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Celebrated in the 1960s for her dynamic performances with her first husband Ike, she became a sensation as a recording artist, often expressing her personal issues in her songs.
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Tina Turner, the earth-shattering singer whose sultry vocals, sex appeal and explosive energy made her an unforgettable live performer and one of the most successful artists of all time, died Wednesday at her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland , near Zurich. It was 83.
Her publicist, Bernard Doherty, announced the death in a statement, but did not give a cause. He suffered a stroke in recent years and is known to have suffered from kidney disease and other ailments.
Ms. Turner began her fifty-year career in the late 1950s, while still in high school, when she began singing with Ike Turner and his band, the Kings of Rhythm. At first she only played occasionally, but she soon became the group's main attraction - and Mr Turner's wife. With her strong, bluesy voice and frenetic dance style, she made an instant impression.
Their ensemble, soon renamed the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, became one of the top soul touring black venues on the so-called chitlin' circuit. After the Rolling Stones invited the group to open for them, first on a British tour in 1966 and then on an American tour in 1969, white listeners in both countries began to take notice.
Ms. Turner, who insisted on including Beatles and Stones rock songs in her repertoire, reached a huge new audience and gave the Ike and Tina Turner revue their first Top 10 hit with her version of Creedence Clearwater Revival."Proud Mary"in 1971 and a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group.
"In the context of today's show business, Tina Turner has to be the most impressive professional performer," wrote Ralph J. Gleason, the influential jazz and pop critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, in a review of a Rolling Stones concert in Oakland in November 1969. “It's coming like a hurricane. He dances and twists, shakes and sings and the result is immediate and absolute."
But if Ike and Tina Turner's revue was a success, Ike and Tina Turner's wedding was not. Mr. Turner was offensive. After avoiding marriage in her 30s, her career stalled. But her 1984 solo album, Private Dancer, brought her back into the limelight - and propelled her into the pop stratosphere.
Collaborating with younger songwriters and backed by a smooth, synth sound that brilliantly wrapped her rough, soulful vocals, she delivered three mammoth hits:the theme song, written by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits?"You better be good to me"; And"What has love got to do with her."
About the "innovative fusion of old-fashioned soul vocals and new wave synth-pop", Stephen Holden said:in a reviewThe New York Times called the album "a landmark not only in the career of the 45-year-old singer, who has been recording since the late 1950s, but also in the evolution of pop-soul music itself."
At the 1985 Grammy Awards, "What's Love Got to Do With It" won three awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and "Better Be Good To Me" won Best Female Rock - vocal interpretation. .
The album sold five million copies and sparked a touring career that made Ms. Turner a global phenomenon. In 1988, he performed to a crowd of approximately 180,000 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, breaking a record for the largest paid audience by a solo artist. After her "Twenty Four Seven" tour sold more than $100 million in tickets in 2000, Guinness World Records announced that she had sold more concert tickets than any other solo artist in history.
Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in Brownsville, Tennessee, northeast of Memphis, and spent her early years on the Poindexter farm in Nutbush, an unincorporated area nearby, where she sang in the Spring Hill Baptist Church Choir.
Floyd's father, known by his middle name Richard, worked as a farm overseer - "We were rich farmers," Ms Turner told Rolling Stone in 1986 - and had a rocky relationship with his wife Zelma (Carrie) Bullock.
Her parents left Anna and her older sister, Aline, with relatives while working at a military installation in Knoxville during World War II. The family was reunited after the war, but Zelma left her husband a few years later and Anna went to live with her grandmother in Brownsville.
After returning to her mother in St. Louis, she attended Sumner High School there. She and Aline began frequenting the Manhattan Club on East St. Louis, Illinois to hear Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm.
“I wanted to go up there and singoooooooobad," Ms. Turner recalled in I, Tina: My Life Story (1986), written with Kurt Loder. "But that took a whole year."
One night, during a band break, drummer Eugene Washington handed her the microphone and began singing B.B.'s song. "You Know I Love You". King, which was produced by Mr. Turner. "When Ike heard me he said 'Oh my God!' she told People magazine in 1981. "She couldn't believe the voice was coming from that frail little body."
In his book Takin' Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner (1999), which he co-wrote with Nigel Cawthorne, Mr. Turner wrote: "I would write songs with Little Richard in mind, but I didn't." Little Richard, to sing them, so Tina was my Little Richard. Listen carefully Tina and who are you listening to? Little Richard sings with a female voice."
Mr. Turner used her as a singer, known as Little Ann, on his record in 1958"In the box".When Art Lassiter, the group's lead singer, failed to appear at his recording session"A Fool in Love"Jump in. The record was a big hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard R&B chart and #27 on the pop chart.
Mr Turner gave his protégé - who was now his romantic partner - a new name, Tina, inspired by TV character Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. And he renamed the group the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
It was a dynamic, disciplined ensemble, second only to James Brown's revue, but never achieved significant crossover success until Proud Mary. Up to that point, the group had only one single in the US Pop Top 20, 1961's "It's Gonna Work Out Fine." However, the group achieved several hits, mostly on the R&B charts"I adore you" "It'll be fine"And"Between La La La La"Most of his earnings, however, came from a relentless touring schedule.
