Tina Turner is a living legend who’s brought joy to millions and millions of people for decades. The singer recently turned 81, and through the years she’s battled several life-threatening health issues.
Id there’s one person who deserves the moniker of the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, it’s Tina Turner. The singer has had a very successful career, spanning over five decades, and has included her accumulating awards and accolades over and over again.
Even though she’s had an amazing career, however, Tina Turner has been through many tragedies, the earliest of which occurred when she was a young child. She grew up without her parents, and throughout the years, she’s been forced to watch one of her son’s passing away, as well as having herself suffered numerous life-threatening health issues between 2013 and 2018.
Now, HBO is releasing a new documentary about the legendary singer, and according to Tina’s husband Erwin Bach – who also appears in the documentary – Tina will use it as an opportunity to say goodbye to all of her fans worldwide. It will be the precursor to her disappearing completely from the public eye.
This is the story of Tina Turner, a rock ‘n’ roll legend who will always have a special place in our hearts.
Tina Turner – early life
Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock, on November 26, 1939 in Nutbush, Tennessee. Her parents – Floyd and Zelma Bullock – were sharecroppers, and so didn’t have a lot of money. Turner, though, recalls that hers was a very good early childhood.
“We were well-to-do farmers – that’s as close as I can get to explaining it. To me, it seemed as if we lived well,” Tina Turner recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“My sister and I had our own room. Each season we’d get new clothes, and I was always fresh and neat, especially compared to a lot of other people around me.
“We were never hungry. Of course, we knew the difference between our family and, say, the daughters of schoolteachers – those people were educated. My parents weren’t, per se, but they had a lot of common sense and spoke well. We weren’t low-class people. In fact, my parents were church people; my father was a deacon in the church.”
Even though Tina Turner felt that her childhood in the rural town of Nutbush was nice, she went through a very tough period as a young kid.
Abandoned by her parents
Her mother abandoned her when she was 10-years of age, and three years later, Turner’s father also left. She explained that her parents fought all the time, and that they “didn’t love each other”.
Looking back on the events – that could’ve changed Turner’s life for the worst – she says that she never was close with her father, and didn’t really care that he left.
“My parents weren’t mine, and I wasn’t theirs, really, so when they left, it was as if they had always been gone as far as I was concerned,” she explained.
“If you ask my sister, Alline, you might get different answers because she might have been affected by it differently. Actually, I’ve never asked her what she thought about them leaving – isn’t that incredible?
“However, I chose them as parents, because, obviously, those experiences made me what I am today,” Turner said. (Since she’s a Buddhist, Tina Turner believes that we choose the parents through whom we enter our physical life).
As a teenager, Turner moved to St. Louis and reunited with her mother. It was in Missouri that her music career began.
Tina was very talented, and as a teenager, she immersed herself in the R&B scene in St Louis. She and her mother argued a lot, and as she described it herself, Turner became somewhat of a “rebel”.
Tina Turner – moving to St. Louis
During her teenage years, Tina also worked as a nurse’s assistant, looking after small children.
“My mother thought I would become either a nurse or a teacher, but in my heart of hearts, I knew those paths wouldn’t be mine,” she told HBR.
“I did love singing and dancing as a child, and everyone told me how much they enjoyed hearing me sing. But I never thought much of becoming a professional singer until I was older.”
Once in St. Louis, she spent a lot of her time at Club Manhattan, and in 1956, she’d meet a person that would change her life many times over.
Rock n’ Roll icon Ike Turner often played at the club, with a band Kings of Rhythm. Tina started to hang out with the group.
One day, the drummer set the microphone down in front of her, and when she started to sing, Ike came running up to her. The band came back and everyone heard the wonderful voice that Tina had.
She was the real star, and started to perform with the group. Soon, she was the main attraction that everyone wanted to see sing.
Ike made her change her name
Above all others, Ike Turner recognized the star potential in Tina.
“Ike recorded a demo, and I sang on it,” she said. “He wasn’t trying to sell my voice; he was trying to sell stuff as a producer. The record company said, “Why don’t you record it with the girl’s voice?” As a result, I became, officially, a professional performer. I was twenty, and my kid was about two.”
But Ike also wanted to change a pretty big part of Tina. At the time, she was still Anna Mae. But not for long.
“Ike’s problem was that he was a musician that always wanted to be a star, and he was a star locally but never internationally,” Tina Turner told Oprah Winfrey.
“So he then changed the name to Ike and changed my name to Tina, because if I ran away, Tina was his name. It was patented. So he could own me.”
The two soon engaged in a sexual relationship. However, it wasn’t something Tina really wanted at the time. Looking back, she thinks it was meant to be.
