Tina Turner – Simply the Best!
Music diva, Tina Turner, died on 24 May 2023, aged 83. It is reported she had a stroke in recent years and was struggling with kidney disease and other illnesses. Prior to her death, she had lived in Küsnacht, Switzerland – near Zurich – for more than a decade, with her second husband, Erwin Bach, who she married in 2013. She became a Swiss citizen the same year.
But for those who have been living in a cave, it would be surprising if any person did not know of, and for the most part loved the music of Tina Turner. Writing an obituary in the “New York Times”, William Grimes aptly described her as:
…the earth-shaking singer whose rasping vocals, sexual magnetism and explosive energy made her an unforgettable live performer and one of the most successful recording artists of all time.
Even more importantly she was a survivor of spousal domestic violence and exploitation. She never sought to hide this, being a shining example of triumph over such utterly deplorable conduct.
Turner embarked on her over 60 year career while still at high school. She initially forged a performing – and ultimately personal – relationship with musician Ike Turner. Their ensemble was “The Ike and Tina Turner Review”, and they enjoyed their first top ten hit in 1971 with Turner’s vibrant version of the Credence Clearwater Revival piece “Proud Mary”. That won them a Grammy Award.
Turner’s abusive relationship with Ike Turner came to an end whilst she was in her thirties, and her career spiralled down.
In 1984 as a 45 year old, she revived her career, regaining her mojo, embarking upon a spectacularly successful solo career with the release of her album “Private Dancer”. That album included the classic “What’s love got to do with it”. At the 1985 Grammy Awards that song won 3 awards, for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The album went on to sell 5 million copies.
In 1998 Turner appeared at a concert before about 180,000 people at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, breaking a record for the largest paying audience for a solo artist. In 2021 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.
All this was a long way from her birth on 26 November 1939 as Anna Mae Bullock, in Brownsville, north-east of Memphis, Tennessee. Her early years were spent on the Poindexter farm in Nutbush, near Brownsville, where her father was a farm manager and she sang in the choir of the local Baptist Church.
Every reader, of whatever age, will – or should – remember dancing to Turner’s 1960’s hit “Nutbush”.
Turner had a close professional association with Australia in the 1980s and 1990s with her performances on ABC’s “Countdown” music segment and in promotion of the National Rugby League. Most will remember the NRL promotional campaigns of the early 1990s, viz “What You Get is What You See” and “Simply the Best”, each fronted by Turner.
Photographs and web links with this article will bring back fond memories for older readers, and entertain younger readers, women and men, even if you are not an NRL or Tina Turner tragic. See in particular her performance at the 1993 Grand Final, with the crowd singing along; it will make you feel good about life.
Turner outlived her two children. Ike Turner died in 2007.
Vale Tina Turner.
1989 NSWRL campaign – ‘What You Get is What You See’
1990 NSWRL campaign – ‘Simply the Best’
1993 NSWRL Grand Final – ‘Simply the Best’
A photo of Tina with the NSWRL Gold Coast Seagulls in 1990 at The Spit on the Gold Coast as part of the ‘Simply the Best’ campaign:
A photo of Tina with the Brisbane Broncos after their win in 1993.