2023: Tina Turner is Remembered By Fellow Music Legends

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Photo of Tina Turner via HBO

Tina Turner, who survived a physically and psychologically abusive relationship with her former husband and musical partner, Ike Turner, and subsequently went on to achieve global superstardom as a beloved music icon, died May 24, 2023, at the age of 83 after a long illness. A representative announced her death: “Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock’n Roll’ has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

Tributes came from a variety of stars. Mick Jagger, who performed with her at Live Aid in 1985, said Turner “helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.” Earvin “Magic” Johnson wrote, “Rest in peace to one of my favorite artists of all time, the legendary queen of rock n’ roll Tina Turner. I’ve seen her many many times and hands down, she gave one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. She always gave you your moneys worth.” One of her contemporaries, Darlene Love called Turner “one of a kind!! Icon, legend, warm-hearted, hard working, legs for days, hitmaker, pioneer, hardest working artist, survivor!!” See below for many more tributes.

Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on Nov. 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tenn. She rose to early fame via her professional partnership with Ike Turner, which resulted in such R&B hits as “A Fool in Love,” “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” and “I Idolize You.” A 1966 single, “River Deep–Mountain High,” produced by Phil Spector and released on his Philles Records, received phenomenal reviews but failed to sell up to expectations, causing Spector great disappointment.

Ike and Tina’s popularity rose despite the lack of chart success. Onstage, she was known for her phenomenal vocals and stunning legs as she danced through the musical numbers. Offstage, they appeared to have a healthy marriage and family life. The couple’s adaptations of rock hits like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” and the Beatles’ “Come Together” endeared them to the rock audience, and they opened a tour for the Rolling Stones in 1969.

In 1976, however, Tina had had enough of Ike’s abuse, and she filed for divorce from Ike after 16 years, setting out on a solo career, with negligible results at first.

In his tribute, John Fogerty, who penned “Proud Mary,” wrote, “I loved her version. It was different and fantastic. I was also so happy because she chose my song and it was her breakthrough record.” Ike and Tina Turner’s version reached #4 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the R&B chart in 1970.

The story she would tell writer Carl Arrington of People magazine was an honest and harrowing account of the abuse and torture she had suffered through during her marriage, and the brave escape she made after years of trauma. The article would be the first of many profiles that would cement Tina’s image as a survivor, helping to fuel the story of her extraordinary yet improbable career comeback.

Having lost everything but her name in the divorce, Turner spent several years in Las Vegas, performing in cabaret clubs and appearing on television variety shows. In 1983, at the age of 44, she recorded the album Private Dancer in just two weeks and it quickly became a commercial and critical sensation. Her single “What’s Love Got To Do With It” became her first and only #1 hit on the Hot 100.

Private Dancer sold over 12 million copies worldwide and cemented Turner as a bona fide superstar. She performed with Mick Jagger at LiveAid, won a slew of Grammys and wrote a best-selling autobiography, I, Tina.

Related: Our feature on Turner’s ’80s comeback

By 1993, a feature film was made about her life, starring Angela Bassett. The actress wrote, “Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion and freedom should look like.”

As her fame grew, so did her identity as a cultural symbol, becoming a representation of strength and resilience to her fans. Privately, she wrestled with the survivor narrative that shaped her later life and career and struggled to be released from her past.

Darlene Love wrote, “So so heartbroken to hear that Tina Turner has passed away. I knew she has been ill but never thought this day would come. Tina and I close back in the day. We both recorded “River Deep Mountain High”, worked with Phil Spector, performed on Shindig together and broke into the business around the same time. There will NEVER be a performer like Tina Turner again! She was one of a kind!! Icon, legend, warm-hearted, hard working, legs for days, hitmaker, pioneer, hardest working artist, survivor!! She was simply the BEST! 💔😢🕯️🙏🏾📿🌹🕊️🎶🎤”

In her tribute, Carole King wrote, “She taught women that they could be strong, sexy, fearless, and their own person. May she rest in peace and power.”

On May 25, Eric Clapton shared an uncredited photo on Facebook with the simple note, “RIP Tina xx.”

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey posted tributes on The Who’s Facebook page. “If you ever had the privilege of seeing Tina perform live you will know how utterly scary she could be,” wrote Townshend. “She was an immense presence. A female Little Richard. She seemed like a giant: shaking, sexual, physical and stunningly beautiful. In the flesh she was fragile, vulnerable and a truly sweet and empathetic person.

“She was of course my Acid Queen in the Tommy movie, and it is often my job to sing that song with The Who, so she always comes into my mind. It isn’t easy to deal with. The song is about abuse at the hands of an evil woman. How she turned that song on its head! All the anger of her years as a victim exploded into fire and bluster and a magnificent and crazy cameo role that will always stay with me.”

Daltrey added, “”What a singer! What a performer! What a life! A true original artist, and simply the best.”

Cher told MSNBC’s Ari Melber, “She was one of the great artists of our generation. There was no one like her. She was such a force. She hit everything head on.”

On Instagram, Elton John wrote, “We have lost one of the word’s most exciting and electric performers. A total legend on record and on stage. She was untouchable.”

