Tina Turner, the renowned singer and stage performer known for her collaborations with husband Ike Turner and her remarkable resilience in the face of adversity, passed away at the age of 83. She died after a prolonged illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, as confirmed by her manager. Turner had become a Swiss citizen ten years ago.
Her journey from humble beginnings as Anna Mae Bullock in a segregated Tennessee hospital to residing in a sprawling estate on Lake Zurich showcased her extraordinary path. Despite enduring physical abuse, emotional turmoil, and financial ruin during her tumultuous 20-year marriage with Ike Turner, Tina emerged as a solo superstar in her forties, defying expectations and becoming a prominent concert draw for years to come.
With a fan base that spanned from Beyoncé to Mick Jagger, Tina Turner established herself as one of the world’s most successful entertainers, captivating audiences with her iconic hits such as “Proud Mary,” “Nutbush City Limits,” “River Deep, Mountain High,” and later successes like “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” and her cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
Known for her distinctive growling contralto, bold smile, striking cheekbones, assortment of wigs, and her unapologetic display of her powerful legs, Tina Turner sold over 150 million records worldwide and earned 12 Grammy Awards throughout her illustrious career.
In 1991, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Ike, and in 2021, she was honored with an individual induction. Moreover, the Kennedy Center recognized her contributions in 2005, with luminaries like Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey lauding her achievements. Her remarkable life story served as the inspiration for a film, a Broadway musical, and an HBO documentary in 2021, which she referred to as her public farewell.
Before breaking free from her husband and exposing their troubled past, Tina was recognized as the fierce on-stage counterpart to the steady Ike, serving as the leading lady of the “Ike and Tina Turner Revue.” Ike, who took top billing and controlled the show, determined the material, arrangements, and backing singers.
The couple toured extensively, driven in part by Ike’s financial struggles and his reluctance to miss a performance. Tina Turner was compelled to perform even when battling bronchitis, pneumonia, or a collapsed right lung. At times, Ike himself was the cause of her misfortunes.
In her memoir titled “I, Tina,” Tina revealed that Ike started physically abusing her shortly after they met in the mid-1950s, and the abuse only escalated over time. He would viciously attack her, throwing hot coffee in her face, choking her, and beating her until her eyes swelled shut, even subjecting her to sexual assault. Prior to one concert, he broke her jaw, yet she valiantly took the stage with blood-filled mouth. Eventually, her burgeoning Buddhist faith in the mid-1970s instilled in her a sense of strength and self-worth, leading her to leave Ike in early July 1976.
On the eve of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue’s scheduled tour for the country’s bicentennial celebration, Tina made her escape from their Dallas hotel room while Ike slept, armed with only a Mobil credit card and 36 cents. She hurriedly crossed a nearby highway, narrowly avoiding an oncoming truck, and found refuge in another hotel.
Looking back at that moment, Tina reflected, “I looked at him (Ike) and thought, ‘You just beat me for the last time, you sucker.'” Her courage in speaking openly about domestic abuse made her a beacon of hope for battered women and an embodiment of a generation.
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