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Tina Turner Bio
Tina Turner (born November 26, 1939 as Anna Mae Bullock) is an American-born Swiss singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress. Turner rose to international prominence as a featured singer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm before recording hit singles both with Ike and as a solo performer. One of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, she has been referred to as The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll and has sold more than 200 million albums and singles worldwide to date. She is noted for her energetic stage presence, powerful vocals, and career longevity. According to Guinness World Records, Turner has sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history.
Anna Mae Bullock was born to a small family in Nutbush, Tennessee. Growing up throughout the Southeastern United States, she began singing in local church choirs. She began her career in 1958 as a featured singer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, first recording under the name “Little Ann”. Her introduction to the public as Tina Turner began in 1960 as a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Success followed with a string of notable hits credited to the duo, including “A Fool in Love”, “River Deep – Mountain High” (1966), “Proud Mary” (1971), and “Nutbush City Limits” (1973), a song that she wrote. In her autobiography, I, Tina (1986), she revealed several instances of severe domestic abuse against her by Ike Turner prior to their 1976 split and subsequent 1978 divorce. Raised a Baptist, she became an adherent of Nichiren Buddhism in 1973, crediting the spiritual chant of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which Tina says helped her to endure during difficult times.
After her divorce from Ike, she rebuilt her career through live performances. In the 1980s, Tina launched a major comeback with another string of hits, starting in late 1983 with the single “Let’s Stay Together” followed by the 1984 release of her fifth solo album Private Dancer which became a worldwide success. The album contained the song “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, which became Tina’s biggest hit and won four Grammy Awards including Record of the Year. Her solo success continued throughout the 1980s and 90s with multi-platinum albums including Break Every Rule and Foreign Affair, and with singles such as “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”, “Typical Male”, “The Best”, “I Don’t Wanna Fight”, and “GoldenEye”, for the 1995 James Bond film of the same name.
In 1993, What’s Love Got to Do with It, a biographical film adapted from her autobiography, was released along with an accompanying soundtrack album. In addition to her musical career, Tina has also garnered success acting in films, including the role of the Acid Queen in the 1975 rock musical Tommy, a starring role alongside Mel Gibson in the 1985 action film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and a cameo role in the 1993 film Last Action Hero. In 2008, Tina returned from semi-retirement to embark on her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour. Tina’s tour became one of the highest selling ticketed shows of 2008–09. Although an American citizen by birth, Tina gave up her American citizenship in 2013 after becoming a citizen of Switzerland.
Throughout her career, Tina Turner has won 12 Grammy Awards, comprising eight competitive awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame awards, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the only female artist to garner concurrent Grammy nominations for pop, rock, and R&B. In 1993, the World Music Awards recognized her years in the music business by awarding her the Legend Award. In 2000, Tina Turner was the female artist with the most shows with 25 at Wembley Arena and with 5 at Wembley Stadium (three in 1996 and two in 2000) by Wembley Arena Record. In the UK, she is the first female artist to have a top 40 hit in six consecutive decades. She has had a total of 34 top 40 hits. Rolling Stone ranked Tina Turner 63rd on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time and 17th on their list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. In 1991, Tina Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tina Turner has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the St. Louis Walk of Fame. In 2014, She was inducted into the SoulMusic Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ike & Tina Turner
Anna and her sister began to frequent nightclubs in the St. Louis and East St. Louis areas around this time. At Club Manhattan, a nightclub in the East St. Louis area, she first saw Ike Turner and his band, the Kings of Rhythm, perform. Anna was impressed by the band’s music and Ike’s talent, claiming the bandleader’s music put her “into a trance.” Anna felt the urge to sing on stage with Ike’s band despite the fact that few women had ever sung with him. One night in 1957, 17-year-old Anna was given a microphone by Kings of Rhythm drummer Eugene Washington during an intermission. Upon hearing her sing, Ike asked her if she knew more songs; she was allowed to sing that night, becoming a guest vocalist from then on. Through this period, Ike taught her the points of voice control and performance. Her first studio recording was in 1958, singing background, under the name “Little Ann”, on the Ike Turner song, “Box Top”, alongside singer Carlson Oliver.
