Tina Turner: The Unparalleled Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll

In the realm of music, there are few names that shine as brightly as that of Tina Turner (August 20, 1939 - May 25, 2023). A true icon and a force of nature, Tina Turner captivated audiences around the world with her electrifying performances and unmistakable voice.
Tina Turner

Tina Turner NIA Birmingham © Philip Spittle/ en.wikipedia.org

May 30, 2023 06:24 EDT

Tina Turner’s career spanned over six decades, during which she became one of the most successful and beloved artists of all time. Her incredible achievements include a string of chart-topping hits, legendary live performances, and a legacy that will continue to resonate for generations to come.

Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Nutbush, Tennessee, Tina Turner rose to prominence in the 1960s as the lead vocalist of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. The duo’s energetic live performances and their chart-topping hits such as “River Deep – Mountain High” and “Proud Mary” made them a force to be reckoned with. Tina’s raw talent and boundless energy on stage earned her the title of the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

However, it was during her solo career that Tina Turner truly soared to new heights. In the 1980s, she released her landmark album “Private Dancer,” which featured the unforgettable singles “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Private Dancer,” and “Better Be Good to Me.”. This Grammy-winning album showcased her raw talent. Songs like “Simply the Best,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” and “Steamy Windows” became anthems for fans worldwide, and her live shows sold out stadiums across the globe..

Her marriage to Ike Turner, which ended in divorce in 1978, was marked by turbulent times and personal struggles. However, Tina overcame these challenges and was soon back in the saddle again. Her musical repertoire, informed by her traumatic marriage, was replete with themes of grief, betrayal and rising up from the ashes like a phoenix. Her autobiography, “I, Tina,” later adapted into the film “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” served as a testament to her indomitable spirit and became an inspiration to many.

Life without Ike

Tina’s career continued to flourish with subsequent albums like “Break Every Rule” (1986) and “Foreign Affair” (1989). Her collaboration with Bryan Adams on the hit song “It’s Only Love” further solidified her status as a global sensation. 

Many of Turner’s songs explore the complexities of love and relationships. She delves into themes of passion, heartbreak, desire, and devotion. Songs like “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Private Dancer,” and “I Don’t Wanna Fight” examine the ups and downs of romantic connections and the struggles of maintaining them. Her music frequently touches upon the desire for freedom and independence. Tracks like “River Deep – Mountain High,” “Nutbush City Limits,” and “We Don’t Need Another Hero” reflect a longing for liberation from oppressive situations, or personal limitations. 

And who can forget her role in the cult film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome, in which she co-starred with Mel Gibson as the chain-mail wearing ‘Aunty Entity’, the queen of a post-apocalyptic township named Bartertown. With this iconic role, she redefined the place of a leading woman in a major Hollywood production way back in 1985 when such characterizations were virtually unheard of.

In 1995 she performed the song “GoldenEye” written by Irish musicians Bono and the Edge. The song served as the theme for the James Bond film GoldenEye.

Tina Turner moved to Europe in the mid-1980s. After a successful career in the United States, she met her future husband, a man who was 16 years her junior, the German music executive Erwin Bach, and subsequently settled in Switzerland. She officially became a Swiss citizen in 2013 after residing in the country for many years. Her move to Europe allowed her to enjoy a quieter personal life and also marked a significant phase in her music career. Turner found considerable success and popularity in Europe, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s.

Buddhist enlightenment

Turner publicly announced her conversion to Buddhism in the early 1990s, following a trip to Japan where she encountered the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism. She had openly spoken about how her Buddhist practice served as a source of strength and resilience for her throughout her life. She credited the practice of chanting and studying Buddhist teachings with helping her overcome personal struggles and find inner peace.

Tina’s contributions to the music industry were recognized with numerous accolades throughout her career. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received 12 Grammy awards, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, she became one of the highest selling artists of all time.   

When Angela Bassett, who played Turner in the 1993 biopic “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, heard about her demise, wondered aloud: “How do we say farewell to a woman who owned her pain and trauma and used it as a means to help change the world?” Bassett said that “through her courage in telling her story, her commitment to stay the course in her life, no matter the sacrifice, and her determination to carve out a space in rock and roll for herself and for others who look like her, Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion and freedom should look like.”

She is, and always will be, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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