music / News

Music Icon Tina Turner Passes Away

May 24, 2023 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Tina Turner Image Credit: Capitol

One of the most legendary voices in the history of popular music has left us in Tina Turner. The New York Times has confirmed that Turner, known as the Queen of Rock & Roll, passed away on Wednesday in her Küsnacht, Switzerland home. Turner had battled several illnesses in recent years, and a statement by her family said that she died peacefully after a long illness. She was 83.

Turner was one of the most enduring voices of popular music and transcended genres; she did blues, soul music, R&B, rock & roll, pop, funk, and other genres during her career. Known as an explosive live act, she survived a near career-ending split from Ike Turner in the mid-1970s to stage a major comeback that launched her to new heights of popularity and become one of the best-selling musical artists of all-time with estimates of over 100 million records sold.

Turner’s career began in 1957 when she met Ike Turner and asked to sing in his band, despite the fact that he rarely let women do so. When Ike said he would call but never did, she got hold of the microphone at a show and sang a B.B. King ballad. Turner became a featured singer in Ike’s band and learned the nuances of performing from there. They married in 1962.

Tina and Ike’s association sent both of them to success in the 1960s and 1970s, with iconic songs like “River Deep – Mountain High,” “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” “Proud Mary” and “Nutbush City Limits.” The Ike & Tina Turner Revue toured extensively and became known as one of the hottest R&B groups in the country. They became household names based due in part to performances on TV shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and The Andy Williams Show, and won a Grammy for “Proud Mary” in 1972.

During their time together Ike was abusive to Turner, which ultimately led to her leaving him in 1976 after a physical altercation on the way to a gig in Dallas. Turner left with only 36 cents and a mobile card. She filed for divorce that year, which was finalized in 1978. Lawsuits related to cancelled Ike & Tina gigs led to debt, and she began touring again to pay those off. She released solo albums, but her career took a hit and by 1983 she was largely viewed as a novelty act.

It was a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” that led to her career revival. The cover became a surprise hit and paved the way for Capitol Records to greenlight a new album for Turner. That album was Private Dancer, released in May of 1984. The LP, which included such hits as the title track and “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” revitalized her career and led to three Grammy wins.

Turner continued on from there to find new heights to stardom. She co-starred in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome with Mel Gibson and recorded the theme song “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” as well as “One of the Living,” the latter of which earned Turner her fifth Grammy Award. Two years later in 1988, she set the Guinness World Record for largest paying concert attendance for a solo artist when 180,000 people saw her perform in Rio de Janeiro.

Ike & Turner were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, though Ike was unable to attend as he was in prison for cocaine possession. The 1990s saw her continue touring, and the biopic about her life What’s Love Got To Do With It released in 1993 where she was played by Angela Bassett. Bassett was nominated for Best Actress in a star-making turn. She also recorded and released the theme song for the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye and released the album Wildest Dreams in 1996. Her tenth and final solo album, Twenty Four Seven, released in 1999.

Turner’s career slowed down at that point, though she remained on the charts through albums like the greatest hits set All Her Best in 2004. She returned to touring in 2009 with the Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour, which became one of the best-selling tours of all time.

All in all, Turner had eight Grammy award wins out of 25 nominations, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2021.

On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends, and many fans of Tina Turner. Popular music would not have been the same without her.

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Tina Turner, Jeremy Thomas