In 1960, Ike wrote an R&B song, “A Fool in Love”, originally for Kings of Rhythm vocalist Art Lassiter. Lassiter failed to show up to the recording studio and Anna eventually was allowed to sing the song after much pleading to Ike. Ike agreed to use her voice as a “dummy vocal”, with the intention of erasing her vocals and adding Lassiter’s at a later date. Although some felt that the demo with Anna’s voice was “high pitched” and “screechy”, the song received decent airtime in St. Louis. Local St. Louis deejay Dave Dixon convinced Ike to send the tape to Juggy Murray, president of R&B label, Sue Records.Upon hearing the song, Murray was impressed with Anna’s vocals, later stating that her vocals “sounded like screaming dirt… it was a funky sound.” Murray bought the track and paid Ike a $25,000 (around $208,620 as of 2017) advance for recording and publishing rights. Murray also convinced Turner to make Anna “the star of the show”. It was at this point that Ike Turner renamed Anna Mae Bullock “Tina” because the name rhymed with the television character Sheena. He was inspired by Sheena, Queen of the Jungle to create her stage persona. Ike trademarked the name “Tina Turner” as a form of protection so that if Anna left him like his previous lead singers, he could replace her with another singer and have her perform as Tina.
“A Fool in Love” was released in July 1960 and became an immediate hit, peaking at number 2 on the Hot R&B Sides chart and number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 that October. Kurt Loder described the track as “the blackest record to ever creep into the white pop charts since Ray Charles’ gospel-styled ‘What’d I Say’ that previous summer.” A second pop hit, “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” (1961), reached the top 20 and earned the group a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock and Roll Performance. Notable singles released during the duo’s Sue Records period included the R&B hits, “I Idolize You”, “Poor Fool”, and “Tra-La-La-La”. In 1964, Ike & Tina left Sue and signed with Kent Records, releasing the modest single, “I Can’t Believe What You Say”. The following year, they signed with Loma Records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Records and run by Bob Krasnow, who had become their manager shortly after they left Sue Records. Between 1964 and 1969, Ike & Tina signed with more than ten labels.
While touring to support the record, Ike created his own musical revue, the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, which included the Kings of Rhythm and a girl group that Ike named The Ikettes backing Tina, while he remained in the background, often playing his guitar to the back of Tina. Wanting to maintain their base and increase finances, Ike Turner put Tina and the entire Revue through a rigorous touring schedule across the United States, gigging 90 days straight in dates around the country. During the days of the chitlin’ circuit, the Ike and Tina Turner Revue built a reputation that a writer for the History of Rock site cited as “one of the most hottest, most durable, and potentially most explosive of all R&B ensembles” with its show rivaling that of the James Brown Show in terms of musical spectacle. The shows provided them financial success. Due to their successful performances, the couple was able to perform in front of diverse crowds in the American South due to the money they made from performing in Southern clubs. Between 1963 and 1966, the band toured constantly without the presence of a hit single. Tina’s own profile was raised after several solo appearances on shows, such as American Bandstand and Shindig!, while the entire Revue appeared on shows, such as Hollywood A Go-Go, The Andy Williams Show, and, in late 1965, in the concert film The Big T.N.T. Show.
In 1965, Phil Spector caught an Ike & Tina performance in Los Angeles and sought to work with Tina. Working out a deal, Spector gave Ike a $20,000 advance to keep out of the studio to which Ike agreed. With Spector, Tina produced the song “River Deep – Mountain High”, which was released in 1966 on Spector’s Philles label. Spector considered that record, with Tina’s maximum energy over a symphonic sound, to be his best work. It was successful overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom, where it eventually reached number 3 on the singles chart, but it failed to go any higher than #88 in the United States. Crushed, Spector never signed another act to Philles. But the impact of the record gave Ike and Tina an opening spot for The Rolling Stones’ UK tour later that fall, which the Revue later extended by performing all over Europe and Australia. Signing with Blue Thumb Records in 1968, the Revue issued the blues-heavy albums, Outta Season and The Hunter. Outta Season produced the Revue’s charted cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” while the latter earned Tina a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her rendition of the title track, originally recorded by Albert King. The success of the albums led to the Revue headlining at Las Vegas where their shows were attended by a variety of celebrities including David Bowie, Sly Stone, Janis Joplin, Cher, James Brown, Ray Charles, Elton John, and Elvis Presley.
In 1969, the Revue’s profile in their home country was raised after opening for the Rolling Stones on their US tour. In 1970, they performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. The tour’s success resulted in the Revue signing with Liberty Records, where they released two albums, Come Together and Workin’ Together, released in 1970 and 1971 respectively. Come Together produced the duo’s first top 40 single with their cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher”. Come Together marked a turning point in their careers in which they switched from their usual R&B repertoire to incorporate more rock tunes. In early 1971, their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” became their biggest hit, reaching number 4 on the Hot 100 and selling over a million copies, winning them a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. Later in 1971, their live album, What You Hear Is What You Get, taken from a performance at Carnegie Hall, was their first to be certified gold. In 1972, Ike Turner created the studio, Bolic Sounds, near their home in Inglewood. After Liberty was bought by United Artists Records, the duo was assigned to that label, releasing ten albums in a three-year period. The duo’s final major hit single, “Nutbush City Limits”, was released in 1973, reaching number 22 on the Hot 100, and peaking at number 4 in the UK. In 1974, Tina released her first solo album, Tina Turns the Country On!, winning a Grammy nomination.
