Tina Turner isn’t just a powerful vocalist. She’s also a symbol: for female independence, for survivors of domestic violence, for the notion that women can have lives in art just as long, varied, and heroic as men do. From her commanding ’60s performances with Ike Turner to the relaxed but hard-bitten sound of 1984’s Private Dancer and “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” Turner’s music maintained an intensity that simmered under the surface even in her quieter moments—proof that soul didn’t have to explode to burn.
Tina Turner, original name Anna Mae Bullock, (born November 26, 1939, Brownsville, Tennessee, U.S.), American-born singer who found success in the rhythm-and-blues, soul, and rock genres in a career that spanned five decades.
Turner was born into a sharecropping family in rural Tennessee. She began singing as a teenager and, after moving to St. Louis, Missouri, immersed herself in the local rhythm-and-blues scene. She met Ike Turner at a performance by his band, the Kings of Rhythm, in 1956, and soon became part of the act. She began performing as Tina Turner, and her electric stage presence quickly made her the centrepiece of the show. The ensemble, which toured as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, was renowned for its live performances but struggled to find recording success. That changed in 1960, when “A Fool in Love” hit the pop charts, and a string of hit singles followed. Ike and Tina were married in 1962, although the date is subject to some speculation (during the couple’s divorce proceedings in 1977, Ike claimed that the two were never legally married). The Phil Spector-produced album River Deep—Mountain High (1966) was a hit in Europe, and its title track is arguably the high point of Spector’s “wall of sound” production style, but it sold poorly in the United States. Ike and Tina’s final hits as a couple were the cover version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” (1971) and “Nutbush City Limits” (1973).
Tina divorced Ike in 1978, alleging years of physical abuse and infidelity. After a series of guest appearances on the albums of other artists, she released her debut solo album, Private Dancer, in 1984. It was a triumph, both critically and commercially, garnering three Grammy Awards and selling more than 20 million copies worldwide. She followed her musical success with a role in the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), and she wrote her autobiography, I, Tina (1986; adapted as the film What’s Love Got to Do with It, 1993). Later albums included Break Every Rule (1986), Foreign Affair (1989), and Wildest Dreams (1996). Her greatest-hits compilation All the Best was released in 2004, and Turner continued touring into the 21st century. Ike and Tina were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
After residing in Switzerland for a number of years, Turner became a Swiss citizen in 2013 and shortly thereafter submitted the paperwork to relinquish her U.S. citizenship.