Tina Turner, the trailblazing Queen of Rock and Roll whose personal story inspired the classic biopic “What’s Love Got to Do with It” and a recent Broadway musical, has died, Deadline reports. She was 83.
The iconic singer died at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, following a long illness.
Her spokesperson Bernard Doherty said in a statement, “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”
Her Facebook page confirmed the sad news with the statement: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner. 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.”
Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee, she and her impoverished family grew up in nearby Nutbush. She and her siblings picked cotton and were bounced around to different homes, with Anna Mae being raised for a time by her grandparents and then by an aunt, her mother having abandoned the family. She lived with her mother as an older teen in St. Louis, but not for long.
With her sister, she hit up St. Louis nightclubs. In 1957, she spied future husband Ike Turner performing with the Kings of Rhythm and impressed him with her raw vocals when she impulsively grabbed the mic and sang. She was invited to sing with his band and began her recording career in 1958 as “Little Ann.”
Rebranded as Tina Turner — Tina as tribute to popular character Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and Turner to reflect Ike’s possession of her persona — her career first took off in 1960 with the self-written hit single “A Fool in Love.”
Turner enjoyed a string of Billboard hits and received a Grammy nomination, for “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” (1961).
It was around that time that her future husband, Ike Turner, created the Ike & Tina Turner Revue and launched a successful tour. The couple was a renowned live act, and Turner was already displaying a trademark wild performance style that distinguished her from every other female vocalist working.
Signed to a deal by producer Phil Spector, the couple’s “River Deep — Mountain High” was released in 1966. Incredibly, it flopped in the U.S, though is now a universally revered landmark recording.
Ike & Tina opened for the Stones, forging a lifelong friendship between Tina and frontman Mick Jagger, and Tina became the first Black artist and first woman on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1967.
Working tirelessly and spitting out albums and TV appearances, the couple was rock royalty by in the ’70s, logging another indelible hit with “Proud Mary” (1971), along with many rock covers that allowed them to cross over in the highly segregated music world.
“Nutbush City Limits” was a hit for the duo in 1973, a highly personal story of Tina’s early years that was even more successful abroad.
Tina made her acting debut in the acclaimed movie version of the rock opera “Tommy” in 1976, playing the Acid Queen, and had two solo albums under her belt by then.
After years of enduring controlling behavior and physical abuse from Ike, Tina left him in 1976, famously walking out with just 36 cents and a Mobil card to her name, divorcing him in 1978.
To pay the bills, Turner did TV work and made appearances in Las Vegas, but more solo work went unnoticed.
Leading up to her reemergence as a musical force in 1984, Turner cut a cover of the Temptations hit “Ball of Confusion” that found her on MTV — among the only Black artists to break the color barrier.
Her cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” (1983) led to a solo album for a new label, Capitol. “Private Dancer,” an album that leaned far more heavily into the pop arena than she ever had, was released in 1984, and became a massive hit thanks to the no. 1 status of the single “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” A new, spiky-haired look, a spotlight on her famous legs, and undeniably fresh material allowed Turner to make perhaps rock’s greatest comeback, at 44.