That year, Tina traveled to London to participate in the filming of the rock musical, Tommy, in which she played The Acid Queen, a drug-addicted prostitute who tries to coax Tommy into sex and illegal drug addiction and sang the song of the same name; her performance was critically acclaimed. Shortly after filming wrapped, Tina appeared with Ann-Margret on her TV special in London. Returning to the United States, Tina continued her career with the Revue. Following the release of Tommy, another Tina Turner solo album, Acid Queen, was released in 1975.
Decline of the duo
By the mid-1970s, Ike Turner’s excessive cocaine habit had gotten out of hand. During this period, Tina adopted the Nichiren Buddhist faith and chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to help her deal with a stressful marriage and career. Due to Ike Turner’s drug abuse, some shows were either canceled or postponed. In July 1976, Ike Turner had plans to leave United Artists Records for a five-year, $150,000 deal with Cream Records. The deal was to be signed on July 6. On July 2, 1976, Ike and Tina were en route from Los Angeles to Dallas where the Revue had a gig at the Dallas Statler Hilton. Ike and Tina got into a fight during their ride to the hotel. Shortly after arriving to the hotel, Tina fled from the hotel and later hid at a friend’s house. On July 27, Tina sued for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Ike claims in his book that Tina initiated the fight by purposely irritating him so that she’d have a reason to break up with him before they were scheduled to sign a new 5-year contract upon their return from Dallas.
Tina later credited the Nichiren Buddhist faith and chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with giving her the courage to strike out on her own. However, by walking out on Ike in the middle of a tour, she learned she was legally responsible to tour promoters for the canceled shows. After a year in court, their divorce was made final on March 29, 1978. In the divorce, she completely parted ways with him, retaining only her stage name and assuming responsibility for the debts incurred by the canceled tour as well as a significant Internal Revenue Service lien.
First solo performances
In 1977, with finances given to her by United Artists executive Richard Stewart, Tina returned onstage, giving a round of shows in Las Vegas in a cabaret setting, influenced by the cabaret shows she witnessed while a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. She took her cabaret act to smaller venues in the United States. Tina earned further income by appearing on shows such as The Hollywood Squares, Donny and Marie, The Sonny & Cher Show and The Brady Bunch Hour. Later in 1977, Tina headlined her first solo concert tour, throughout Australia. In 1978, United Artists released her third solo album, Rough, with distribution both in North America and Europe with EMI. That album, along with its follow-up, Love Explosion, which included a brief diversion to disco rhythms, failed to chart.
The albums completed her United Artists/EMI contracts and Tina Turner left the labels. Continuing her performing career with her second headlining tour, Wild Lady of Rock ‘n’ Roll, she continued to be a successful live act even without the premise of a hit record. Following an appearance on Olivia Newton-John‘s US TV special, Hollywood Nights, in 1979, Tina sought a contract with Newton-John’s manager Roger Davies. Davies agreed to work with Tina as her manager after seeing her perform at the Venetian Ballroom in the Fairmont San Francisco hotel in February 1980.
Davies advised Tina to drop her band and remodel her show into a grittier rock’n’roll showcase. In 1981, Davies booked her at The Ritz in New York City. Following the performance, Rod Stewart hired her to perform a duet version of his hit, “Hot Legs”, on Saturday Night Live, and later hired her to open for him on his U.S. tour. One show with Rod Stewart and Kim Carnes, on 19 December 1981, at the L. A. Forum, Inglewood, was filmed. Afterwards, Tina Turner opened three shows for The Rolling Stones. A recorded cover of The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” for the UK production team B.E.F. featuring Robert Cray, became a hit in European dance clubs in 1982. Following performances with Chuck Berry and several short tours in the U.S. and Europe, she again performed at the Ritz in December of the year, which resulted in a singles deal with Capitol Records under the insistence of David Bowie.
