Tina Turner is a one-person summation of a huge chunk of rock-and-roll history. She is the female incarnation of an important strain of rock culture that embraces southern gospel-rock, Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones. Miss Turner's raw, rending vocal delivery, in which the voice often seems to tear itself apart without ever actually disintegrating, also encompasses the red-hot mama, blues-meets-rock-and-roll tradition embodied by Janis Joplin.
Born Anna Mae Bullock to a mixed race couple (African American, Navajo and Cherokee) in the segregated south and raised as a Baptist, her family were share-croppers and her parents fought constantly. Anna Mae was 10 when she and her elder sister were abandoned by their mother, and thirteen when their father left.
Anna Mae was raised by her sister, her cousins and her grandmother.
She began singing as a teenager and, after moving to St. Louis, Mo., immersed herself in the local rhytm-and-blues scene. She met Ike Turner at a performance by his band, the Kings of Rhytm, in 1956, and soon became part of the act. She began performing as Tina Turner, and her electric stage presence quickly made her the centerpiece of the show.
In 1960 the couple had a son, Ronnie. ... The same year, they landed their first hit, "A Fool in Love," and in 1962, they were married in Tijuana. The band's crossover to pop came with "River Deep—Mountain High" (1966)—a song that, while not a chart topper in the United States, propelled them to European acclaim. Onstage Ike and Tina soared, but offstage she suffered through his violent attacks.
As a bandleader, Ike had long been a disciplinarian, but during the '60s he developed severe addictions to alcohol and, especially, cocaine. Wanting to maintain control over the star of his show at any cost, Turner kept his wife in line through an increasingly violent pattern of emotional and physical abuse; often drug-related, his flights of rage could result in severe beatings or burns that pushed Tina to attempt suicide in 1968, according to her autobiography.
The duo's track record in the sixties and seventies is the stuff of legend, as is the violent disintegration of their marriage and Tina's subsequent departure. For a time, Turner struggled for survival, depending on food stamps and the kindness of friends. In 1984, she made one of the biggest comebacks in music history with the release of her solo album Private Dancer.
Tina’s comeback began in earnest in 1981, when the Rolling Stones offered her a few opening spots on their U.S. tour. Around that time she also opened some shows for Rod Stewart and toured the world. In 1983 she landed a solo recording deal and by year’s end had a UK hit with her steamy cover of Al Green’s "Let’s Stay Together" (#26 pop; #6 U.K.).
The 1985 Grammy Awards show has been remembered by most people as the "Tina Turner Awards," both for her triumphant comeback and for one of the most dramatic entrances and performances in the show's history. ...
Not only did she win Record of the Year, but she added Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Rock Female Vocal Performance to her Grammy bag, and then cheered as her friends Graham Lyle and Terry Britten won Song of the Year for "What's Love Got to Do with It."
Turner, long legendary for her live shows, toured tirelessly. She has always been especially popular in Europe and in England, where Tina Live in Europe went to Number Eight as opposed to Number 86 in the United States. ... She duetted with Mick Jagger at Live Aid in 1985 and is a favorite of British rock stars.
She followed her musical success with a role in the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), and she wrote her autobiography, I, Tina in 1986.
In 2005, Turner received the Kennedy Center Honors; at the ceremony she earned praise from both Oprah Winfrey and President Bush. In 2008, Turner performed with Beyonce at the Grammys, then set out for Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour, a worldwide swing that ran through May, 2009.
"Sometimes you've got to let everything go ... purge yourself. I did that... If you are unhappy with anything ... bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out. So there I was dealing with me. ... I had talent ... and I never allowed myself to get lost. I held on to the positive. I gave into myself. I went inside of me to help me. It can happen."
I, Tina, 1986