The world lost a legend on Wednesday, when rock and soul icon tina turner died at her home in Switzerland at the age of 83. Known for her sexy stage moves and raspy voice, Turner became one of the most iconic musicians of all time with global hits like “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “Private Dancer,” as well as three decades of sold-out stadium tours. However, behind the glossy allure of her career was a life filled with unimaginable pain and heartbreak.
The iconic singer was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in Brownsville, Tennessee, and spent her early years working on her family’s farm. She was a shy girl who had no desire to be in the spotlight, but her powerful singing voice and natural beauty brought her great success as a backup singer with Ike Turner’s band The Kings of Rhythm. Their marriage lasted until 1976, when she filed for divorce and claimed that Ike had physically and emotionally abused her, and she went on to enjoy a successful solo career.
In 1984, Tina recorded her breakthrough album Private Dancer, propelling her to international superstardom with a showstopping performance at the Grammy Awards that included a dazzling rendition of “Proud Mary.” Her success continued to grow, and she earned a record 12 Grammy nominations over the course of her career.
Turner toured the world with her signature electric shows and became the face of women’s rights in the late 1970s, inspiring activists across the globe to fight for equality. Her sexy stage moves and powerful voice made her a worldwide symbol of freedom and empowerment.
She also appeared in a number of movies and TV shows, including the Oscar-winning films What’s Love Got To Do With It and American Graffiti, as well as the HBO series The Godfather Part III and The Departed. In 2018, she published a memoir, revealing that she had a number of health problems, including cancer, a stroke, and kidney failure. Her second husband, Erwin Bach, donated a kidney to her in 2017, which saved her life.
Despite her many ups and downs, Turner continued to work hard and stay true to herself. She retired from performing in the late ’90s and ’00s, but kept busy as an active steward of her own legacy. A jukebox musical based on her life, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, premiered on Broadway in 2019, and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2021. She was a practising Buddhist and lived out her final years in Switzerland with her husband, Erwin Bach, who donated the kidney that saved her life in 2017. She leaves behind an enduring legacy of music, activism, and unstoppable strength.