Tina Turner, 82: the life of the Rock 'n' Roll Queen in pictures
The legend that is Tina Turner. One of the world’s all-time favourite female artists who was, deservedly, dubbed ‘The Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll’. Everything about her is memorable, from her songs to her private life and, of course, her whole image right from her hair to her legs. On November 26, she turned 82. Here's the story of her incredible life and career.
“I've had an abusive life. There's no other way to tell the story. It's a reality. It's the truth. That's what you got. So you have to accept it.” These are the singer’s own iconic words. Despite hardships, Tina became a household name and loved by millions of fans.
Turner's story has been told many times. She chronicled her difficult past in her 1986 best-willing memoir: ‘I, Tina’ which was taken in 1993 and turned into a film dramatisation of her life ('What’s Love Got to Do With It') to great critical acclaim. Most recently her story was turned into a Broadway musical in 2019 which has received stellar reviews in many countries around the world.
As many know, Tina started her life in very humble beginnings. Not only was the future star working as a cotton picker, but she also witnessed family abuse at a young age when her mother eventually walked out after years of abuse from her father.
She found solace in creating music with Ike Turner. He was everything to Tina, from director to inspiration and, eventually husband.
In 1960, Ike Turner wrote 'A Fool in Love' for Art Lassiter, who, believe it or not, failed to show up to the studio session. He had already paid for the session, so, as not to lose money, Ike let Tina (who was supposed to sing backing vocals) perform the song.
Anna Mae Bullock became ‘Tina Turner’ for the first time with 'A Fool in Love' and it shot straight to No. 2 on the Hot R&B Sides chart. It was her first hit single.
Following this success, Ike and Tina Turner earned a Grammy Award nomination for their second hit, 'It's Gonna Work Out Fine'. They were an incredible duo to watch in person and, despite their recording success, continued to be better known as a live act.
They were eventually spotted by producer Phil Spector, who made sure Tina was in front of the mic and he produced the monumental ‘River Deep - Mountain High’. This went straight to number 3 in the UK, but surprisingly was a flop in the US.
There was no time for the duo to reflect on the mixed reviews for, what would be, an international timeless hit. They moved straight on to increasing their fan base in the States and supported The Rolling Stones on their 1969 tour.
Their two biggest hits, the well-loved cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Proud Mary' (1971) and their own 'Nutbush City Limits' (1973) followed the tour and they cemented their names in the music industry.
Tina was making a name for herself, including appearing as The Acid Queen in Ken Russell's movie version of The Who's 'Tommy'. But this seemed to all be a front and troubles at home were afoot.
Ike had a serious drug problem and these issues escalated, leaving Tina’s fortunes hanging by a thread. Their marriage was tainted with domestic violence, something the star reflected on later in her life.
She wrote about the abusive relationship she endured with her husband Ike in her autobiography, I, Tina. The story of the moment she chose her own personal journey over her professional success is truly something out of a movie.
In 1976, she escaped Ike, literally. They were on their way to Dallas and there was some kind of a physical altercation between them which caused Tina to walk across the freeway to a nearby hotel for refuge. She had 36 cents in her pocket.
So, the couple eventually divorced in 1978, but Tina held on to her stage name. Her place in the music industry was hanging by a thread when she left her husband, but she played in Las Vegas and made some albums. However, they weren’t very successful and it seemed as though it really could have been the end for Tina’s musical career.
There is an extremely harrowing video clip of and interview with Turner in 1985 where she discusses the lack of love she experienced - in such an open, honest and frank way. “I have not received love almost ever in my life. I did not have it with my mother and father from the beginning, and I survived...I have had not one love affair that was genuine and sustained itself—not one. I’ve been through [expletive] tons of heartbreak...I said: ‘What's wrong with me?’”
Nothing was wrong with the star, she just needed to find her way back. Despite her incredible look and famous dance moves, her records weren’t selling very well. She was creating a solo career, playing at smaller venues in Las Vegas and touring abroad. Something had to change to launch her into stardom.
Her new manager made a suggestion - he advised her to refashion herself as a rock star, as opposed to a traditional soul singer. Tina agreed, which was probably one of the best decisions she ever made (aside from walking away from her husband, of course).
She get herself a new recording deal with Capitol Records thanks for her good old pal Davie Bowie giving a little nudge in order to make it happen. She started performing some high profile gigs and then came 'Let’s Stay Together'.
Tina released a cover of Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’, which put her name back into the spotlight. Although the song itself only peaked at number 26 in the US. It was, however, loved in the UK and other countries around the world, thrusting her into the previous fame she thought she had lost.
MTV definitely helped. The launch of this visual music channel meant that Tina was watched (and loved) all around the world. Her look was original, her voice was splendid, her outfits were always worthy of comment, her hair was always wild and fantastic. And those famous legs…
'What's Love Got to Do With It' was Tina's first and only No. 1 Billboard hit. Her next singles, 'Better Be Good to Me' and 'I Can't Stand the Rain,' all off the album, 'Private Dancer', were also commercial successes. At 44 years old, Tina was reaching the heights of her career.
She was becoming the Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll and many were drawn to her stage presence and fascinating aura. She was a complete legend to watch live.
The star released '(Simply) The Best’, one of her most iconic songs. Believe it or not, the song wasn’t one of her best-sellers at the time of release. It only reached Number 22 in the UK. But it’s an anthem we all will know the words to for many years to come.
Tina took to the big screen as Aunty Entity in 'Mad Max' alongside Mel Gibson. It was a box-office hit and she looked incredible as an Amazonian ruthless ruler. She recorded two songs for the soundtrack, one of those was 'We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)'
'We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)' became a massive international hit. It achieved a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song and a Gammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. It was also nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video.
The Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll continued to sell remarkable records, release jaw-dropping music videos and give sell-out tours until she announced that her final Twenty Four Seven Tour tour at the age of 60 would be her last.
"I've done enough," Turner told the crowd of 75,000 at Letzigrund Stadium. "I've been performing for 44 years. I really should hang up my dancing shoes," she said, according to Reuters.
She came back. Tina just couldn’t (and probably shouldn’t) ever leave the stage. Some people are born to continue performing their whole lives. She returned for her 50th Anniversary tour in 2008 which, unsurprisingly, sold out. She bagged $130 million from the tour then decided to call it a day again.
Until she was on the stage once again performing with Beyoncé. The two performed 'Proud Mary' at the 2008 Grammys and Beyoncé made a beautiful homage to the veteran singer, saying that she ‘paved the way for artists just like her.’
In 2013, Tina appeared on the cover of German Vogue. This photo appearance gave Tina the title of the oldest woman to ever appear on the magazine's front page. And she looked flawless. She was absolutely a motivation and inspiration to many.
In the same year, Tina moved to Switzerland and became a citizen. This could have something to do with her marriage to German music executive Erwin Bach. She met him many years ago in 1985 and finally married after 27 years together.
Tina told Hello! at the time: "It's that happiness that people talk about, when you wish for nothing, when you can finally take a deep breath and say, 'Everything is good'. It's a wonderful place to be." Sweet!
Tina, deservedly, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. An incredible life of music to look back on.
In July 2020, Kygo's remix of 'What's Love Got to Do with It' hit the charts and was a big success. As a result, Tina became the first artist to have a Top 40 hit across seven consecutive decades in the UK.
Tina, at the beginning of the trailer for the film 'What’s Love Got to Do With It' speaks openly and reflects on her time in the spotlight:
“Look what I have done in this lifetime with this body… I’m a girl from a cotton field that pulled myself above what was not taught to me.”