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Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll Tina Turner Dies at 83, Leaving Behind Unforgettable Legacy

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KÜSNACHT, Switzerland — Tina Turner, the soul powerhouse whose rasping vocals, explosive energy and sexual magnetism propelled her to the summit of the music world, died on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at her home in Küsnacht, near Zurich. She was 83.

Her death was announced by her publicist, Bernard Doherty, who revealed she had suffered a “long illness”.

“Tina Turner, the “Queen of Rock’n Roll” has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model,” Doherty wrote. “There will be a private funeral ceremony attended by close friends and family. Please respect the privacy of her family at this difficult time.”

Embarking on a career spanning over five decades in the late 1950s, Ms Turner began captivating audiences while she was still attending high school in East St. Louis, Illinois. She joined Ike Turner’s band, the Kings of Rhythm, initially as an occasional performer but quickly emerged as the group’s star attraction — and Mr Turner’s wife.

Ms Turner’s potent, bluesy voice and frenetic dance style made her an instant sensation. “Listen closely to Tina and who do you hear? Little Richard singing in the female voice,” Ike Turner wrote in his autobiography, “Takin’ Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner” (1999).

Renamed as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, they became a premier touring soul act on the Black venues of the so-called chitlin’ circuit. But it wasn’t until the Rolling Stones invited them to open for them that the ensemble broke through to white listeners in Britain and America.

Ms Turner, who incorporated rock songs by the Beatles and the Stones into her repertoire, expanded her audience significantly. Her take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” in 1971 gave the Ike and Tina Turner Revue its first Top 10 hit and a Grammy Award for best R&B vocal performance by a group.

However, her marriage to Ike Turner was troubled, and her career waned after their painful separation in the late 1970s. But she returned to prominence in 1984 with the album “Private Dancer,” producing three huge hits and winning her several Grammy Awards.

Indeed, Turner’s remarkable resurgence in the mid-1980s was solidified at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards in 1985. Her smash hit “What’s Love Got to Do With It” swept three major categories: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. This marked a triumphant comeback, underlining her enduring appeal and immense talent.

Her energetic and empowering anthem “Better Be Good To Me” further cemented her hold on the music industry by securing the award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Turner’s commanding stage presence, combined with her gritty, soulful voice, was a force to be reckoned with in the rock genre, traditionally dominated by male artists.

These successes at the Grammy Awards affirmed Turner’s status as a versatile, trailblazing artiste whose work transcended genre boundaries. This recognition highlighted the transformative second act of her career, demonstrating her timeless appeal and securing her legacy in the annals of music history.

The album’s success ignited a touring career that made Ms Turner a global phenomenon. In 1988, she performed for an audience of about 180,000 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, setting a record for the largest paying audience for a solo artist.

Guinness World Records announced in 2000 that she had sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history after her “Twenty Four Seven” tour grossed over $100 million.

Tina Turner’s trailblazing career, marked by her distinct raspy voice and her untamed energy on stage, leaves an indelible mark on the world of music. She will be remembered not just as a soul and rock legend but also as a symbol of resilience and reinvention.

Turner’s move to Switzerland in the mid-1990s was in part due to her burgeoning relationship with German music executive, Erwin Bach. Their love story began in 1985 when they met at an EMI record label party in London. They moved in together shortly thereafter and, after nearly three decades of companionship, they solidified their commitment to each other in July 2013, when they tied the knot in a star-studded ceremony at their Kuesnacht estate on the shores of Lake Zurich.

Embracing her new home, Turner took the substantial step of applying for Swiss citizenship. The process was completed in April 2013 when she officially became a Swiss citizen.

Concurrently, she made the significant decision to relinquish her American citizenship. The local Zuerichsee-Zeitung newspaper reported the granting of Turner’s citizenship in an official notice published in their Friday edition, a move that still required approval from cantonal (state) and federal authorities.

In the midst of her personal reinvention and embracing her new Swiss identity, Turner faced a painful blow. Her eldest son, Craig Raymond Turner, tragically took his own life in July 2018 at the age of 59.

From her relationship with saxophonist Raymond Hill, Craig was adopted by Ike Turner after their marriage. The loss was felt deeply by Turner, who maintained a close relationship with her son despite the challenges of her globe-trotting career. The heartbreak of her son’s death added a somber note to Turner’s otherwise triumphant later years in Switzerland.

Tina Turner lost her son, Ronnie, to colon cancer in December 2022 at the age of 62. He was survived by his wife, Afida Turner (née Hafidda Messaï). He had two children.

Ronnie was her youngest and only biological child shared with Ike Turner, her first husband. One day after he passed, She shared a tribute to him on Instagram. “Ronnie, you left the world far too early,” she wrote. “In sorrow I close my eyes and think of you. My beloved son.”

 

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