Tina Turner Dies at Age 83

Music has lost its leading lady of Rock & Roll. Tina Turner passed away on Wednesday (May 24) following a long illness. She was 83. Turner is known as the Queen of Rock & Roll and has led the way for women in the music industry. 

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The news was announced on the singer’s social media pages Wednesday afternoon.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner,” a Facebook post read. “With her music and her boundless passion for life, she enchanted millions of fans around the world and inspired the stars of tomorrow. Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music. All our heartfelt compassion goes out to her family. Tina, we will miss you dearly.”

Early Life & Successes

Turner was born Anna-Mae Bullock in the rural town of Nutbush, Tennessee, on November 26, 1939, to parents Zelma Priscilla and Floyd Richard Bullock. She has two siblings, Alline Bullock and Evelyn Juanita Currie. When Turner was 11, her grandmother became her guardian after her father remarried and her mother moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Young Turner didn’t stay for long, though. In 1956, she followed her mother and sister to St. Louis. She was just 16. 

It was at this time that Turner met record producer and blues star Ike Turner. She became the first female member of his soul band, The Kings of Rhythm, after seeing her perform at Club Manhattan. The two worked so well together that they eventually formed the band Ike and Tina Turner Revue. This is where Anna-Mae Bullock gets her famous name Tina Turner.

In her time with the Revue, she opened for the Rolling Stones during their UK tour, worked with record producer Phil Spector and received her first Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance. She and her husband received a Grammy for their hit “Proud Mary” in 1971. Their last hit as a band was “Nutbush City Limits” in 1973. In 1978, Turner divorced her husband after years of physical abuse. 

Not Just a Musician

It’s more than safe to say that Turner dabbled in many different arts. In 1975, the Queen of Rock & Roll starred in The Who’s The Acid Queen. She is also featured in the film’s soundtrack. At this point, the R&B star crossed genres with The Who, which was just a preview into her life as a rock star. 

In 1985, she starred in Mel Gibson’s film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome where she played Aunt Entity. She recorded the title track for the film and was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress. 

Turner released her first fifth solo album, Private Dancer, in 1984. She published her autobiography, I, Tina, in 1986. Seven years later, her book was adapted into a feature film, What’s Love Got to Do With It. It was nominated for Academy Awards and received a Golden Globe for Best Actress. 

By 1988, she went on her Break Every Rule Tour, where she performed with Paul McCartney. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 with her ex-husband Ike Turner. The “Proud Mary” singer became a staple in the James Bond series after recording the title track for the 1995 hit, Golden Eye

Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’

Turner kicked off the 21st century on a trailblazing career. She received the Music of Black Origin’s (MOBO) Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. She was recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors in 2005 where President Bush, Beyonce, and Queen Latifah paid tributes to her. The leading lady of rock ‘n’ roll later performed with Beyonce at the Grammys in 2008. She continued to tour the same year when she began her 50th Anniversary Tour in the U.S. and Europe. 

Turner has always been simply the best, and record producer Erwin Bach recognized that in 2013 when the two got married. The Tina Turner Musical was developed in 2016, reflecting her life and successes as a Black woman in rock ‘n’ roll. The play made its way to Broadway on April 17, 2018. TINA, a documentary about Turner, was released on March 27, 2021. It was also the final piece of work about her in her lifetime. 

Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns

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