“I started to feel something, and he started to touch me. I really didn’t like it because he was my brother, my friend,” she explained. “Actually, maybe I wouldn’t have been here today if I hadn’t gotten into a relationship with him because we were very close as friends.”
Tina Turner – turning into a star
With the track titled A Fool In Love, Tina got her big breakthrough, alongside Ike.
The song became a huge success. Soon, it was near the top of the pop charts all over the US. It lead to Tina going on her first big tour, called The Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Before long, more music was released.
Tina and Ike became known for their electric stage performances, and songs like It’s Gonna Work Out Fine and Poor Fool took them to the next level.
At this time, Tina and Ike also took their relationship to the next level, tying the knot in Mexico in 1962.
Ike and Tina’s careers were going straight upwards. But heading into the 1970s, Tina wanted to try something else. She was hit with difficult times, both on a personal and professional level, and reached a point where she wanted to write her own songs.
“I wanted to do something to help get us out of our career slump, so I decided to try songwriting,” Turner recalled. “I started with the topic I knew best: my own life, I wrote about my hometown of Nutbush in what became the 1973 hit Nutbush City Limits.
Start of solo career
“Soon after, when I started practicing Buddhism, I also wrote some spiritual songs, but I never finished them. Fortunately, I got another chance to create spiritual music.”
In 1978, Tina and Ike got a divorce. It was time for her to get on with her solo career, though that would endure a slow start. Turner was short on money, and to be able to care for her children, she used food stamps and even cleaned houses.
Later on, she revealed that her’s had been a marriage full of abuse.
“The divorce, I got nothing. No money, no house. So I said, ‘I’ll just take my name.’”
However, Tina would rise again. She climbed back up to being a household name, releasing many albums and heading out on major tours. She was –just as in the beginning of her career – electric on stage, giving her audience a majestic show every night!
“For me, being onstage was the best—a great exchange of energy with each person in the audience,” she recalled.
“Afterward, it often felt like a blur of color, light, joy, and visions of the many smiling faces who had come to see me. Of course, we also had the usual pre-show routines and sound checks!”
Tina Turner – hits and awards
She has sold out stadiums times and times again, created number one hit songs such as What’s Love Got To Do With It and Simply The Best, and received 8 Grammy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In addition, Turner was also inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, as well as earning 3 Grammy Hall of Fame Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2008, Tina Turner went out on the road for her “Tina! 50th Anniversary Tour.” It became one of the highest-selling ticketed shows of 2008 and 2009, though she announced that it would be her final tour. Later, she retired from the music business.
But although Tina Turner officially left the spotlight, she has also struggled with several life-threatening health issues since.
In 2013 she suffered a stroke, and then she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and kidney failure. Following the cancer diagnosis, she underwent surgery to remove part of her colon.
Life-threatening health issues
It was a success, but she learned that she would also need a kidney transplant.
While she didn’t initially share her struggles with the public, she wrote about them in her memoir, Tina Turner: My Love Story, which was published in late 2018.
“I began to think about death. If my kidneys were going, and it was time for me to die, I could accept that. It was OK. When it’s time, it’s really time. I didn’t mind the thought of dying, but I was concerned about how I would go,” she wrote.
Luckily, she was able to receive a kidney transplant from her current husband, Erwin Bach. In April 2017, they both underwent surgery.
“I know that my medical adventure is far from over,” Turner wrote. “But I’m still here — we’re still here, closer than we ever imagined. I can look back and understand why my karma was the way it was. Good came out of bad. Joy came out of pain. And I have never been so completely happy as I am today.”
On her 80th birthday, she gave another update on her health in the form of a video.
“Yes, I made it,” she said. “I look great. I feel good. I’ve gone through some very serious sicknesses that I’m overcoming, so it’s like having a second chance at life.”
Final goodbye to her fans
Now, Tina Turner will tell her life story once and for all. HBO will soon release the new film Tina, in which Turner will speak about her career.
However, this will also be the last we see of her. According to her husband, Erwin Bach, Tina will use the film as an opportunity to say goodbye to her fans all over the world, and once and for all, “bow out” of the public eye.
In the new film, Tina and her husband are seen visiting the Broadway premiere of her stage show The Tina Turner Story, as Erwin says on-camera: “She said, ‘I’m going to America to say goodbye to my American fans and I’ll wrap it up’. And I think this documentary and the play, this is it — it’s a closure,” according to The Sun.
Tina Turner’s life story is quite something, and it’s hard to believe that she will turn 82 this year. We love her for all the wonderful music, and for the way she has contributed to the world.
We wish her all the best, she really deserves it. Please, share this story with friends and family to honor Tina Turner!