R.I.P. Tina Turner

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The Guardian reports that rock and soul legend Tina Turner has died in Switzerland after a long illness. She was 83. Turner had recently been in ill health, having been diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016, and receiving a kidney transplant in 2017. Turner’s family said in a statement, “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

Born Anna Mae Bullock in Tennessee in 1939, Turner sang in Nutbush’s Spring Hill Baptist Church before moving to St. Louis with her sister in 1957. She began frequenting local nightclubs, where she met musician Ike Turner, who performed with his band Kings of Rhythm. Turner initially declined when Bullock asked to join his group, but had a change of heart after hearing her sing B.B. King’s “You Know I Love You” after grabbing the mic during one of their performances.

Ike suggested Tina as a stage name, and she released her first single “A Fool in Love” in 1960. They then launched the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, which became a successful and hard-working touring live band. At this time they had also become romantically involved, with Ike becoming abusive early on. Nonetheless, they got married in 1962 and continued to perform together for the next 16 years, releasing 21 albums and receiving a Grammy for “Proud Mary.” During that time, Ike Turner’s abuse and cocaine addiction worsened and the two eventually divorced in 1978.

Turner had launched her own solo career while still with Ike, however, releasing her debut Tina Turns the Country On! in 1974. She made a huge comeback in 1984 with Private Dancer, which featured hit songs such as the title track and “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” It sold over 5 million copies in the U.S. alone, and became one of the defining albums of the 1980s.

A hugely influential artist, Turner inspired artists as legendary as Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, and she was both the first Black artist and first female artist on the cover of Rolling Stone. She’s also considered the most successful female artist in rock music, having sold over 60 million records worldwide.

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