In November 1983, Tina released her cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” with Capitol. The record became a hit, reaching several European charts, including a top 10 placement in the United Kingdom. The song peaked at number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Tina’s first solo entry into the U.S. charts. It also peaked at the top 10 of the Hot Dance Club Songs and Hot Black Singles charts. The success of the song forced Capitol to rethink its contract with her, offering her a three album deal, demanding an album on short notice, which had Tina staging what Ebony magazine later called an “amazing comeback”.Recorded in two months in London, the album, Private Dancer, was released in June 1984. That same month, Capitol issued the album’s second single, “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, earlier recorded by the rock group Bucks Fizz in 1984. It reached the top 10 within a month and in September had reached number 1 on the Hot 100 in the U.S. Featuring hit singles, such as “Better Be Good to Me” and “Private Dancer“, the album peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200, selling five million copies alone in the states and selling over twenty million copies worldwide, making it her most successful album. Turner’s comeback culminated in early 1985 when she won four Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year for “What’s Love Got to Do with It”. In February of that year, she embarked on her second world tour supporting the Private Dancer album, where she toured to huge crowds. One show, filmed at Birmingham, England’s NEC Arena, was later released on home video. During this time, she also contributed on vocals to the USA for Africa benefit song “We Are the World”.
Tina Turner’s success continued when she travelled to Australia to star opposite Mel Gibson in the 1985 post-apocalyptic film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The movie provided her with her first acting role in ten years—she portrayed the glamorous Aunty Entity, the ruler of Bartertown. Upon release, critical response to her performance was generally positive, and the film became a global success, making more than $36 million in the United States alone. Tina Turner later received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress for her role in the film. She also recorded two songs for the film, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” and “One of the Living”; both became hits, with the latter winning her a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. In July, Tina performed at Live Aid alongside Mick Jagger. Encouraged by a performance together during Tina’s filmed solo concert in England, singer Bryan Adams released their duet single together, “It’s Only Love”, later resulting in a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Tina Turner followed up Private Dancer with Break Every Rule in 1986. Featuring “Typical Male”, “Two People” and “What You Get Is What You See”, the albums that sold more than four million units in the U.S., Prior to the album’s release, Tina Turner published her memoirs, I, Tina, which later became a bestseller, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Tina’s European Break Every Rule Tour, which culminated in March 1988 in Munich, Germany, contributed to record-breaking sales and concert attendances. In January 1988, Turner made history alongside Paul McCartney when she performed in front of the largest paying audience (approximately 180,000) to see a solo performer in Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, earning her a Guinness World Record. The success of Tina Turner’s two live tours led to the recording of Tina Live in Europe which was released that April. Tina lay low following the end of her Break Every Rule Tour, emerging once again with Foreign Affair which included one of her signature songs, “The Best.” She later embarked on a European tour to promote the album. While Foreign Affair went gold in the United States, with its singles “The Best” and “Steamy Windows” becoming Top 40 hits there. It was hugely successful in Europe, where she had personally relocated.
In 1991, Ike & Tina Turner were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Phil Spector later accepted on their behalf. That same year, the ex-couple signed away their rights to have their lives dramatized in the semi-autobiographical film What’s Love Got to Do with It, later released in 1993 and starring Angela Bassett as Tina and Laurence Fishburne as Ike, with the actors receiving Best Actress and Best Actor Academy Award nominations for their portrayals of the former husband-and-wife team. Tina contributed to the soundtrack for What’s Love Got to Do with It, re-recording songs from her Revue days and recording several newer songs, including what turned out to be her last Top 10 U.S. hit, “I Don’t Wanna Fight”. Other than helping Bassett with her wardrobe and teaching her dance steps as well as providing songs for the soundtrack, and appearing as herself at the end of the film, she refused to be involved fully in the film, telling an interviewer, “Why would I want to see Ike Turner beat me up again? I haven’t dwelled on it; it’s all in the past where it belongs.” Following the film’s and soundtrack’s release, Tina embarked on her first US tour in seven years. Following the tour’s end, she moved to Switzerland and took a year off from the road at the end of the tour.
Tina Turner returned in 1995 with the U2 composition, “GoldenEye” for the James Bond film of the same name. Its huge success in Europe and modest success in her native United States led her to record a new album, releasing the Wildest Dreams album in 1996. Though the album itself was not as hugely successful in the United States, thanks to a world tour and a much played Hanes hosiery commercial, the album went gold in the United States. The album reached platinum success in Europe where she had hits with “Whatever You Want”, “Missing You”, which briefly charted in the U.S., “Something Beautiful Remains”, and the sensual Barry White duet, “In Your Wildest Dreams”. Following the tour’s end in 1997, Tina took another break before re-emerging again in 1999 appearing on the VH-1 special Divas Live ’99.
