Long time talent and entertainer Tina Turner dies in Swiss home at age 83. Join as we take a look into the past to admire her career and accomplishments.
By Diego Macedonio Andres
Content Warning: Mentions of domestic violence and substance abuse.
Tina Turner, A pioneer for Rock’n’roll with an explosive personality to match, has sadly passed away in her Swiss home on May 24th, 2023.
The Announcement was made through an Instagram statement posted on Tina Turner’s official Instagram (@tinaturner) stating “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.”
Turner amplified Black women’s involvement in the creation of Rock’n’roll and cemented herself as not only one of the biggest names in Pop and Rock but also as one of the most defining artists of a generation.
She had been suffering from many complications in her personal health as of recent years. Suffering from a stroke in 2013, getting diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and later a kidney transplant in 2017.
After an extensive career with many ups and downs, multiple Grammys, movie rolls and successful tours, Turner became the Pop voice of the 80s and 90s. Challenging the norms of rock and roll and inspired many like Mick Jagger, Bowie and Elton John with her astonishing stage presence.
And with this we honor her memory as we dive into her career and explore the trials and tribulations she faced and how she touched many through her music.
Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, and grew up in a small town named Nutbush, Tennessee to sharecropping parents. She recalls picking cotton in Tennessee as a way to help her family financially, but this didn’t last long as her parents would end up separating in the early 1950s and her and her siblings would move in with her grandma in St. Louis.
Tina In the 60s
After years as a teen singing at the local club scene clubs, in 1956 Anna would meet Ike Turner and they would form a performing duo making a splash in the St. Louis scene. It was here that Ike changed and trademarked Anna’s name to Tina Turner. Though they continued to be a huge success in St. Louis, the couple wouldn’t make it onto the national stage until 1960 after another artist failed to show up to the Kings of Rhythm recording session, prompting Tina and Ike to cover and sing “A Fool in Love” which quickly became a success.
After this, the couple would reach national recognition and married in 1962, having 4 children. though Tina would only have 2 biological children, one with
Raymond Hill (Craige Turner) and later with Ike Turner (Ronnie Turner). She would later adopt both or Ike’s children from a previous marriage (Ike Turner Jr. and Michael Turner).
It wasn’t until the late 60s that the duo would reach international recognition. In 1966 Tina and Ike released “river deep mountain high” which would not reach great heights in the US but charted top five in England. Following this The Rolling Stones would recognize their talent and took them as their opening act for their tour in 1969.
Hardship in the 70s
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Tina’s career continued to flourish into the seventies and skyrocketed in 1971 after the release of “Proud Mary” which would win her two Grammys. And in 1975 Tina would make her debut to the silver screen as the Acid Queen in Tommy, an English opera turned film.
Despite this peak in her career, behind closed doors there were many problems within the couple’s marriage. After a physical altercation between Ike
and Tina in 1975, they would separate professionally and later that year Tina would file for divorce. In Tina’s memoir she would write that the divorce came after years of domestic violence, infidelity and substance abuse which was becoming more and more regular as their career developed. She stated that the abuse had been going on since the couple met in the 50s and attributed her heavy makeup of this era as a result of trying to hide scarring and bruising.
The divorce would be finalized in 1978 and Tina would take custody of all four children. She would work incredibly hard to provide for her family in following years as after the divorce her career would reach a stump, relying on cleaning houses and using food stamps to provide for her children. She would do anything she could to keep her family afloat during this difficult time and with admiration we continue with her story.
Despite these trials, Turner never gave up and continued to work as a performer and her career would once again take off.
Superstar of the 80s and 90s
After years of struggling Turner’s career would once again launch her into the stratosphere as in 1983, she would release her first solo album titled “Private Dancer” containing the forever iconic “Let’s Stay Together”. This would launch once again to a top 5 artist in the U.S. and top 10 in the U.K., selling over 12 million copies.
The success of this album would earn her four more Grammys (including record of the year) and propel her to reach the number one spot in U.S. charts with “What’s Love Got To Do With It”.
Turner would also return to acting in this decade starring on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome alongside Mel Gibson in 1985. And would go on to release Her first book I Turner in 1986 which would later be adapted into a movie in 1993 starring Angela Bassett as Tina and Laurence Fishburne as her ex-husband. The film would be nominated for many Oscars, Golden Globes and Emmys.
In 1986 She would release Break every rule, a rebellious album that would criticize many societal norms especially toxic masculinity. Following this up with “Tina Live in Europe” and “Foreign Affair”. Which would bolster her career domestically and ESPECIALLY internationally.
In 1991 Tina would be inducted into the Rock’n’roll hall of fame for the first time along with her ex-husband. “Wildest Dreams” and “Twenty-Four Seven” would be released following that in 1996 and 1999, which included some of the most iconic songs used in movie soundtracks of the 90s for James Bond and Lion King 2. (Which, side note, were two of my favorite movies that I would watch almost religiously as a kid in the 2000s).
In 2008 Tina announced her final tour, “Tina! Fiftieth anniversary tour” which made immense profit and was attended by many worldwide. In 2013 Tina married her longtime partner Erwin Bach and gained Swiss citizenship. She loved Europe and stated in an interview that though she was American, Switzerland would be her home, and to that she kept.
Trouble though would soon ensure as shortly after getting married in 2013 she would suffer a stroke. following that in 2016 she would be diagnosed with intestinal cancer and the next year; she would undergo a kidney transplant donated to her by her husband.
2018 would be an intense time in Turner’s life with many wins and losses. That year she would be honored with a grammy lifetime achievement award and would forgive her ex-husband but stated she would not work with him again. She would also be honored in London when Tina! The musical would debut in the spring. But these recognitions would be short lived as in the summer her eldest son would die of a self-inflicted gunshot in Studio City California.
In 2021 she was inducted to the rock and roll hall of fame for the second time as a solo artist as she rightfully deserved. But soon after tragedy would strike again as her son Ronnie would die in 2022 of colon cancer.
In Death We Mourn
Though it is still unconfirmed exactly what took her life, it has been stated by many close to her that she died peacefully of natural causes in bed at her Swiss home. Many mourn Turner’s death such as Erykah Badu and Angela Bassett who took inspiration from the late star. As well as President Biden and his family who stated that “Today we join fans around the world in
honoring the Queen of Rock and Roll and a star whose light will never fade away” and the former presidential family, the Obamas, who stated that “She was unstoppable. And she was unapologetically herself — speaking and singing her truth through joy and pain; triumph and tragedy,”
We recognize the incredible talent that Tina was and I myself am grateful to have existed in the same lifetime as the forever inspirational hard working and talented woman that was Tinna Turner.
Breen, Kerry. “Tina Turner, “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” dies at 83.” CBS News, 24 May 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tina-turner-dead-83/. Accessed 1 June 2023.
“Singer, Ike and Tina Turner.” Biography, 26 May 2023, https://www.biography.com/musicians/tina-turner. Accessed 1 June 2023.