By Staff writer

Loved and Lost: Tina Turner (1939-2023)

She was born Anna Mae Bullock, a poor black girl from the rural backwater of Nutbush in Tennessee, USA.

But there was no hiding her talent and in the early ‘60s she teamed up with the man who was to become her husband, Ike Turner, to make loud, raucous and beautiful hits like River Deep, Mountain High — possibly the greatest rock song of all time.

To capture the full impact of one of the most dynamic rockers to grace the stage, this is how the rock writer Nik Cohn in his epic rock and roll history Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom described a Tina Turner performance at a London club in the ‘60s. 

“She’s a great big woman with long black hair right down her back and a beautiful snarling animal face and a truly cosmic arse. Not pretty but sexual as hell.

“All this time, Ike Turner, her husband, plays guitar behind her and looks mean, a neat little man with a goatee and sad cynical eyes.

“I was standing right under the stage.

“So, Tina started whirling and pounding and screaming, melting by the minute, and suddenly she came thundering down on me like an avalanche, backside first, all that flesh shaking and leaping in my face.

“And I reared back in self-defence, all the front rows did, and then someone fell over and we all immediately collapsed in a heap, struggling and cursing, thrashing about like fish in a bucket.

“When I looked back up again, Tina was still shaking above us, her butt was still exploding, and she looked down on us in triumph.

“So sassy, so smug and evil. She’d used her arse as a bowling ball, us as skittles, and she’d scored a strike.

“Smart woman: her flesh dissolving and her hair all flying and her big man-eater teeth flashing. She ate us all for breakfast.”

Tina and Ike were a chart-topping pair through the ‘60s and early ‘70s. But she broke with him in a highly publicised case of spousal abuse. 

In her 2018 autobiography Turner described Ike’s attempts to control her, economically and psychologically before she was eventually able to leave him.

After the divorce in 1978 she was left with nothing but the rights to her stage name.

Several low years were to follow before she came roaring back to become one of the defining stars of the 1980s, with the album Private Dancer and a number of triumphant world tours.

She retired from touring in 2009.

On Wednesday after a long illness, the Queen of Rock ‘n Roll passed away peacefully at her home in Switzerland. “With her, the world loses a music legend and role model,” her family said in a statement.

And that’s an understatement.


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