Tina Turner: Queen of rock ‘n’ roll with a commanding stage presence

With her soulful hits and a commanding stage presence, Tina Turner secured her status as the queen of rock ‘n’ roll with a catalogue of powerful hits that showcased her boundless energy and gravelly vocals.

Across her career, which began in the 1950s, the American-born singer won over hearts with classic songs including River Deep – Mountain High, Proud Mary and Nutbush City Limits.

She was a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and won a total of 12 Grammy Awards.

Tina Turner announces UK shows
(Andrew MacPherson/PA)

Turner also turned her hand to the silver screen, and inspired an award-winning musical based on her captivating life before her death.

Her stratospheric success was also set against a dark backdrop of several relationships with men alleged to be abusive including with her former husband Ike Turner and her father.

The singer was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in Nutbush, Tennessee, to parents Zelma Priscilla and Floyd Richard Bullock.

Aged 11, she moved to live with her grandmother after her mother left her abusive relationship with Bullock and moved to St Louis, Missouri.

She later joined her mother and sister Alline at the age of 16 in the city where she first encountered her future husband, Ike Turner and soon joined his band The Kings Of Rhythm as its first female member.

Entertainment – Tina Turner
(Michael Stephens/PA)

In 1960, she reimagined herself as Tina Turner and the group reformed to become the Ike And Tina Turner Revue.

That same year, Turner gave birth to their first child Ronnie with Ike and the pair wed in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1962. Previously, she had another son, Craig Raymond Turner with saxophonist for the Kings Of Rhythm, Raymond Hill.

She rose to prominence as the group’s lead singer as they produced a string of R&B hits, including A Fool In Love and It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.

The release of River Deep – Mountain High in 1966 increased their popularity globally and was followed by a tour in the UK with The Rolling Stones as the band’s support act.

The success of Come Together, Honky Tonk Woman and Proud Mary helped cement their status, with the latter winning them a Grammy Award in 1972.

However, after enduring years of abuse in the relationship at the hands of Ike, Turner attempted to take her own life in 1968.

Ike and Tina Turner (PA)
Ike and Tina Turner (PA)

In 1976, she finally left the marriage, and during the divorce she reportedly asked for nothing but the right to keep the use of her stage name.

The pair were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a duo in 1991, though neither attended the ceremony. Turner went on to be inducted again as a solo artist 30 years later in 2021.

She was inducted by Angela Bassett, who received an Oscar nod for playing her in the 1993 film What’s Love Got To Do With It alongside Laurence Fishburne who had an Academy Award nomination for taking on the role of Ike.

“Imagine, a black girl from Nutbush, Tennessee, who embodied more talent than her small town could have ever dreamed,” Bassett said at the ceremony.

“Imagine that same girl breaking through every barrier to one day make history.

“People still tell me how much Tina has meant to them. I know exactly what they mean, because she has meant that much and more to me.

“I too am one of those people blessed by Tina’s remarkable gift to inspire.”

Despite a slow start, with her debut album Tina Turns The Country On! in 1974 and Acid Queen in 1975, the singer went on have a glittering solo career, securing multiple other accolades in both the US and UK.

Throughout the 1980s, Turner rebuilt her career, with a string of hits beginning in 1983 with the Al Green cover Let’s Stay Together and the 1984 release of her album Private Dancer.

Her 1989 album Foreign Affair featured the track The Best, which was favoured by Diana, Princess of Wales, according to her son The Prince of Wales.

William revealed in 2021 that the hit brought back treasured memories of his mother singing it at the “top of her voice” with her sons as she drove them to school.

He said Diana would play the song to ease the anxiety as she took him and the Duke of Sussex back to school, thought to be Ludgrove in Berkshire.

Tina Turner in concert – Dublin
Turner was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1986 in the category of recording (Niall Carson/PA)

Turner also previously held a Guinness World Record for the largest paying audience for a solo performer – attracting an audience of 180,000 for her show at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1988.

Turner, who was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1986 in the category of recording, also leant her powerful voice to James Bond theme tune GoldenEye.

In the 1990s, she re-recorded music for her semi-autobiographical film and had a North American and European tour.

After a brief break from showbusiness, she returned to the limelight in 2008 at the Grammy Awards, where she performed alongside Beyonce to Proud Mary and embarked on her 50th anniversary tour and in 2016 she announced Tina – The Tina Turner Musical.

In 2021, she sold the rights to her back catalogue after reaching an agreement with BMG for an undisclosed sum.

Turner never had a number one song in the UK and the last of her 34 UK Top 40 hits was released in 2020 when she re-recorded What’s Love Got To Do With It with Norwegian DJ Kygo.

She has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, including certified Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) album sales of 10 million.

Turner earned a total of 12 Grammys, including eight competitive awards as well as being honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 and three Grammy Hall of Fame awards for her hit songs.

She met music producer Erwin Bach in the 1980s and they tied the knot in a ceremony years later on the banks of Lake Zurich in Switzerland in 2013.

The pair lived in Switzerland together, and a small portion of their love and life was chronicled in her 2018 memoir, Tina Turner: My Love Story, as well as in the 2021 Tina documentary.

“I don’t necessarily want to be a ‘strong’ person. I had a terrible life. I just kept going,” Turner told the New York Times in 2019.

“You just keep going, and you hope that something will come.”

Outside of her musical work, she has appeared in the 1975 film Tommy, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and the 1993 film Last Action Hero.