Grammy award-winning, iconic musician Tina Turner died of natural causes on May 24th, 2023 in her Swiss home. We remember Ms. Tina Turner for her talent, as the singer of “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “The Best,” and “We Don’t Need Another One.” She was known for her wild, husky, and energetic voice and her famous spiky blonde locks–and she was a symbol of power. Ms. Turner was known as the “Queen of Rock and Roll” but also performed soul and pop-synth music. Ms.Tina Turner released her debut solo album, Private Dancer, in 1984. It was a critical and commercial success that sold more than 20 million copies internationally and won three Grammy Awards. But most significantly, we remember Ms. Turner for her resilience.
With a life of loss, trauma, and triumph, she has lived through the Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights Movement, domestic violence, and more. To start, Ms.Tina Turner was born in 1939 in Tennessee as Anna Mae Bullock, to sharecropper parents. After performing in choirs, at age 16, she moved to Missouri to pursue a singing career.
In Missouri, Tina Turner met her ex-husband, Ike Turner, when she joined his band the Kings of Rhythm. They performed songs such as “A Fool in Love” and “Nutbush City Limits” together. Her career started in the 1960s, during the Civil Rights era, and later bloomed into a solo journey after her 1978 separation from her husband. Ike was physically, verbally, and psychologically abusive toward Tina Turner during their 16-year marriage. Ike was dictatorial and his violent outbursts and turbulent relationship with illicit drugs impaled his relationship with his partner. Moreover, he sexually assaulted Ms. Turner and contested the legality of their marriage; in order to torture her and justify his multiple infidelities.
A name is an identity. Ike Turner had Tina Turner’s name trademarked so that a replacement performer could use the name should she leave the band. Tina Turner won the battle to keep her stage name. Tina was able to find love again, a healthy love, with her husband Swiss-German music executive, Erwin Bach. She wrote a memoir, My Love Story dedicated to her late son and her love. Tina Turner was a loving mother with a total of four children in her lifetime.
Tina Turner was a voice for the voiceless. She was one of the first high-profile celebrities to go public about her domestic violence and inspired survivors to prioritize their health and leave abusive relationships. In 1993, when asked in an interview with Vanity Fair what she had stood up for, Tina Turner’s response was: “I stood up for my life.”
“I was living a life of death,” she said to People Magazine as highlighted in the 2021 HBO documentary Remembering Tina Turner. “I didn’t exist. But I survived it. And when I walked out…I didn’t look back.”
The 1993 drama film What’s Love Got to Do With It, starring Angela Bassett depicts Tina Turner’s tumultuous relationship with Ike Turner and her move towards independence.
The Tina Turner Musical, endorsed by Ms. Turner herself, had partnered with Women’s Aid to support domestic violence survivors. Ms. Turner was a philanthropist who supported organizations such as the Caudwell Foundation which provides arts facilities to disabled children. Known for her talent, resilience, inspirational attributes, and love, Tina Turner will surely be missed.
BlackDoctor.org. (2023). Tina Turner: A Lifelong Journey of Love & Triumph. BlackDoctor.org. https://blackdoctor.org/tina-turner-accomplishments/2/
Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2023, May 26). Tina Turner. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Tina-Turner
Grimes, W. NY Times (2023, May 24). Tina Turner: Magnetic Singer of Explosive Power, Dead at 83. NY Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/24/arts/music/tina-turner-dead.html
Peplow, G. Sky News. (2023, May 25). How Tina Turner inspired domestic violence survivors – but never let abuse define her. Sky News. https://news.sky.com/story/how-tina-turner-inspired-domestic-violence-survivors-but-never-let-abuse-define-her-12889335