Tina Turner, Rock Star Who Packed Stadiums, Dies at 83

Tina Turner, the Grammy Award-winning singer who sold out massive stadiums with her powerful and sultry singing and made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has died. She was 83.

(Bloomberg) — Tina Turner, the Grammy Award-winning singer who sold out massive stadiums with her powerful and sultry singing and made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has died. She was 83.

She died on Wednesday at her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, near Zurich, the New York Times reported, citing her publicist, Bernard Doherty.

Known as much for her hyper-energetic dance moves — she purportedly taught Mick Jagger how to move on stage — as her explosive and sultry singing, Turner initially rose to fame in the 1960s singing rhythm and blues as part of the duo with her husband, Ike. After a divorce and a fallow period, she revived her career in the mid-1980s as a solo performer who sold out massive stadiums.

“She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer,” Jagger said in a statement. “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.”

Turner won her first Grammy in 1971 for Proud Mary. Another tune of the era, What’s Love Got to Do With It?, served as the title of a 1993 biopic starring Angela Bassett as Turner.

The singer ventured into movies, notably as Aunty Entity in the 1985 action film Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. She was the subject of a 2019 Broadway musical and a 2021 HBO documentary, both called Tina.

Despite all her success and a long love affair with German music executive Erwin Bach, Turner had a grim view of her journey when asked about it in the documentary.

“It wasn’t a good life,” Turner said, revealing that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of beatings during her first marriage. “The good did not balance the bad. I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story.”

Solo Career

She and Ike were inducted into the rock music’s Hall of Fame as a duo in 1991, based largely on her enduring songs such as Proud Mary and River Deep, Mountain High. She was inducted again three decades later, this time for her solo career, which began in earnest in the mid-1980s. 

As a middle-aged singer, she struggled as a solo act after her 1978 divorce from Ike. A cabaret act in Las Vegas was followed by duets with performers such as Rod Stewart.

It was not until 1984 that she released her first solo album, Private Dancer. The recording, which included several hit singles, sold more than 20 million copies and won multiple Grammy awards, including record of the year and best female vocal performance for What’s Love Got To Do With It?, which became her signature song.

Turner received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005 and gave her final performance in 2009. After that, she led a quiet life in Switzerland with Bach, whom she married in 2013 after a long romantic relationship.

Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on Nov. 26, 1939, in Nutbush, Tennessee, a town made famous in her song, Nutbush City Limits. Her parents, Floyd and Zelma Bullock, were sharecroppers. Her father abandoned the family, and Turner was raised for a while by her grandparents.

“She didn’t want me,” Turner said of her mother. 

R&B Nightclubs

Nonetheless, she reunited with her mother in St. Louis, where she went to high school and was introduced to R&B nightclubs as a teenager. 

At one of them, she wound up singing for Ike Turner, then leader of a group called the Kings of Rhythm. He liked what he heard, realized she was his key to commercial success and had her record A Fool in Love in 1960. After it took off, he married her and urged her to change her first name to Tina. As the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, the pair became popular at R&B venues. 

Turner had two biological sons. The first was Raymond Craig Hill, whose father was Raymond Hill, a saxophonist with the Kings of Rhythm. Ike adopted him and changed his last name to Turner. She had her second son Ronald with Ike and later adopted two of his children, Ike Jr. and Michael, from a previous relationship.

(Adds Mick Jagger comment in fourth paragraph.)

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