- As U.S. mourns the ‘once-in-a-generation talent that changed American music forever’
Tina Turner addresses the media during the presentation of the music project Beyond: Three Voices For Peace in Zurich in 2009. Photograph: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images
American President Joe Biden and music sensation Beyonce are leading eminent personalities across the world paying glowing tributes to the departed music icon, Tina Turner, who is widely regarded as the once-in-a-generation talent who changed American music forever.
The Rock ‘n Roll legend died on Wednesday night aged 83 after a long illness
The singer, who achieved global fame with a string of soulful hits including River Deep – Mountain High, The Best and What’s Love Got To Do With It, triumphed over early adversity and also overcame domestic abuse, to become one of the world’s most loved singers.
She died at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland.
Announcing her death, a representative said the world had lost “a music legend and a role model”.
“With her music and her inexhaustible vitality, Tina Turner thrilled millions of fans and inspired many artists of subsequent generations,” they added.
There will be a private funeral ceremony attended by close friends and family, they said.
Music world in mourning
Tributes poured in, including from her manager of thirty years, Roger Davies, who described her as a “unique and remarkable force of nature, with her strength, incredible energy, and immense talent”.
“From the first day I met her in 1980, she believed in herself completely when few others did at that time. It was a privilege and an honor to have been a close friend as well as her manager for more than 30 years,” he said, adding that he would miss the star “deeply”.
The White House issued a statement lamenting the “incredibly sad news” for the communities who loved Turner and US President Joe Biden remarked on the singer’s “remarkable” strength.
“In addition to being a once-in-a-generation talent that changed American music forever, Tina’s personal strength was remarkable,” Mr Biden said.
“Overcoming adversity, and even abuse, she built a career for the ages and a life and legacy that were entirely hers.”
Beyonce shared a tribute to Tina Turner on her website alongside a picture of the pair’s 2008 duet at the Grammy Awards.
“My beloved queen. I love you endlessly,” she wrote.
“I am so grateful for your inspiration, and all the ways you have paved the way. You are strength and resilience. You are the epitome of passion and power.
“We are all so fortunate to have witnessed your kindness and beautiful spirit that will forever remain. Thank you for all you have done.”
Fellow singer Gloria Gaynor described Turner as an “iconic legend who paved the way for so many women in rock music, black and white” and Maria Carey remembered a “trailblazer” and “survivor” who was an inspiration to women.
Diana Ross said she was “shocked” and “saddened” by the news of Tina Turner’s death, while Sir Elton John paid tribute to a “total legend on record and on stage”.
The Rolling Stones’ Sir Mick Jagger, who duetted with Tina Turner during Live Aid in 1985, told of his sadness at the news of her passing, writing on Twitter:
Oprah Winfrey remembered “our forever goddess of rock ‘n’ roll” who she said was “a role model not only for me but for the world”.
In a lengthy tribute posted to Instagram, Winfrey wrote: “I started out as a fan of Tina Turner, then a full-on groupie, following her from show to show around the country, and then, eventually, we became real friends.
“She is our forever goddess of rock ‘n’ roll who contained a magnitude of inner strength that grew throughout her life.
“She was a role model not only for me but for the world. She encouraged a part of me I didn’t know existed.”
Actor Angela Bassett, who played Turner in a 1993 film about the singer’s life, said: “How do we say farewell to a woman who owned her pain and trauma and used it as a means to help change the world?
“Through her courage in telling her story, her commitment to stay the course in her life, no matter the sacrifice, and her determination to carve out a space in rock and roll for herself and for others who look like her, Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion, and freedom should look like.
“While we mourn the loss of this iconic voice and presence, she gave us more than we could have ever asked. She gave us her whole self. And Tina Turner is a gift that will always be ‘simply the best.'”
‘Finally, everything is good’
Turner was born Anna-Mae Bullock in a segregated hospital in rural Nutbush, Tennessee – later immortalised in her song Nutbush City Limits – on November 26, 1939, to parents Zelma Priscilla and farmworker Floyd Richard Bullock.
She endured a difficult childhood, separated from her elder sister, Aillene in early life when her parents moved to work in a munitions factory and she was sent to live with her religious grandparents.
She said later that she had received “no love” from either of her parents. Her mother left her father when she was only eleven years old over domestic abuse, and at thirteen, on her father’s remarriage, she and her sister were sent to live with her grandmother in Brownsville, Tennessee.
Turner later supported domestic abuse charities, and Women’s Aid paid tribute to her work after her death, as “a survivor of domestic abuse who went on to inspire other women”.
The charity previously said it was “meaningful” to have “the story of such a powerful and influential woman supporting our mission”.
An outgoing teenager, who enjoyed singing and cheerleading at her local high school, she graduated in 1958 and got a job in St Louis, Missouri, as a hospital nurse – it was in a St Louis nightclub with her sister that she first saw her future husband, Ike Turner, onstage with his band, The Kings of Rhythm.
She became the leading lady of the “Ike and Tina Turner Revue”, and the couple, who married in 1962, toured together for years. However, Ike was allegedly violent towards her behind the scenes, forcing her to perform with bronchitis, pneumonia, and a collapsed lung. Allegedly, he would choke her, throw hot coffee in her face, hit her, and sexually assault her.
Turner later credited her Buddhist faith with empowering her to leave in 1976. But her 1983 cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” became a runaway success and she emerged as a global star, with her 1984 album Private Dancer winning accolades. The 1993 film, What’s Love Got to Do With It, which tells her life story based on her autobiography I, Tina, scored Bassett a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
Turner had two sons, Craig, with saxophonist Raymond Hill, who died in 2018, and Ronald, with Ike Turner.
She relocated to Switzerland and found love in later life with former EMI record executive Erwin Bach. She said of their relationship: “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.’”
She formally retired in 2009, after her “Tina! 50th Anniversary” tour. “I was just tired of singing and making everybody happy,” she recalled to The New York Times. “That’s all I’d ever done in my life.”
Tina Turner performs during the Grammy awards in 2008. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Beyonce and Tina Turner perform during the Grammys in 2008. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images