Legendary rock ‘n’ roll singer Tina Turner passed away peacefully Wednesday in her Switzerland home after battling a long illness. She was 83.
The global superstar was best known for her iconic R&B hits, skyrocketing to fame with her single ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ in 1984. Through the 1980s, Turner won several Grammy awards as she cranked out chart-toppers like ‘The Best,’ ‘Private Dancer,’ and ‘Typical Male.’
Turner owned her signature style of spiky blonde hair, cropped denim jackets, a mini skirt, and powerful strut in 3-inch heels, becoming one of the most well-known female singers of the time.
But beyond an iconic sense of fashion, Turner was lauded for fleeing and speaking up against her abusive husband, guitarist Ike Turner.
“For a long time, I felt like I was stuck, with no way out of the unhealthy situation I was in. Not knowing where I was headed or what I could do to get out was painful,” Tina Turner said when asked how she had the strength to leave Ike, speaking to Harvard Business Review in 2021.
Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 near Nutbush, Tennessee, a rural community she later made famous in her autobiographical song “Nutbush City Limits.” Turner’s mother left the family when she was young, but she and her sister Ruby rejoined their mother in St. Louis, MO.
It was in St. Louis, at the young age of 17, where she met Ike Turner while visiting local clubs. He recruited her to join his band, Kings of Rhythm, as a singer, marking the start of her illustrious career and abusive relationship with him. She began performing as Tina Turner, and in 1960, they formed the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.
As Turner stated in several interviews and her autobiography, physical abuse from Ike started soon after their relationship began. His beatings knew no limits, and he often beat her black and blue right before they performed on stage. Visits to the emergency room became routine for her until she walked away from Ike in 1976.
Her solo career floundered for a few years before she had a breakthrough with ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It.’ Lawsuits were mounting from canceled Ike and Tina Turner gigs. She appeared on several TV shows to earn income, most notably The Hollywood Squares and The Brady Bunch Hour.
Her Life Through Her Lens
Turner wrote her autobiography, I, Tina, in 1986, detailing her childhood in Nutbush, her rise to fame in St Louis with Ike, and the decade of abuse she endured at his hand.
Her second book, My Love Story, outlines her musical success and the strength she channeled to leave Ike. Tina Turner: That’s My Life was her third book showcasing never-before-seen candid photos, letters, and personal items. Her fourth book, Happiness Becomes You: A Guide To Changing Your Life For Good draws from her own life lessons and shows how Buddhism helped her transform from adversity and poverty to joy and stability.
Tributes poured in from all over the world hours after the news of Turner’s death.
“I’m so saddened by the passing of my wonderful friend Tina Turner,” music icon Mick Jagger tweeted.
“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.”Mick Jagger
Canadian singer Bryan Adams, who paired with Turner on the 1985 single “It’s Only Love,” said, “The world just lost one hell of a powerhouse of a woman.”
For more content on music icons, read here.