Bob Seger wrote, “Tina… didn’t just break down barriers and stereotypes, she obliterated them. Her performances were explosive, her energy boundless and yet in the times I had the privilege to spend with her she was a kind, generous person with a gentle spirit.”

A 2021 documentary film, Tina, has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In its review, Variety wrote, “I went into Tina feeling like I knew this story in my bones, but the film kept opening my eyes–to new insights, new tremors of empathy, and a new appreciation for what a towering artist Tina Turner is.” The documentary draws to an emotional conclusion with Tina Turner taking a bow at the opening night of the Broadway musical about her life.

Watch the official trailer

In 2021, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, though she was not well enough to attend. She was previously inducted in 1989 as part of Ike and Tina Turner.

Turner’s recordings are available in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.

Related: Musicians we lost in 2023

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7 Comments so far

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  1. Baybluesman
    #1 Baybluesman 24 May, 2023, 16:18

    Always loved Tina’s on-stage sassiness, rock-n-roll leanings, and her gratitude towards her audiences.

    I saw her open for Lionel Richie on his 1984 “Can’t Slow Down” Tour.
    I went to the show at the urging of my then fiance, as she wanted to see Richie.
    Although Richie was entertaining (especially when he infused his Commodores material) –
    Tina tore it up – She should have been the headliner; no question IMO.

    Also, her appearances in “Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome”, and “Tommy” were extremely memorable and entertaining.

    R.I.P. Anna Mae – you made the music world a better place.

    Reply this comment
  2. JennyB
    #2 JennyB 25 May, 2023, 03:39

    I’m devastated to hear of Tina’s passing. We’ve lost a legend, more than an icon, but an inspiration to women everywhere to be strong, tough and to stand up for ourselves. I’ve been a fan since the early days and loved her straight off. She was a WOMAN’S voice in rock, blasting through a wall of male artists like they were just learning to sing! I recorded the video of her dancing to “Proud Mary” and learned all of the steps! I was pretty good for a little white girl! R.I.P., Tina, and know that everyone loved you dearly and will miss you more than you know. I hope to see you on the other side! Rock on, girl!

    Reply this comment
  3. Yvette
    #3 Yvette 25 May, 2023, 05:22

    I Sadly Never had the Opportunity to see Tina Turner in Concert.. Tina and her Girls in Band had the Choreography Routine down to a Science. I think of other Rock Artists who could have been giving a Nod to Tina and her Dance Style of such Raw Emotion. One Rocker Rod Stewart in singing “Hot Legs”, and the other being the Band ZZ TOP with the 1983 Hit “Legs” with the Lyrics saying….
    “She’s Got Legs, and She Knows How To Use Them”.
    Dear Tina.. for All her Trials and Tribulations in her Life She Reigned the Queen of Rock N’ Roll to Rise to Stardom as the Greatest Soul & Rock Legend of
    ALL TIME… Will Never Be Another!!
    Tina, RIP…..

    Reply this comment
  4. William
    #4 William 25 May, 2023, 09:02

    On stage, a true original and singer. I remembered seeing her in the rock opera movie “Tommy” as the Acid Queen. Later, one of the Mad Max movies. In about every television performance she left everything thing on stage. Plus her and Mick Jagger stole the show at Live Aid.

    Off the stage, she showed grace and class. She was the real deal. I like how she plowed through the adversity and pain in her first marriage and not let that define her. After all that, she did not look back and kicked her future into overdrive.

    I can only imagine all the legends in heaven wanting to perform with her.

    God Bless You Tina Turner….

    Reply this comment
  5. HollyFeather withouy The Feather
    #5 HollyFeather withouy The Feather 25 May, 2023, 10:26

    I love people who are sexy but in that way that everyone can apprteciate and enjoy. Like, EVERYONE!!!!!!!!! She did a show in our little tiny town and it was just like she was performimg for a million people!!!!

    Reply this comment
  6. tacs2376
    #6 tacs2376 26 May, 2023, 23:44

    It’s hard to lose someone that absolutely everyone loved. I just dug out my 1985 Private Dancer tour program and it’s a good reminder that even in the age of Madonna, Prince, and Bruce, it was Tina sitting on top of the world that summer. She more than earned it.

    Reply this comment
  7. muddywatersmann
    #7 muddywatersmann 29 May, 2023, 00:34

    As a young boy/teenager, hearing my 1st IKE & TINA album was musically emotionally and energetically ‘mind heart and soul blowing’…followed them and her every since…She was so strong, wild and intense, screamin’ and so vulnerable…nobody like her…I still listen to those early records with Ike, for those qualities…my favorite version of her song, RIVER DEEP MOUNTAIN, is by Eric Burdon and Animals on LOVE IS album, where he plays tribute to Tina, whole song is great, esp 2 minutes of Eric scattin’ and riffin’ on TINA’s name in middle…I share this song w/ any one named TINA and they all love it…Saddened that she has left us…I love her and will miss her, but she should live forever with us that loved her, know her music, and hopefully all those who discover her in future…in this way she will live forever..

    Reply this comment

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