Tina Turner is a music icon that many refer to as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. While her career dates back to the 1950s, her story doesn’t start there.
Like many celebrities, Turner had an interesting life before she changed her name and attained worldwide fame. Learning more about her life helps you appreciate her as an individual and an artist.
Today, we’re looking at Tina’s story and who discovered her.
Let’s get going!
The Story of Anna Mae Bullock
Anna Mae Bullock, who would eventually go by the name Tina Turner, was born on November 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee. Music ran in her family as one of her two sisters became a successful songwriter. And she’s also first cousins with blues artist Eugene Bridges. In addition, Anna enjoyed singing in the choir at Spring Hill Baptist Church in Nutbush, Tennessee.
At the age of 11, Anna’s mother unexpectedly abandoned her family. Two years later, her father remarried, and the family moved to Detroit, Michigan. However, it wasn’t long before her dad and stepmom shipped Anna and her sisters back to Tennessee to live with their grandparents.
Despite being a self-professed tomboy, Anna looked for any opportunity to socialize. She joined the girls’ basketball team and cheerleading squad. After graduating in 1958, she worked as a nurse’s aide at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
One night in 1957, while visiting one of the many nightclubs in the area, Anna and her sister saw Ike Turner performing with his band. She wanted to perform on stage with Ike, but he ignored her request. It wasn’t until she hopped on stage during an intermission and sang You Know I Love You by blues legend B.B. King that she got Ike’s attention.
This was the start of a partnership between Ike and Anna that resulted in a name change and marriage. The couple would record great hits like It’s Gonna Work Out Fine, River Deep – Mountain High, Proud Mary, and Nutbush City Limits. The singing duo split in 1976 and divorced in 1978.
However, Turner wasn’t out of the spotlight for long when she released her album Private Dancer in 1984. The record went on to be multi-platinum and won multiple Grammy Awards in 1985.
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Tina Turner’s Best-Known Songs
After distancing herself from Ike Turner, Tina went on to experience great success on her own. She became a regular on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the oldest female solo artist on the list. Let’s look at some of her best-known songs that are worth a listen.
What’s Love Got to Do With It
What’s Love Got to Do With It was Turner’s comeback and most famous song. It was on her 1984 album Private Dancer and was later in the 1993 film that shared the name of her album. The film was based on Tina’s life and experiences.
The song details a woman in a relationship purely for the physical connection. While there are some sappy love songs, this isn’t one of them. However, listeners loved it, and it won the 1985 Grammy for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Female Vocal Performance.
The Best is the perfect song to lift your spirits and help push you through a tough day. While Bonnie Tyler originally recorded the tune, Turner covered it in 1989 and made a few changes. It quickly became a favorite for her fans and was frequently used as the backing track for celebratory and tribute videos.
The song stayed on the top charts for 14 weeks and peaked at #15. However, it remained a fan favorite in Turner’s standard setlist until she retired from music in 2009.
We Don’t Need Another Hero
We Don’t Need Another Hero is the backing for the ending credits to the 1985 movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. During this time in the film industry, the success of a movie greatly depended on having a solid hit on the soundtrack. The creators of the Mad Max series decided to do one better and include Tina in the film.
It was the perfect song for the theme of the movie as individuals yearned for freedom after experiencing a nuclear disaster. The track earned Golden Globe and Grammy nominations, but it lost to Lionel Richie and Whitney Houston.
So, Who Discovered Tina Turner?
When Anna Bullock snatched the microphone away from Ike Turner’s drummer that night in 1957, she grabbed the bandleader’s attention. Soon after, Ike began to mentor and partner with her. However, it wasn’t long before Bullock stole the spotlight from Ike. Executives were encouraging Ike to let Anna be the star of his show.
Ike went on to help craft Anna Bullock’s stage persona and gave her the name Tina. However, Ike added his last name and trademarked the brand to protect himself. He had previous singers leave him, allowing him to replace her with another Tina if needed. This was a bit of foreshadowing for the couple’s relationship and future.
Has Tina Turner Forgiven Ike?
Ike and Tina were married on November 26, 1962, in Tijuana, Mexico. The ceremony wasn’t elaborate, and Tina wasn’t 100% on board with getting married to Ike. Her relationship with Ike was incredibly toxic and filled with abuse. Nevertheless, she agreed to the wedding because she felt there was no other choice. And Tina believed saying no would only result in further abuse.
Throughout their marriage, Tina received multiple black eyes from Ike. He controlled every bit of her finances and career. She filed for divorce from him 16 years after they married. Ike eventually died from an overdose in 2007.
Despite the years of abuse, Tina told The Times that she had forgiven Ike for the emotional and physical abuse. She said, “As an old person, I have forgiven him, but it would not work with him…He asked for one more tour with me, and I said, ‘No, absolutely not.”
She described her ex-husband as not being “someone you could forgive and allow him back in. It’s all gone, all forgotten.” Once she was out of that relationship, she was out of it for good.
What is Tina Turner Doing Now?
Tina Turner retired from music in 2009 after wrapping up her 50th Anniversary Tour. She had a medical emergency in 2013 after suffering a stroke. Tina was later diagnosed with kidney failure and intestinal cancer in 2016. She released an autobiography in 2018 titled Tina Turner: My Love Story.
For the past few years, Turner’s been out of the limelight. She and her husband, Erwin Bach, live in Switzerland and do their best to stay out of the public eye. While Tina has an Instagram page, it’s mainly used to promote books, share flashbacks, and post occasional photos with Erwin. She’s enjoying life outside the spotlight and keeping her life as private as possible.
The Queen Persevered
Tina Turner is one of the greatest examples of an artist with grit and determination. She exited an abusive relationship that her entire professional career was built around. However, she went on to become a bigger and better star after leaving the baggage of her ex-husband behind.
If artists are looking for someone to admire when it comes to perseverance, Tina Turner is a great role model. She didn’t let the man who discovered her keep her from becoming the superstar she was and continues to be.
What’s your favorite Tina Turner song? Let us know in the comments below!