Tina Turner, the legendary rock and roller whose decades on top of the charts proved she is and always will be simply the best, died peacefully after a long illness on Wednesday at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. She was 83.
"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner. With her music and her boundless passion for life, she enchanted millions of fans around the world and inspired the stars of tomorrow. Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music. All our heartfelt compassion goes out to her family. Tina, we will miss you dearly."
Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on Nov. 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee, and spent her childhood in Nutbush, Tennessee, a "one-horse town" where you "have to watch what you're puttin' down," she sang in 1973's "Nutbush City Limit." The daughter of a farmer, she found escape in the nightclubs of St. Louis. There, as a teenage singer, she was discovered by Ike Turner.
It was Ike who gave her the name Tina, inspired by the character Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. As Turner went from featured singer to the star of his band, the Kings of Rhythm, he renamed the group too. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue became a sensation, garnering international acclaim in 1966 opening for the Rolling Stones on a U.K. tour.
"I'm so saddened by the passing of my wonderful friend Tina Turner," Mick Jagger said upon news of her death. "She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her."
In 1976, Turner left Ike, her then-husband, after suffering years of domestic abuse. She returned to the spotlight in 1984 with the release of her solo album, Private Dancer, which not only served as a musical comeback but launched her into pop music superstardom. Throughout the '80s, Turner scored massive hits with "What's Love Got to Do With It," "The Best" and "Better Be Good to Me."
Across her career, Turner won eight Grammy Awards — including Record of the Year in 1985 for "What's Love Got to Do with It" — and the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award, which she received in 2018. Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021, an overdue honor for the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll and one of the most successful recording artists of all time.
Over the years, Turner also briefly flirted with a career as a movie star. She made her film debut playing The Acid Queen in The Who's 1975 rock opera, Tommy. She returned to the big screen a decade later in George Miller and George Ogilvie's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, co-starring as ruthless ruler Aunty Entity opposite Mel Gibson's titular hero. The movie also featured two new singles from Turner, "We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" and "One of the Living."
Turner's greatest contribution to cinema, however, came in 1993's What's Love Got to Do With It, the biopic inspired by her life's story. Based on her 1986 autobiography I, Tina, the movie starred Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as Tina and Ike Turner, respectively, and earned the actors his and hers Oscar nominations for their performances (both as leads). For her part, Turner recorded a new song, "I Don't Wanna Fight," for the film.
"Tina Turner was an icon, whom we loved for her voice, her dancing, and her spirit," Fishburne wrote on social media. "As we honor her, let's also reflect on her resilience, and think about all the greatness that can follow our darkest days. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us, Tina. You're simply the best."
Bassett, in a statement, said, "How do we say farewell to a woman who owned her pain and trauma and used it as a means to help change the world? Through her courage in telling her story, her commitment to stay the course in her life, no matter the sacrifice, and her determination to carve out a space in rock and roll for herself and for others who look like her, Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion, and freedom should look like."
"Her final words to me — for me — were 'You never mimicked me. Instead, you reached deep into your soul, found your inner Tina, and showed her to the world.' I shall hold these words close to my heart for the rest of my days," the actress shared. "I am honored to have known Tina Turner. I am humbled to have helped show her to the world. So today, while we mourn the loss of this iconic voice and presence, she gave us more than we could have ever asked. She gave us her whole self. And Tina Turner is a gift that will always be 'simply the best.' Angels, sing thee to thy rest… Queen."