The singer Tina Turner has died this Wednesday at the age of 83, as reported by her spokesperson and has been picked up by the international press. In a statement they have reported that the ‘queen of rock’ has died after a long illness at her home in Kusnacht (Switzerland) and that “the world loses a music legend and a role model”. The artist has lived in this country since 1994 with her husband, the German music producer Erwin Bach, whom she married by the Buddhist rite in 2013 after almost 30 years of relationship. In 2013, she acquired Swiss citizenship. The great disco singer Gloria Gaynor, interpreter of I Will Survive fired her today with a message in which recognized Tina Turner as an “iconic legend” who “paved the way for so many women in rock music, both black and white. She did with great dignity and success what very few would have dared to do in her time and in that musical genre.
Tina Turner: The Making of a Rock and Roll Revolutionary
Turner was one of the most characteristic voices in music: wild, unbridled, charismatic, powerful. Like a lioness, she was one of the recurring comparisons. She began her career in the mid-’50s doing rhythm and blues with her first husband, Ike Turner, with whom she had great success. But her true revolution came when she converted her career as a soloist in the 80s, in the masculinized rock scene, which she conquered thanks to great songs like We Don’t Need Another Hero and The Best.
Tina Turner had retired from the stage after a farewell tour between 2008 and 2009, which was released on a DVD titled Tina Live. He was 69 years old and, in addition to this great final tour, he published his last two new songs: It Would Be a Crime and I’m ready. It was an unexpected return, since in 2000 she had already announced her abandonment of the stage, but a very well received duet with Beyoncé, at the Grammy Awards that year, had put her back in the spotlight. And she felt that she hadn’t said the last word to her.
The singer has been present on the music scene for decades, including for the new generations thanks to the success of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, made in collaboration with her and which was also performed on the Gran Vía in Madrid for a year and a half. The last record edition of the singer has been an edition deluxe and remastered from his album Break Every Rule of 1986, published last November. It also includes the legendary concert that he offered in Rio de Janeiro where he broke the world audience record in 1988, with 182,000 spectators at the Maracana stadium.
Also in 2022 his memoirs were published Happiness is born in you. A spiritual guide that will change your life (Firefly) about the spiritual journey that learning and practicing Buddhists meant for her. In these pages, she revealed details of a life full of obstacles: an unhappy childhood, abandonment, a violent marriage, a stagnant career, financial ruin, multiple illnesses, or the premature death of relatives.
A childhood and youth marked by abuse
Anna-Mae Bullock, Tina Turner’s real name, was born on November 26, 1939 in Nutbush, Tennessee. She was 11 years old when her mother abandoned her, fleeing from the abuse of her husband. At 16, she decided to go find her mother in St. Louis, to live there with her and her sister.
It was Ike Turner who changed Anna-Mae’s name. He met her in 1956 and, impressed by her voice, he asked her to sing onstage with her band, The Kings of the Rhythm. Not long after, the group became Ike & Tina Turner, and the couple married in 1962. In the 1960s, their success was astonishing, not only because of the songs and vocals, but also because visionary producer Phil Spector worked with them their characteristic “wall of sound”, a type of reverberated production that undoubtedly defined the sound of the time.
In the emblematic year 1969, in which the British Rolling Stones stormed the United States, Ike & Tina acted as their opening act, which was a great accolade. The couple endorsed, in a master move, a version of the come together by the Beatles, which had been released that same year, and with which Tina moved “like a snake” across the stage. But she also remembers a lot I’ve Been Loving You Too Longby Otis Redding, whose performance can be seen on Gimme Shelter, the film that was shot at the mythical Altamont concert, which ended in tragedy, where Tina caresses the microphone in an elusive, nervous way while she sings. After these concerts, the magazines said that Tina’s image was “that of a lioness in heat”. Wild animal metaphors have worked for the singer since the beginning of her career.
Inspiring, warm, funny and generous
Mick Jagger too said goodbye to Tina today, whom he has called “wonderful friend”: “She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny, and generous. She helped me a lot when she was young and I will never forget her”.
Ike Turner was a controller. A dominator, an abuser and also a cocaine addict. From that life, Tina tried to escape with an overdose of tranquilizers. The ups and downs were constant in those years, as the 70s progressed. They recorded their great success, Proud Mary, a version by the Creedence Clearwater Revival that launched them towards the Grammy for best r’n’b performance in 1971. In the hands of Ike and Tina, the Creedence song is stretched, told like a story, told to herself. Turner herself anticipates: “We are going to take the beginning of this song and make it easy but then we go to the end to make it bravo”. And this is how they do it, from simplicity to madness.
When Tina landed the role of Acid Queen in Tommy, the Who’s 1975 musical film, was almost about to break loose. Like a wild beast, she fervently guides Roger Daltrey into LSD madness. Just a year later, Tina dumps Ike just before they are to catch a plane. She left with 36 cents in her pocket and a credit card to a motel across the road.
After the divorce, the new Tina emerged in 1978, with her third solo album and a new decade, the 80s, eagerly awaiting her around the corner, a virgin territory where she would be the queen. Symbolically, in 1981, she once again opened for the Rolling Stones and, soon after, she became one of the first African-American artists to appear on the new spring of the music industry that would pull the strings of fame: the television network musical mtv.
In just two weeks in 1984 the artist recorded her album Private Dancer, Urged on by the Capitol label after the unexpected triumph of a new version, Let’s Stay Together by Al Green (1972). A reinterpretation of whose success its producer, the Englishman Martyn Ware, a member of the groups new romantics The Human League and Heaven 16, who knew how to brilliantly imprint the steamy setting typical of that British scene to Tina’s modernization proposal, which leaves her voice in the song. When knowing if death, Ware has posted on his Twitter account that “Tina brought immense pleasure to millions of people: everyone loved her and she loved everyone too.” In addition, she has been for him “the most extraordinary performer” with whom she has recorded: “The world is a much poorer place because of her death… There can never be another Tina,” she added.
With Private Dancer, which also included the success What’s Love Got to Do with It, He won three Grammys, sold more than 10 million copies and sang a version of Iggy Pop with David Bowie. A whole series of great events that are difficult to overcome. But he did. In 1985 Tina had a key role in the apocalypse. She was the villainous Aunty Entity, the head of the corrupt post-apocalyptic city of Bartertown in Mad Max, beyond Thunderdome. Just in case there was any audience left unconquered. In addition, she recorded two songs for the film, one of them We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome).
His subsequent career grew exponentially, selling out world tours and stadiums like the Maracana. With his 1991 compilation Simple The Best he also earned a homonymous motto, which many have remembered today in his farewell. She again made a version her own, in this case The Best, by Bonnie Tyler, making the public forget the original.
The artist completed her recording career with two more studio albums in the 90s and, with the turn of the century, her career was limited to performances, concerts, singles and compilations. She collected her memories in various books and some of her films recounted her life, such as the documentary Tub of 2021 or the biopic of the same name from 1993. In the last years before her death, the artist suffered from different diseases, both of the digestive and renal systems —her husband Erwin Bach donated a kidney to her in 2017—, as well as a stroke that paralyzed her half body and forced him to relearn how to walk.