Tina Turner, queen of rock ‘n’ roll, dies after long illness

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USA TODAY

Tina Turner, the musical behemoth and pioneering soul-turned-rock star, has died at age 83.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame icon died at her home in Switzerland after a long illness, according to a statement on her official social media accounts.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner … Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music,” reads the statement.

For many years, Turner has lived a reclusive life while battling ill health, including a stroke in 2013, intestinal cancer in 2016 and a kidney transplant in 2017.

Throughout her career, Turner’s life was one of musical greatness and personal trauma, as she fled an abusive relationship with her musical mentor and first husband, Ike Turner, to achieve unlikely pop stardom in the ’80s with “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

A native of Nutbush, Tennessee, the woman born Anna Mae Bullock began her singing career early – singing in the choir at Nutbush’s Spring Hill Baptist Church.

But it was seeing Ike Turner perform with his Kings of Rhythm band in 1957 that ignited Turner’s professional passion and unleashed her husky, seductive voice.

As the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, the pair stormed the charts for 15 years with robust soul-rockers “River Deep-Mountain High,” “Nutbush City Limits” and a Grammy-winning rendition of John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary.”

Turner fled from Ike in 1976, with only a gas credit card and some change to her name and spent the next several years making appearances on shows such as “The Hollywood Squares” and performing in Las Vegas cabarets.

Along with her signature look of a shock of teased hair, denim miniskirts that displayed her toned legs and a fierce gaze, Turner will also always be revered for her remarkable comeback at the age of 44.

A cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” arrived in 1983, peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and exploded in Europe.

Her record label was reluctant to push her music and considered her a nostalgia act. But Turner proved her mettle, recording “Private Dancer” in a two-week span and with it, a triumphant return with her only No. 1 single, “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

The song earned a record of the year Grammy Award and Tuner the status of being the (then) oldest woman to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Turner’s recording career continued to thrive into the 1990s with albums “Break Every Rule,” “Foreign Affair” and “Wildest Dreams” while cultivating a younger audience with flashy videos for hits including “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome),” “Typical Male” and “Better Be Good to Me.”

Turner’s talents expanded beyond music. She also worked in films, making an appearance in the big screen version of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy” in 1975 and starring with Mel Gibson in “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” in 1985.

Turner was renowned for her sexy, elastic dance moves on stage – notably influencing Mick Jagger – and she toured relentlessly. Her outing to support “Private Dancer” played 180 dates in 1984, while subsequent tours filled arenas and stadiums worldwide.

In 2008-09, Turner took one final lap around the globe with Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour, which was her last major public outing.

During her second induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021 (she was inducted with Ike Turner in 1991) for her solo work, Turner received the accolade remotely.

Turner’s layered life led to a series of retrospectives over the years, including her 1986 revelatory memoir, “I, Tina” (turned into the 1993 film, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”); the acclaimed jukebox musical, “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” which earned a Tony Award for Adrienne Warren’s portrayal of Turner and is still touring after closing on Broadway in 2022; and the 2021 documentary, “Tina.”

In addition to her nine career Grammy Awards (eight as a solo artist and one with Ike), Turner was also recognized with a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005, as well as three Grammy Hall of Fame awards in 1999, 2003 and 2012, and a 2018 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.