldwide within its first year of release. The album sold more than a million copies in the United States and Germany alone. The album featured the singles “Typical Male”, “Two People”, “What You Get Is What You See “, and the Grammy-winning “Back Where You Started”. Prior to the album’s release, Turner published her autobiography I, Tina, which became a bestseller. That year, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her Break Every Rule World Tour, which began in March 1987 in Munich, Germany, was the third highest-grossing tour by a female artist in North America that year. In January 1988, Turner performed in front of approximately 180,000 at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, setting a Guinness World Record at the time for the largest paying concert attendance for a solo artist. In April 1988 Turner released the Tina Live in Europe album, which won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. After taking time off following the end of the tour, she emerged with the Foreign Affair album in 1989. It reached No. 1 in eight countries, including in the UK (5× Platinum), her first number one album here. The album sold over six million copies worldwide and included the international hit single “The Best “.

In 1990, Turner embarked on her Foreign Affair European Tour, which drew in nearly four million spectators—breaking the record for a European tour that was previously set by the Rolling Stones. In October 1990 Turner released her first greatest hits compilation Simply the Best, which sold seven million copies worldwide. The album is her biggest seller in the UK, where it’s certified 8× Platinum with more than two million copies sold.

In 1991, Ike & Tina Turner were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ike was incarcerated and Turner did not attend. Turner stated through her publicist that she was taking a leave of absence following her tour and she felt “emotionally unequipped to return to the U.S. and respond to the night of celebration in the manner she would want.”

In 1995 Turner returned to the studio, releasing “GoldenEye”, which was written by Bono and the Edge of U2 for the James Bond film GoldenEye. In 1996 Turner released the Wildest Dreams album, accompanied by her “Wildest Dreams Tour”. In September 1999, before celebrating her 60th birthday, Turner released the dance-infused song “When the Heartache Is Over” as the leading single from her tenth and final solo album, Twenty Four Seven. The success of the single and the following tour helped the album become certified Gold by the RIAA. The Twenty Four Seven Tour was the highest-grossing tour of 2000, grossing over $120 million.

2016-2021

In December 2016 Turner announced that she had been working on Tina, a musical based on her life story, in collaboration with Phyllida Lloyd and Stage Entertainment. The show opened at the Aldwych Theatre in London in April 2018 with Adrienne Warren in the lead role.

Turner received the 2018 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and her second memoir, My Love Story, was released in October 2018. In 2020, she came out of retirement to collaborate with Norwegian producer Kygo on a remix of “What’s Love Got to Do with It”. With this release, she became the first artist to have a top 40 hit in seven consecutive decades in the UK.

In 2020, Turner released her third book, Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good. She co-wrote the book with American author Taro Gold and Swiss singer Regula Curti. It was chosen by Amazon’s editors as a Best Nonfiction book of 2020.

In October 2021, Turner sold her music rights to BMG Rights Management for an estimated $50 million, with Warner Music still handling distribution of her music. Later that month, Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist, accepting her award via satellite from her home near Zurich, Switzerland.

Illness & Death

Turner revealed in her 2018 memoir My Love Story that she had suffered multiple life-threatening illnesses. In 2013, three weeks after her wedding to Erwin Bach, she suffered a stroke and had to learn to walk again. In 2016, she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Turner opted for homeopathic remedies for her high blood pressure. This untreated high blood pressure resulted in damage to her kidneys and eventual kidney failure. Her chances of receiving a kidney were low, and she was urged to start dialysis. She considered assisted suicide and signed up to be a member of Exit, but Bach offered to donate a kidney for her transplant. Turner had kidney transplant surgery on April 7, 2017.

On May 24, 2023, Turner died at her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, aged 83, following a long illness, including cancer, strokes, and kidney failure in her final years.

Date of birth: 26th Nov 1939

Date of Death: 24th May 2023 (aged 83)

 

Sources:

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tina_Turner

Sky News – https://news.sky.com/story/tina-turner-dies-aged-83-12888593