Tina Turner death: ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’ singer dies aged 83
Tina Turner, the queen of rock’n’roll behind hits such as “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, has died aged 83.
In a statement shared on Wednesday, a representative for the “Proud Mary” singer announced that she had died at her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland.
“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 Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland,” their statement read.
“With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model... With her music and her inexhaustible vitality, Tina Turner thrilled millions of fans and inspired many artists of subsequent generations.”
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The news of her death sent shockwaves throughout the music industry, with stars including Mick Jagger and Debbie Harry paying tribute.
“I’m so saddened by the passing of my wonderful friend Tina Turner,” Jagger wrote. “She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.”
Harry, meanwhile, referred to herself as “a benefactor of the energy, creativity and talents of Tina Turner”, adding: “Tina was a great inspiration to me when I was starting out and remains so to this day.”
In recent years, Turner had suffered from ill health, having been diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and undergoing a kidney transplant in 2017. A private funeral ceremony will be attended by close friends and family, who have asked for privacy.
Born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee (her hometown would inspire her 1973 song “Nutbush City Limits”) in 1939, Turner became one of the bestselling recording artists of all time in a career spanning more than 60 years. In that time she earned 12 Grammy Awards.
After singing in church choirs as a child, Turner’s career began when she met singer Ike Turner on the St Louis nightclub circuit in 1957. After convincing Ike to let her sing with him, she became a featured vocalist in his band.
Around this time, Turner adopted the name “Tina”, with Ike adding his own surname so that he could replace her should she leave. In 1960, Turner released her first single, “A Fool For Love”, to critical acclaim and partial chart success, and Ike formed the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
The pair married in 1962 and began releasing music together. Everything changed when they began working with Phil Spector, who produced the hit “River Deep – Mountain High” for his label. With a hit record under their belt, Ike and Tina supported the Rolling Stones on tour and gained celebrity fans in David Bowie, Cher and Elvis Presley.
The duo continued a successful streak throughout the Seventies. However, they split in 1976, with Tina later revealing that Ike had been violent and abusive, and had also cheated on her. In her 1986 autobiography, she narrated a harrowing tale of marital abuse, including the fact she had suffered a broken nose at the hands of Ike.
When Ike died in December 2007, Tina’s spokesperson was quoted as saying: “Tina is aware that Ike passed away earlier today. She has not had any contact with him in 35 years. No further comment will be made.”
Following the split, which was finalised in 1978 and left Turner with just two cars and the rights to her stage name, she returned to releasing music as a solo performer.
Even at the height of her career, however, Turner was performing for women in her audience, not to appear sexy to men.
Looking back in a 2018 interview, she said: “We were a sisterhood: me, my dancers, and our audience, out there having a good time together... At my shows, I wanted wives, husbands, grandparents, children, friends, everyone, to have fun. And here’s something I always understood. If you appeal to the women in the audience, the men will follow.”
She enjoyed a career renaissance in the Eighties, recording a string of big-selling hits such as “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, “Private Dancer”, and “Let’s Stay Together”. In 1995, Turner performed the theme for James Bond film GoldenEye.
Other notable duets throughout her career included performances with David Bowie and the Rolling Stones, the latter of whom she took to the stage for Live Aid in Philadelphia in 1985.
During the performance, Jagger famously decided to rip off Turner’s skirt on stage. In an interview last month, Turner admitted that she’d “always had a crush” on the Rolling Stones frontman.
Turner’s autobiography, I, Tina, was adapted for the screen in 1993 as the biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It. Angela Bassett received an Oscar nomination for her performance as Turner.
However, vocal powerhouse Turner also dabbled in acting herself, appearing alongside Mel Gibson in 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1993’s Last Action Hero.
From 1994, Turner lived in Switzerland with her long-term partner, the German music executive Erwin Bach. The pair married in a civil ceremony in 2013.
In her second autobiography, 2018’s Tina Turner: My Love Story, she revealed that Bach saved her life by donating one of his kidneys to her.
She praised her husband in a rare interview in 2022, saying of their marriage: “It has enabled me to accept my mistakes and imperfections, to appreciate both the difficult times and the good times and the hurts of the past to let go. Accepting yourself as you are is true freedom.”
Turner had four children. The oldest, Raymond Craig, was the son of Kings of Rhythm saxophonist Raymond Hill. Turner and Ike later had a son, Ronnie Turner, and she adopted two of Ike’s children from a previous relationship.
In 2018, Craig died from an apparent suicide, aged 59. Then, in December last year, Ronnie died after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Discussing Ronnie’s death, Turner said that her son had “left the world far too early”.
The same year as Craig’s death, an Olivier-nominated musical based on his mother’s life, titled Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, opened on London’s West End in 2018.
In 2005, US president George W Bush described Turner’s legs as “the most famous in showbusiness”, with reports suggesting she insured them for hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 2021, Turner sold the rights to her back catalogue after reaching an agreement with BMG for an undisclosed sum. In the deal, she signed over her share of her recordings, her music publishing writer’s share and her name, image and likeness.
Turner’s solo works include 10 studio albums, two live albums, two soundtracks and five compilations, which together have sold more than 100 million records.