Tina Turner

Tina Turner

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After almost fifty years in the music business, Tina Turner has become one of the most commercially-successful international female rock stars to date. Her sultry, powerful voice, her incredible legs, her time-tested beauty and her unforgettable story all contribute to her legendary status. Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, in Haywood County, Tennessee, to Zelma Priscilla (Currie) and Floyd Richard Bullock. Her family were sharecroppers. Tina was raised in the segregated South. She and her elder sister were abandoned by their sparring parents early on, and were then raised by their grandparents. After her grandmother's death, she eventually moved to St. Louis, Missouri to reunite with her mother. This opened up a whole new world of R&B nightclubs to the precocious 16-year-old. Called up to sing on-stage with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm in 1956, she displayed a natural talent for performing which the band leader was keen to develop. Soon, Anna Mae's aspirations of a nursing career were forgotten and she began to hang around with the group. When the singer booked to record "A Fool in Love" failed to turn up for the session, Ike drafted in Anna Mae to provide the vocal with the intention of removing it later. However, once he heard her spine-tingling performance of the song, he soon changed his plans. He changed her name to Tina Turner and when the record became a hit, Tina became a permanent fixture in Ike's band and his quest for international stardom. One thing led to another: they were married in Mexico between the births of Tina's two sons - the first a result of an earlier relationship with a musician, the second with Ike. Before too long the Ike and Tina Turner Revue was tearing up large and small R&B and soul venues throughout the early and mid-1960s. The hits were relatively few, but the unsurpassed energy and excitement generated by the live stage show (read: Tina) made the Revue a solid touring act, along with the likes of James Brown and Ray Charles. Their greatest attempt to "cross over" came in 1966 with the historic recording of the Phil Spector production, "River Deep, Mountain High". While it was a commercial flop in the United States, it was a monster hit in Europe - and the start of Tina's European superstar status, which never faded during her long stint of relative obscurity in America in the late 1970s. The Revue entered that decade as a top touring and recording act, with Tina becoming more and more recognized as the star power behind the group's international success. Ike, while having been justly described as an excellent musician, a shrewd businessman and the initial "brains" behind the Revue, was also described (by Tina and others) as a violent, drug-addicted wife-beater who was not above frequently knocking Tina (and other women) around both publicly and privately. Despite hits such as "Proud Mary" and Tina's self-penned "Nutbush City Limits", further mainstream success eluded the group and Ike blamed Tina. After years of misery and a failed suicide attempt, Tina finally had enough in July 1976, when she fled the marriage (and the Revue) with the now-famous 36 cents and a Mobil gasoline credit card. Tina, now nearing 40, endured a long and, at times, humiliating trek back to superstardom through working many substandard gigs and performing a repertoire of current Top 40 hits and old Ike & Tina tunes in hotel ballrooms and supper clubs. She now admits she was having the time of her life at this point, simply putting together her own show and performing. She refused to wrangle for a settlement from the divorce, despite being in huge debt to all the tour promoters she had let down by fleeing the Revue. After an appearance on Olivia Newton-John: Hollywood Nights (1980), Tina - in a wise business move - persuaded Newton-John's management team to take her on. With Roger Davies at her side, Tina's profile began to rise, and performances alongside the likes of Rod Stewart and The Rolling Stones introduced her to the rock market she so wanted to pursue. The European release of her cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" in 1983 was a major turning point in Tina's career. The record hit #6 in the British chart and Capitol Records were soon demanding a full album. "Private Dancer" was hurriedly produced in England in two weeks flat. The rest is rock and roll history. The next single - "What's Love Got to Do with It?" - became Tina's first #1 single the following year and the album hung around the Top 10 for months, spawning two further hits. At the 1985 Grammy Awards, her astonishing comeback was recognized with nominations in the rock, R&B and pop categories and rewarded with four trophies. Since that time, the successes have just kept coming: a starring role in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985); duets with Bryan Adams, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger amongst others; several sell-out world tours; a string of hit albums and awards; a bestselling autobiography, "I, Tina"; and the blockbuster biopic What's Love Got to Do with It (1993) chronicling her life. After her "Twenty Four Seven Millenium Tour" in 2000, Tina announced she would retire from the concert stage, but continue to record and play live on a smaller scale. Four years later, at age 65, she released a career retrospective entitled "All the Best" featuring new recordings, and reached #2 in the American album chart, her highest ever placing for an album there. She ended 2005 as one of five recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, the highest form of recognition of excellence in the arts in America. Despite changing the direction of her working life, she will always be remembered as a dynamic live performer and recording artist, able to thrill audiences like no other woman in music history.

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