Tina Turner, singer, 1939-2023
When Tina Turner sang a song, she sang. The Tennessee-born singer, who died at 83, brought the tradition of blues and gospel screams to the amplified world of rock ‘n’ soul in the 1960s. Her vocal style pushed things to the limit, a sublime place but risky where words flirted with the chaos of pure sound. She witnesses the electrifying howl with which she seizes the word “proud” in one of her best-known songs, “Proud Mary.”
Few have matched his estimated record sales of 100 million, or his assertiveness behind a microphone. But what was being asserted? Born in 1939, Turner grew up in the American South during the Jim Crow era, the daughter of black sharecroppers. However, she did not become a leading voice in the civil rights movement like her contemporary Aretha Franklin. There was a more fiercely compacted quality to her directness. She was an expression of drive, a determination to be heard no matter what the obstacle.
“You take away my ties, my problems, my hangups, my egos, and I can fly,” he told the LA Times in 1984. “I can laugh, I can dance, I can sing and not get tired. Freedom. That’s my motivation.”
For the white rockers who copied it, freedom was a rhetorical concept. For Turner, it had urgent practical significance. He not only grew up in a southern state at a time of legalized racism, but also entered a branch of the music business in which men choreographed and controlled young female singers.
Raised as Anna Mae Bullock, she was given the stage name Tina by R&B bandleader Ike Turner, who recruited her after hearing her sing in a St. Louis nightclub in 1957. By the time they married in 1962, she had married. moved back. even lead vocalist. Ike designed her as an eroticized primitive, choosing “Tina” to rhyme with the comic book heroine Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. “Ike would always make me scream and scream on his songs, selling them out,” he said in his memoir. me, tub.
Phil Spector was the first producer to notice the quality of her singing. “He told me that he had an extremely unusual voice, that he had never heard a woman’s voice like mine,” he recalled. He paid $20,000 to sign the Turners to his stamp. Under his aegis, they made “River Deep — Mountain High” in 1966. It featured a stormy voice from Turner, competing operatically with Spector’s towering instrumentation. The producer rated the song among his best.
Supporting the Rolling Stones on tours in 1966 and 1969 brought the married duo a crossover audience. “Proud Mary,” originally by rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, was her biggest hit, selling more than 1 million copies in 1971. The singer’s uninhibited stage presence was admired by rock leaders like Mick Jagger. Her dance moves had an unbridled energy, closer in spirit to James Brown than the punchy moves of a Motown act or girl group.
Behind the outward signs of success, Turner’s marriage was ruined by Ike’s violence towards her. When she attempted suicide with sleeping pills, she noticed her and found him yelling, “You should die.” In 1976, she left him, a decision she attributed to her faith in Buddhism. (Spector, who was later convicted of the murder of a woman in her home, denounced Turner at her ex-husband’s funeral in 2007.) Her decision left her in debt and pursuing a flop solo career, until one of the most remarkable comebacks in pop history.
turner album private dancer It came out in 1984 when I was 40 years old. Made in the UK, a common haven for US soul stars in the upper parts of her, she rebooted her for an era of synths and MTV. Her voice was no less resonant in this new landscape, revealing a gift for storytelling and role-playing. The album went multi-platinum, elevating her into the ranks of the biggest names in pop.
The singer’s streak of hits continued throughout the decade, with a particular specialization in air-pounding empowerment anthems like “The Best.” In 1995 she moved to Switzerland, where she obtained citizenship in 2013 after marrying her second husband, Erwin Bach. She is survived by him and her two adopted children.
Her reputation as an archetypal survivor was polished by the Hollywood biopic. What does love have to do? and the jukebox musical Tub. Behind that generic story lies individual talent, a commanding and inimitable voice. “Whatever you want in life, you can have it,” he said in 1979, before his big comeback. “All you have to do is say it, demand it; your will can make it happen. Human beings are very powerful.”