Tina Turner obituary: The woman who taught Mick Jagger to dance
With her soulful hits and commanding stage presence, Tina Turner secured her status as the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ with a catalog of powerful hits that showcased her boundless energy and gravelly vocals.
And she achieved her international stardom in the face of a difficult upbringing in a farming community in Tennessee and abusive relationships, with both her father and also guitarist Ike Turner.
Her unique talents, which won her 12 Grammy Awards and sold 200 million albums worldwide, would go on to inspire some of today’s most successful artists – including Beyoncé and Rihanna.
And she’s also been credited with teaching Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger how to dance – revealing to the Daily Mail in 2017 that she taught him the pony move in the 1960s.
Turner died peacefully after a long illness at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, her representative said.
Turner died peacefully after a long illness at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, her representative said
Tina used her strong voice and practiced dance routines hard as lead singer in an ensemble called the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. The two were married in Mexico in 1962. Taken in 1975, three years before their divorce
In 1985, Turner met the German music executive Erwin Bach who became her long-term partner. She married Bach in July 2013, renounced her US citizenship and became a citizen of Switzerland
Turner began her career in the 1950s during the early years of rock and roll and developed into an MTV phenomenon.
In the video for her chart-topping song ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’, in which she called love a ‘second-hand emotion’, Turner personified 1980s style as she strutted through the streets of New York with her spiky blonde hair stepped on, wearing a cropped jean jacket, mini skirt and stiletto heels.
With her taste for musical experimentation and bluntly worded ballads, Turner gelled perfectly with a 1980s pop landscape in which music fans valued electronically produced sounds and disdained hippie-era idealism.
Sometimes nicknamed the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ Turner won six of her eight Grammy Awards in the 1980s. In the decade, she landed a dozen songs on the Top 40, including ‘Typical Male’, ‘The Best’, ‘Private Dancer’ and ‘Better Be Good to Me’. Her 1988 show in Rio de Janeiro drew 180,000 people, which remains one of the largest concert audiences for any single artist.
By then Turner had been free from her marriage to guitarist Ike Turner for a decade.
The superstar was coming out about the abuse she suffered from her ex-husband during their marriage and musical partnership in the 1960s and 1970s. She described bruised eyes, broken lips, a broken jaw and other injuries that repeatedly sent her to the emergency room.
“Tina’s story is not one of victimhood, but one of incredible triumph,” singer Janet Jackson wrote of Turner, in a Rolling Stone issue that placed Turner at number 63 on a list of the top 100 artists of all times.
“She turned herself into an international sensation — an elegant powerhouse,” Jackson said.
Turner in the 1960s
Tina Turner poses for a portrait at home in December 1984 in Los Angeles, California
Turner at a White House reception in December 2005
In 1985, Turner gave a fictional twist to her reputation as a survivor. She played the ruthless leader of an outpost in a nuclear wasteland and acted opposite Mel Gibson in the third installment in the Mad Max series, ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.’
Most of Turner’s hit songs were written by others, but she spiced them up with a voice that New York Times music critic Jon Pareles called “one of the more peculiar instruments in pop.”
“It’s three-tiered, with a nasal low register, a howling, cutting midrange, and a high register so startlingly clear it sounds like a falsetto,” Pareles wrote in a 1987 concert review.
She was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in the rural Tennessee community of Nutbush, which she described in her 1973 song ‘Nutbush City Limits’ as a ‘quiet little old community, a one-horse town’ .
Her father worked as an overseer on a farm and her mother left the family when the singer was 11 years old, according to the singer’s 2018 memoir ‘My Love Story’. As a teenager she went to St. Louis moves to rejoin her mother.
Ike Turner, whose 1951 song ‘Rocket 88’ has often been called the first rock and roll record, discovered her at the age of 17 when she grabbed the microphone to sing at his club show in St. Louis in 1957 to sing.
The bandleader later recorded a hit song, ‘A Fool In Love’, with his protégé and gave her the stage name Tina Turner, before the pair married in Tijuana, Mexico.
Mick Jagger and Tina Turner in 1987
Tina used her strong voice and practiced dance routines hard as lead singer in an ensemble called the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. She collaborated with members of rock royalty in the 1960s and 1970s, including The Who and Phil Spector, and appeared on the cover of issue two of Rolling Stone magazine in 1967.
Ike and Tina Turner bounced between record labels, owing much of their commercial success to a relentless touring schedule. Their biggest hit was a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary’.
Turner left her husband on a tour stop in Dallas one night in 1976 after he pushed her during a car ride and she hit back, according to her memoir. Their divorce was finalized in 1978.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted Ike and Tina Turner in 1991, calling them “one of the most formidable live acts in history.” Ike Turner died in 2007.
After leaving her husband, Turner struggled for years to regain the spotlight, releasing solo albums and singles that flopped and gigging at corporate conferences.
In 1980 she met new manager Roger Davies, an Australian music executive who managed her for three decades. This led to a solo No.1 – ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ – and then her album ‘Private Dancer’ landed her at the top of the charts in 1984.
‘Private Dancer’ became Turner’s biggest album, the capstone of a career that has sold her more than 200 million records in total.
In 1985 Turner met the German music performer Erwin Bach who became her long-term partner and in 1988 she moved to London and began a decade-long residency in Europe. She released two studio albums in the 1990s that sold well, especially in Europe, recorded the theme song for the 1995 Bond movie ‘GoldenEye’ and performed a successful world tour in 2008 and 2009.
After that she retired from show business. She married Bach, renounced her American citizenship and became a citizen of Switzerland.
She battled a number of health problems after retirement and in 2018 she faced a family tragedy when her eldest son, Craig, took his own life at the age of 59 in Los Angeles. Her younger son Ronnie died in December 2022.
Her name continues to draw audiences years after her retirement. Musical stage show ‘TINA: The Tina Turner Musical’, with Adrienne Warren initially acting and singing the star’s life story, was first a hit in London’s West End in 2018, and later on Broadway, and is still running. And in 2021, HBO released a documentary about her life, “Tina.”
She is survived by Bach and two sons of Ike whom she adopted.
Tina Turner obituary: The woman who taught Mick Jagger to dance