Unstoppable singer and performing artist Tina Turner has died at 83

By HILLEL ITALY (national AP writer)

NEW YORK (AP) — Tina Turner, the unstoppable singer and performer who teamed up with her husband Ike Turner for a dynamic string of hit records and live shows in the 1960s and 1970s and survived her horrible marriage to triumphing in middle age with the chart-topping “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, died at 83.

Turner died Tuesday after a long illness at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, according to her manager. She became a Swiss citizen ten years ago.

Few stars have traveled this far – she was born Anna Mae Bullock in a separate hospital in Tennessee and spent her final years in a 260,000 square foot estate on Lake Zurich – and overcome so much. Physically battered, emotionally devastated and financially ruined by her 20-year relationship with Ike Turner, she became a single-handed superstar in her 40s, at a time when most of her peers were on the verge of falling out, and remained l one of the best gigs for years after.

With admirers ranging from Beyoncé to Mick Jagger, Turner was one of the world’s most successful artists, known for a core of pop, rock, and rhythm and blues favorites: ‘Proud Mary’, ‘Nutbush City Limits’, ‘River Deep, Mountain High”, and the hits she had in the 80s, including “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and a cover of “Let’s Stay Together” from ‘Al Green.

Her trademarks were her growling contralto, her bold smile and strong cheekbones, her palette of wigs and the muscular, fast legs she was not shy about showing off. She has sold over 150 million records worldwide, won 12 Grammys, was inducted with Ike into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 (and alone in 2021) and was honored at the Kennedy Center in 2005, with Beyoncé and Oprah. Winfrey among those who praise her. Her life became the basis for a movie, a Broadway musical and an HBO documentary in 2021 that she called her public farewell.

Until she left her husband and revealed their story, she was known as the voracious on-stage foil to Ike, the leading lady of the ‘Ike and Tina Turner Revue’. Ike was billed first and ran the show, choosing material, arrangements, backing vocals. They toured constantly for years, partly because Ike often ran out of money and didn’t want to miss a gig. Tina Turner was forced to continue with bronchitis, pneumonia, with a collapsed right lung.

Other times, the cause of his misfortunes was Ike himself.

As she recounted in her memoir, “I, Tina,” Ike started hitting her soon after they met, in the mid-1950s, and only got more vicious. Provoked by anything and anyone, he would throw hot coffee in her face, choke her or beat her until her eyes were swollen, then rape her. Before a show, he broke her jaw and she took to the stage with her mouth full of blood.

Terrified of both being with Ike and being without him, she credits her burgeoning Buddhist faith in the mid-1970s with giving her a sense of strength and self-esteem and she eventually leaves early. July 1976. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue was set to open a tour marking the country’s bicentennial when Tina escaped from their Dallas hotel room, with just a Mobil credit card and 36 cents, while Ike slept. She dashed onto a nearby highway, narrowly avoiding a speeding truck, and found another hotel to stay.

“I looked at him (Ike) and thought, ‘You just beat me for the last time, you motherfucker,'” she recalled in her memoir.

Turner was among the first celebrities to speak out about domestic violence, becoming a hero for battered women and a symbol of resilience for all. Ike Turner didn’t deny abusing her, although he tried to blame Tina for their troubles. When he died in 2007, a rep for his ex-wife said simply, “Tina is aware that Ike is deceased.”

Not much was obvious to Ike and Tina’s many fans. The Turners were a hot band for much of the 1960s and into the ’70s, moving from bluesy ballads such as “A Fool in Love” and “It’s Going to Work Out Fine” to flashy covers of “Proud Mary and “Come Together”. and other rock songs that brought them crossover success.

They opened for the Rolling Stones in 1966 and 1969, and were seen performing a lustful version of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” in the 1970 Stones documentary “Gimme Shelter.” Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett gave Oscar-nominated performances as Ike and Tina in the 1993 film “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” based on “I, Tina,” but she would say reliving her years with Ike was in so much pain that she couldn’t bring herself to watch the movie).

Ike and Tina’s reworking of “Proud Mary”, originally a tight, mid-tempo hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival, helped define their assertive sexual image. Against the backdrop of funky guitar and Ike’s baritone crooner, Tina began with some spoken words about how some people wanted to hear “nice and easy” songs.


Associated Press writer Hilary Fox contributed to this report.


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