Legendary singer Tina Turner, whose 60-year career earned her the title Queen of Rock n’ Roll, passed away at the age 83.
Turner died Wednesday, May 24, after a long illness at her home near Zurich in Switzerland, her publicist Bernard Doherty confirmed in a statement.
"Tina Turner, the 'Queen of Rock'n Roll' has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model. There will be a private funeral ceremony attended by close friends and family. Please respect the privacy of her family at this difficult time,” the statement read.
Since 1994 the American-born singer had been living in Switzerland with her husband, German actor and music producer Erwin Bach, earning her Swiss citizenship in 2013.
In recent years Tina battled a number of serious health problems, including a stroke, intestinal cancer and total kidney failure that required an organ transplant.
Boasting one of the longest careers in rock history, Turner scored Billboard Top 40 hits across four decades, earning her Grammys, a Kennedy Center Honor, and entry into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Born Anna Mae Bullock on Nov. 26, 1939 in the town of Nutbush, Tennessee, Turner began singing in a Baptist church choir. At the age 11, her mother left home in an effort to flee her abusive husband. When Turner was a teen, her father married another woman and left the state, leaving Turner and her sisters in the care of her grandmother.
Turner would meet her future husband Ike in the late 1950s, when he was performing on the St. Louis club circuit with his band, Kings of Rhythm. He was 25 years old, and Turner was just 17.
Tina became a member of the band, and after a relationship with the sax player, Raymond Hill — which resulted in the birth of her first son, Craig, in 1958 — her association with Ike took a romantic turn.
Turner's incendiary singing, glittery stage-wear and seemingly inexhaustible energy as the frontwoman for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue made her and her then-husband one of the most electrifying acts of the 1960s, serving up high octane covers of "Proud Mary," "Come Together," and "I Want to Take You Higher."
Even when she became pregnant with his child, business was never far from his mind. After the band's first studio recording with Tina netted Ike $25,000, he sensed an opportunity that had nothing to do with love.
“My relationship with Ike was doomed the day he figured out I was going to be his money-maker. He needed to control me, economically and psychologically, so I could never leave him,” Tina later wrote.
Turner's early years with Ike was brutal. Ike subjected her to acts of physical and psychological abuse. Her survival and harrowing escape was dramatized in the 1993 film What's Love Got to Do with It starring Angela Bassett.
Following years of torment, Turner famously fled her husband in 1976 with nothing but a Mobil card and 36 cents in her pocket. She made her escape while the pair were on tour, staying at the Statler Hilton in Dallas, Texas.
Despite the immense risk, Turner never looked back.
“I walked out without anything and had to make it on my own for my family and everyone so I just went back to work for myself.
“I told the judge, 'It's only blood money. I want nothing,' I did have one request. I wanted to continue using the name 'Tina Turner,' which Ike owned. I walked out of that courtroom with the name Tina Turner and my two Jaguars, one from Sammy Davis, Jr. and one from Ike, and that's it. Considering my age, 39, my gender, my color, and the times we lived in, everything was strong winds against me."
Ike Turner died on December 12, 2007 at the age of 76, at his home in San Marcos, California.
Tina came back stronger than ever. The '80s would see her score hits like "What's Love Got to Do with It," "Private Dancer," and "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)." Her 1984 solo disc "Private Dancer" earned four Grammy Awards and eventually sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Her success continued through the '90s, during which time Turner released a pair of high-selling albums, sang the theme to the James Bond film GoldenEye, and was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2008 she announced that her Tina! 50th Anniversary Tour would also be her last, and from that point on she largely retired from the music industry. She began to focus more on her private life, notably her relationship with German actor and music producer Erwin Bach. After decades together, the pair married in 2013.
In 2018, she made one of her last public appearances, dropping in at the premiere of the London musical based on her life story, Tina, which details every turbulent moment of her 50-year singing career.
Most recently, she was interviewed in an HBO documentary, which was released in March 2021.
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