In 1998, the duet with Italian musician Eros Ramazzotti in “Cose della vita” became a European hit. Before celebrating her 60th birthday, Tina released the dance-infused song, “When the Heartache Is Over” and its parent album, Twenty Four Seven the following month in Europe, releasing both the song and the album in North America in early 2000. The success of “When the Heartache Is Over” and her tour supporting the album once again helped in the album going gold in the U.S. The Twenty Four Seven Tour became her most successful concert tour to date and became the highest-grossing tour of 2000 according to Pollstar grossing over $100 million. Later, Guinness World Records announced that Tina Turner had sold more concert tickets than any other solo concert performer in music history.Afterwards, Tina announced a semi-retirement.
In 2002, Tennessee State Route 19 between Brownsville and Nutbush was named “Tina Turner Highway”. The following year, she recorded the duet “Great Spirits” with Phil Collins for the Disney film, Brother Bear. In 2004, Tina made her first professional appearances following her semi-retirement, releasing the compilation album, All the Best, which produced the single “Open Arms”, and sold more than a million copies in the US.
In December of the following year, Tina Turner was recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and was elected to join an elite group of entertainers. President George W. Bush commented on her “natural skill, the energy, and sensuality”, and referred to her legs as “the most famous in show business”. Several artists paid tribute to her that night including Oprah Winfrey, Melissa Etheridge (performing “River Deep – Mountain High”), Queen Latifah(performing “What’s Love Got to Do with It”), Beyoncé (performing “Proud Mary”), and Al Green (performing “Let’s Stay Together”). Winfrey stated, “We don’t need another hero. We need more heroines like you, Tina. You make me proud to spell my name w-o-m-a-n,” In November, Tina Turner released All the Best – Live Collection and it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. She participated in the soundtrack to All the Invisible Children, providing duet vocals to the song “Teach Me Again”, with singer Elisa, finding success in Italy where it peaked at the top spot.
In 2007, Tina gave her first live performance in seven years, headlining a benefit concert for the Cauldwell’s Children Charity at London’s Natural History Museum. That year, she performed a rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Edith and The Kingpin” on Herbie Hancock‘s Mitchell tribute album, River: The Joni Letters. Tina’s original vocals for Carlos Santana’s “The Game of Love” were included in a Santana greatest hits compilation. Label demands led to her vocals being replaced at the last minute by Michelle Branch.
On December 12, 2007, Tina’s former husband Ike Turner died from a cocaine overdose. He had also been suffering from emphysema and cardiovascular disease. Tina issued a brief statement through her spokesperson, stating: “Tina hasn’t had any contact with Ike in more than 30 years. No further comment will be made.”
Tina Turner made her public comeback in February 2008 at the Grammy Awards where she performed alongside Beyoncé. In addition, she picked up a Grammy as a featured artist on River: The Joni Letters. In October 2008, Turner embarked on her first tour in nearly ten years with the Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour. In support of the tour, Turner released another hits compilation. The tour became a huge success and culminated in the release of the live album/DVD, Tina Live. In 2009, Turner participated in the singing project Beyond with fellow musicians Regula Curti, Selda Bagcan, and Dechen Shak Dagsay. Their first album Buddhist And Christian Prayers combined Buddhist chants and Christian choral music along with a spiritual message read by Turner. The album was released only in Germany and a handful of other countries. It peaked at number 7 in Switzerland.
In April 2010, mainly due to an online campaign by fans of Rangers Football Club, Tina’s 1989 hit, “The Best”, returned to the UK singles chart, peaking at number 9 on the chart. This made Turner the first female recording artist in UK chart history to score top 40 hits in six consecutive decades: the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. In 2011, Beyond’s second album Children – With Children United In Prayer followed and charted again in Switzerland. Turner promoted the album by performing on TV shows in Germany and Switzerland in December that year. In May 2012, Turner was spotted attending a fashion show in Beijing to support Giorgio Armani. Turner appeared on the cover of the German issue of Vogue magazine in April 2013, becoming at the age of 73 the oldest person worldwide to feature on the cover of Vogue. On February 3, 2014, Parlophone Records released a new compilation titled Love Songs. Later in the year, Beyond’s third album Love Within was released with Turner contributing some gospel tracks.
Turner announced in December 2016 that she has been working on Tina, a new musical based on her life story, in collaboration with Phyllida Lloyd and Stage Entertainment. The show opened in London in April 2018 with Adrienne Warren in the lead role. Her second memoir, Tina Turner: My Love Story, is due for release in October 2018.
In January 2018, it was announced that Turner would be one of the awardees to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tina Turner (age: 79) is an American-born Swiss singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress known for the singles "A Fool in Love", "River Deep – Mountain High", "Proud Mary", "What's Love Got to Do with It", "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" and "GoldenEye" for the 1995 James Bond film of the same name.