Born Anna Mae Bullock to a mixed race couple (African American, Navajo and Cherokee) in the segregated south and raised as a Baptist, her family were share-croppers and her parents fought constantly. Anna Mae was 10 when she and her elder sister were abandoned by their mother, and thirteen when their father left.
Anna Mae was raised by her sister, her cousins and her grandmother. When her grandmother died, Anna Mae moved to St. Louis, Missouri, for a reunion with her estranged mother.
For Anna Mae, now a precocious 16-year-old, the move opened the door to a new world of Rhythm and Blues, of music and nightclubs, and she was smitten. It wasn't long before she came to know Ike Turner's band The Kings of Rhythm, who played at Club Manhattan, which she used to frequent. It was during a performance of theirs, in 1956, that the young Anna Mae was called on stage to sing. She shone with a natural talent for performing, which caught Ike's eye.
Anna Mae began to hang around with the band and her interest in music grew stronger than her previous aspirations to become a nurse. She had a relationship with The Kings of Rhythm saxophonist, Raymond Hill, with whom she had a son, Craig, born in 1958.
Two years later, her break into music finally came, the day a singer failed to turn up for Ike's recording session of ‘A Fool in Love' (1960). He asked Anna Mae to provide the vocals, fully intending to later replace them. Ike quickly changed his mind when he heard her spine-tingling rendition of the song. That was the moment that Ike decided to make Anna Mae his. He changed her name to Tina Turner, and when ‘A Fool in Love' became a hit, he made her a full band member. In his eyes, she was a necessary part in his quest for international stardom. Ike also made Tina his wife in 1960 and their son, Ronnie, was born in 1964.
During the 1960s, Ike and Tina recorded a number of hits, including the legendary ‘River Deep, Mountain High' with producer Phil Spector
, and their signature hit ‘Proud Mary' (1971). Their live shows, filled with high-energy performances, had quickly become the talk of the soul circuit and were known by a new name: The Ike and Tina Turner Revue. They toured successfully throughout the decade, including in England, where they toured with the Rolling Stones. In all appearances, the Turner couple were a resounding success, both personally and professionally. Unfortunately, they hid a dark secret: Ike was excessive with drink and drugs, and domineering and violent with Tina.
As a result of the frequent beatings from Ike, Tina had to have reconstructive surgery to her nose. After years of his complete dominance over her, and an unsuccessful suicide attempt, Tina finally left Ike in 1974, accusing him of abuse and drug addiction. All she had with her when she walked out was 36 cents and a petrol card. Their divorce was only finalised in 1978. She wrote about it all in her autobiography "I, Tina", which was made into the movie "What's Love Got to Do with It" (1993). Ike was later convicted on drug related charges and served time in a California State Prison.
Whilst Tina had made a number of documentaries since the mid-1960s, as well as one film, "Taking Off" (1971), it was her show-stopping role as the Acid Queen in the Who's film, "Tommy" (1975), that really gave her the courage to strike out on her own. Fighting her way through debt and disinterest, Tina met young Australian manager, Roger Davies, who was to help her get back in touch with her raunchiness and intuitive soulfulness, in preparation for her solo comeback. She hasn't looked back since.
For the next decade, Tina recorded only occasionally, releasing her album "Acid Queen" in 1975 and following that with a cameo role in the film "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1978). Two more albums followed, "Rough" (1978) and "Love Explosion" (1979).
In 1982, Tina won a solo deal with Capitol Records. They released the album "Private Dancer" in 1984 and by that summer, world sales reached 11 million. Tina had truly reached the big time, on her own. The "Private Dancer" (1984) album had no less than three top ten singles: ‘Private Dancer', ‘Better Be Good To Me', and the massive ‘What's Love Got To Do With It?', which spent three weeks at number one on the charts. This single was later winner of a Grammy award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (February 1985); joint winner, with Terry Britten, of Grammy award for Record Of The Year (February 1985); covered by rapper Warren G, along with Adina Howard, for the "Supercop" (1995) soundtrack; and sampled by Rapper Fat Joe to use in his hit single ‘What's Luv?' (2001), featuring Ashanti.
Following this resounding success, a year later, Tina played the role of Aunty Entity in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (1985) with Mel Gibson
, scoring a number two hit with the movie's theme song ‘We Don't Need Another Hero'. ‘Typical Male' (1986) and ‘Simply the Best' (1991) were memorable singles before Tina once again turned her talents to acting, in "The Last Action Hero" (1993).
Tina continued to produce albums and enjoy record-breaking concerts around the world. Rolling Stone magazine voted her 61st Greatest Rock ‘n' Roll Artist of all time. In 1991, she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On 7 October 1999, she received the Lifetime Achievement prize at the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Amongst her fans are David Bowie
, Eric Clapton
, Elton John
, Rod Stewart
, Bryan Adams, and Mark Knopfler
. In 2002, she was ranked number six on VH1's Sexiest Artists and number two on their Greatest Women of Rock ‘n' Roll.
Tina's achievements on record, on screen, and as an author are extensive. With more than fifty years in the music business, she is one of most commercially successful female rock stars to date. She had become a legend in her own time, with her powerful voice – sometimes gritty, sometimes sultry, always attention-grabbing, her incredible legs, her huge hair, and her time-tested beauty, she makes an unforgettable story of a very special lady.
Tina has been living with her partner, record executive Erwin Bach, since 1986 and they've been resident in Zurich, Switzerland, since 1994. Carey Latimore