Mrs Turner's relationship with Mr Turner, whom she married on a brief trip to Tijuana, Mexico in 1962, was tumultuous. He was dictatorial, sometimes violent and hopelessly addicted to cocaine since the 1970s. She left him in 1976 with 36 cents and a Mobil gas card in her pocket and divorced him two years later.Passed awaycocaine overdose in 2007;
“When I left, I was living a dying life,” she told People in 1981. “I didn't exist. I wasn't afraid that he would kill me when I left because I was already dead. When I got out, I didn't look back."
Their marriage provided much of the material for the 1993 film What's Love Got To Do With It, starring Angela Basset and Laurence Fishburne. Ms. Turner re-recorded some of her hits and a new song,"I don't want to fight"for the film, but otherwise declined to participate. "Why would I want to see Ike Turner hit me again?" he said at the time.
A second career
In 1966 he became a record producerPhil SpectorAfter hearing Ike and Tina Turner's revue at the Galaxy Club in Los Angeles, they offered $20,000 to produce their next song on the condition that Mr. Turner stay out of the studio. The result,«Flusstief, berghoch»is often regarded as the culmination of Mr. Spector's patented "interruption." It failed in the United States, briefly reaching the top 100, but was a huge success in the UK, where it marked the beginning of a second career for Ms Turner.
"I loved that song," she wrote in her memoir in 1986. "Because for the first time in my life, it wasn't just R&B—it had structure, it had melody." She added, "I was a singer and I knew I could do other things. I just never got the chance. 'River Deep' showed people what I'm made of."
After leaving her debt-ridden marriage, Ms Turner struggled to build a solo career appearing in ill-conceived cabaret shows before signing with Roger Davies, his managerOlivia Newton-John, in 1979. Under Mr. Davies' direction, she returned to the gritty, gritty rock style that had made her a crossover star and one of the concert scene's most enduring performers for decades to come.
Her fellow artists noticed. In 1982, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh of the band and production company British Electric Foundation recruited them to record the Temptations' 1970 hit."Ball of Confusion"for an album of soul and rock arrangements, with synthesizers. The success led to a second collaboration, an Al Green remake"Let's stay together."It was a surprise hit in the US and UK and the turning point that led to Private Dancer.
Ms. Turner followed the smash hit of Private Dancer with two more hit albums, Break Every Rule (1986) and Foreign Affair (1989), which featured the single."The best."
It also made an impression on the screen. Ten years after she cemented her rock 'n' roller persona with a thrilling performance as...acid queenIn the film adaptation of Ken Russell's rock opera "Tommy," she won critical acclaim for her portrayal of Aunt Entity, the iron ruler of post-apocalyptic Bartertown, in 1985's Mad Max.
This film also gave her two more hit singles:We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" And"One of the Living"which won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 1986 Grammys.
In 1991, she and Mr. Turner, who was then in prison for cocaine possession, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. (Reinstated as a solo artist in 2021.) In 2005, he received a Kennedy Center Honor and a 2018 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1985 she began a relationship with German music executive Erwin Bach, whom she married in 2013 after moving to Küsnacht with him and becoming a Swiss citizen. He lives it more. Ron, her only child with Mr Turner, died of complications from colon cancer in 2022. Another son, Craig, from her relationship with Kings of Rhythm saxophonist Raymond Hill, took his own life in 2018. Her sister , Allyn Bullock, died in 2010. Mrs. Turner raised Mr. Turner's two children, Ike Jr. and Michael.
Complete information on their survivors was not immediately available.
After releasing the album Twenty Four Seven in 1999 at the age of 60 and touring to promote it, Ms Turner announced her retirement. It didn't last. After performing with Beyoncé at the Grammy Awards in 2008, she embarked on an international tour to celebrate her 50 years in the music industry.
A few years later she again announced her retirement, but remained active elsewhere. In 2018, she released her second memoir, My Love Story.
She and Mr. Bach were executive producers of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, a stage play based on her life and many of her hits, which opened in London in 2018 and in Hamburg and Broadway in 2019. Ms. Turner worked with the show's choreographer and shared her memories with the writers.
Although reviews were mixed, the musical received twelve Tony Award nominations. Adrienne Warren, who played Mrs. Turner, won the award for best actress. "In a show that's part possession, part practice and part wig," says Jesse Greenwrote in a reviewfor the Times: "Adrienne Warren shakes the rafters and dispels your doubts that anyone dares step into the diva's heels."
The show closed after four months due to the pandemic lockdown, reopening in October 2021 before closing again a year later and going on tour. There are currently two productions: one on tour in the US and one in London.
Turner's music has survived it all.
“My music doesn't sound dated. he's still going strong," he told the Daily Mail in 2008. "As am I."
May 24, 2023
An earlier version of this obituary misstated where Ms. Turner attended high school. As correctly noted elsewhere, this was St. Louis - not East St. Louis, Ill.
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