People We Love: Tina Turner

Nobody does it like Tina!

When you hear the phrase What’s love gotta do with it? you instinctively think of Grammy Award winning superstar Tina Turner and her timeless song. The truly iconic singer was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26th in Nutbush, Tennessee. She didn’t grow up in affluent wealth her parents Floyd and Zelma Bullock were described as poor sharecroppers in the time of slavery. They eventually split up leaving Tina Turner and her sister to be raised by their grandparents. When her grandmother died in the 1950s Tina moved to St Louis, Missouri, to be with her mother.

In was in Missouri she found her musical calling as a teenager emerging herself into the R&B scene spending a lot of time at Club Manhattan. It was there in 1956 that she met her husband Rock and Roll pioneer Ike Turner who performed at the club with The Kings of Rhythm. In 1960 fate provided Tina a chance to feature in a song by The Kings of Rhythm when an artist didn’t show up to the recording. She sang the lead on that song called “A Fool in Love” fell in love. The duo released the song to the radio stations as “Ike and Tina Turner”.

Before long, the group was touring as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and earning renown for their electrifying stage performances. The group also capitalized on the success of “A Fool in Love” by releasing a string of successful follow-up singles, including “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” “Poor Fool” and “Tra La La La La.”

Ike and Tina got married in Mexico in 1962 and two years later their son Ronnie was born. In 1966 their fame reached new heights when they recorded the album “River Deep…Mountain High” with superstar producer Phil Spector. The title track was unsuccessful in the United States but it became a massive top 5 hit in the United Kingdom. Their Live performance were electrifying and filled with pure passion for the art of music. In 1969 they toured as the opening act for The Rolling Stones, winning themselves more fans in the process. “Proud Mary” became a cornerstone of the duo’s shows. Many fans and music lovers rocked to their electrifying music along with Tinas powerful vocal delivery. Tina also began writing her own songs and that added to the authenticity of her art.

1973’s “Nutbush City Limits” further established Tina Turners gift as the writer and performer that she really was and not just a backup singer earning them a spot on the Top 5 in the United Kingdom. Despite their success with the music there were problems in the marriage between Tina and Ike Turner. Abuse allegations soon led to the couples separation in 1970. In the years following their highly public divorce Tina Turners career got off to a slow start. According to her when she left she only had “36 cents and a gas station credit card”. Many women can understand when you truly reach that limit and decide to leave. Tina admitted to using food stamps and cleaning houses to feed her children also performing at lower profile venues making guest appearances with other artists when the opportunity presented itself. It was tough and although she didn’t get the attention and fame she once had she was gaining steam.

Ike and Tina Turner
Tina and Ike Turner

There was a huge comeback brewing in Tina’s life and it was just around the corner. In 1983 she recorded the remake of Al Greens “Let’s Stay Together” which ended up in the Top 5 domestic R&B charts and the top 10 in the Pop Charts in the UK. The following year she responded back with a powerful and much anticipated album “Private Dancer” that was released seeing her get the critical success and recognition she truly deserved. The single “What’s Love Got to do with it” reached No.1 on the US Pop charts for the first time cementing her as a powerful voice in music. By this time Tina was in her mid 40s and renowned for her electrifying performances and costumes that accented her punk style hair. Tina proved that the comeback is always better than the fall off.

In 1985 Tina made her debut with Mel Gibson in the film Mad Max Beyond Thunder-dome to which she contributed to the soundtrack which ended up as No.2 in the pop category. The Song was aptly titled “We don’t need another Hero”. A year later she publish her autobiography simply titled “I, Tina” which would be adapted for the 1993 film “What’s Love Got To Do with It” starring Angela Basset as Tina and Lawrence Fishburne as Ike. She also contributed to the films soundtrack remaking her popular songs also making the single “I Don’t Wanna Fight” go double platinum.

The year 1986 also saw the release of Turner’s second solo album, Break Every Rule, featuring the fun “Typical Male.” Chronicling unfulfilled desire with a too-brainy romantic interest, the track was yet another hit for Turner, reaching No. 2 on the pop charts. 

Tina Live in Europe followed in 1988 and won the Grammy for Female Rock Vocal Performance, and Foreign Affair (1989), which included the top 20 hit single “The Best,” outdid Private Dancer in worldwide sales.

Understanding Tina’s story is understanding life and it’s many ups and downs. Sure she had a very hard and troubling life growing up poor and dealing with Abuse in her most treasured relationships but she put that work into her art and making a better life for her self. Improving her delivery, collaborating with others and never giving up. Tina also contributed to the soundtrack of the James Bond title film “Golden Eye”. In 1991 Ike and Tina reunited when they were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ike was unable to attend the ceremony as he was serving time for drug progression. Ike later died of a drug overdose in 2007. In 2008 Tina embarked on her Tina!, 50th Anniversary Tour which became the highest selling ticket shows in 2008 and 2009 and she announced it would be her final tour.

At the Age of 73 and in 2013, Tina found love again and got married to her longtime partner German record executive Erwin Bach.

We are Celebrating Tina for her commitment, her resilience and changing her story it is easier to just sit there and play the victim but victory is always sweeter when you use what you been through to become a better person. I first heard Tina’s iconic music on the radio in the kitchen in the 90s and having grown up with my grandparents I understood her story and how truly we find love when we need it the most.

Salute to you Tina and thank you for answering your songs question……EVERYTHING

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