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Tina Turner, "The Queen of Rock n Roll", Passed Away At 83 Years Old Today

NY Times - Tina Turner, the earthshaking soul 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, died on Wednesday at her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, near Zurich. She was 83.

Her publicist Bernard Doherty announced the death in a statement but did not provide the cause. She had a stroke in recent years and was known to be struggling with a kidney disease and other illnesses.

One of my favorite inspirational stories, illustrating that it's never too late to make something happen, is the story of how Tina Turner didn't start her solo career until she was 41 years old. The courage it took for her to step out of her abusive husband's shadow, having not even a place to live or a dollar to her name after divorcing him, and becoming the oldest "new" solo artist to reach #1 on the Billboard charts in history is remarkable.

If you haven't seen the HBO Doc Tina yet, give it a watch these next few days. It will blow your mind what this woman accomplished.

Born as Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in the charming town of Brownsville, Tenn., Tina spent her early years on the Poindexter farm in Nutbush. Singing her heart out in the choir of the Spring Hill Baptist Church, she discovered her passion for music. Her father, Floyd, who was known by his middle name, Richard, worked as the farm's overseer, and her parents, Floyd and Zelma Bullock, had a complicated relationship. And they left Tina and her younger sister with relatives when they went to work on a military installation during World War II. Eventually, Tina reunited with her mother in St. Louis and attended Sumner High School in the city. But the real excitement began when she and her sister Alline started frequenting the Manhattan Club in East St. Louis. They became obsessed with the bands and the singers, and the club's staff let them hang out as long as they pretended to hide and not get in the way. Little did they know, destiny was about to strike.

One fateful night, during a break in Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm's performance, the drummer, Eugene Washington, handed Tina the microphone. And what happened next was pure magic. With her petite frame, no one expected such a powerful voice to emerge, belting out B.B. King's "You Know I Love You," which Mr. Turner had produced. 

Ike couldn't believe his ears.

From that moment on, Tina became Ike's secret weapon, performing as a backup singer under the name "Little Ann." But fate had more in store for her. When the group's lead singer, Art Lassiter, failed to show up for the recording of "A Fool in Love," Tina fearlessly stepped in and saved the day. And guess what? The song became an instant hit, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 27 on the pop chart.

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Mr. Turner gave his protégée — who by now was also his romantic partner — a new name, Tina, inspired by the television character Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. And he renamed the group the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

With their new name, they hit the road as one of the hottest soul acts on the vibrant "chitlin' circuit", delighting black audiences across the nation. Things really took off for them when the Rolling Stones themselves invited this dynamic duo to join them on tour. Suddenly, folks of all colors were turning their heads to glimpse Tina's mesmerizing performances.

Tina Turner, never one to shy away from a challenge, insisted on adding rock songs by the Beatles and the Stones to her repertoire. Her rebellious spirit paid off big time when she rocked the charts with her rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary" in 1971. That smash hit earned her the Ike and Tina Turner Revue's first Top 10 spot and even bagged her a shiny Grammy Award for the best R&B vocal performance by a group.

While their music thrived, their marriage had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ride. Unfortunately, the late 1970s saw their heartbreaking breakup, leaving Ms. Turner's career in limbo. Ike was physically, verbally, and mentally abusive. A raging alchoholic and drug user, he threatened to kill Tina several times, putting her in the hospital, and telling her if she ever left him he'd make sure she had nothing to her name and would be living on the streets. (For some reason, she believed this for a long time). 

After she walked out on her marriage, encumbered with debt, Ms. Turner struggled to build a solo career, appearing in ill-conceived cabaret acts, before signing with Roger Davies, the manager of Olivia Newton-John, in 1979. Guided by Mr. Davies, she returned to the gritty, hard-rocking style that had made her a crossover star and would propel her through the coming decades as one of the most durable performers on the concert stage.

Her fellow artists took notice. In 1982, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, of the band and production company known as the British Electric Foundation, recruited her to record the Temptations’ 1970 hit “Ball of Confusion” for an album of soul and rock covers backed by synthesizers. Its success led to a second collaboration, a remake of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” A surprise hit in the United States and Britain, it was the turning point that led to “Private Dancer.”

Tina came back with a bang in 1984 with her solo album, "Private Dancer." With the album's success she returned to the limelight and soared into the pop stratosphere

Teaming up with talented young songwriters and backed by a lusciously smooth synthesized sound, Tina unleashed three colossal hits: the iconic title track penned by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, 

the irresistible "Better Be Good to Me," 

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and the soulful anthem "What's Love Got to Do With It." 

And wouldn't you know it? At the 1985 Grammy Awards, "What's Love Got to Do With It" snatched up three shiny trophies, including Record of the Year! Not to be outdone, "Better Be Good to Me" took home the prize for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

That same year she starred in the 3rd Mel Gibson hit “Mad Max: Beyond The Thunderdome”, and knocked out two more smash hits for the films soundtrack-

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"Private Dancer" also waltzed its way into the hearts of millions, selling a staggering five million copies worldwide. Tina embarked on a globetrotting tour, leaving audiences awestruck wherever she went. 

In 1988, she even broke a Guinness World Record by performing before a staggering crowd of 180,000 people at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Can you imagine the energy in that place?

And the accolades just kept piling up. Her "Twenty-Four Seven" tour in 2000 raked in over $100 million in ticket sales, solidifying her status as the unrivaled queen of live performances. Guinness World Records crowned her as the solo artist with the most concert tickets sold in history.

In the past years she remarried and moved with her new husband, who was Greek, to Switzerland. She retired and un-retired several times, making her most notable appearance of late at the 2008 Grammy awards with Beyonce.

She launched a Broadway show about her life “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” a stage show based on her life and incorporating many of her hits that's been a mainstay in London, NYC, and Hamburg for years. 

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She was also inducted into the Rock n Roll hall of fame as a member of her and Ike’s group, and as a solo artist.

She also dropped this reworked version of "What's Love Got To Do With It" with Kygo.

Another massive voice and musical inspiration to so many artists of today now lost. I don’t think my generation really knew just how big-time Tina was. Rest in peace to one of the greats, Tina Turner.