The world hadn’t seen anything quite like Tina Turner when she exploded in the late '50s as the focal point of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, a female counterpart to such primal-rock firebrands as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.
A string of hits produced by R&B band leader and songwriter Ike Turner, who had discovered her in 1956 in St. Louis and married her two years later, caught the attention of producer Phil Spector, who placed them at the center of one of his most titanic productions, “River Deep, Mountain High.” That 1966 record, built around Tina’s soaring lead vocal, originally reached only No. 88 on the pop chart, yet eventually became one of the defining singles of the rock era and was inducted into both the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The couple reached even greater heights in 1971 with their tornado-like reinvention of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” a performance that landed Turner the first of her eight career Grammy Awards. It’s the one with the spoken introduction in which she famously growled, “We never, ever do nothin’ nice and easy. We always do it nice…and rough.” That, however, also characterized her abusive marriage to Turner, and in 1976, the couple divorced.
Her remarkable second act began in 1984 with her solo album “Private Dancer,” which yielded several hit singles, including the Grammy-winning “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” Sexier than ever, she became perfect video fodder for the MTV age.
She also expanded the movie career she’d started in the '70s with her star-turn as the Acid Queen in the film version of the Who’s rock opera “Tommy” and appeared for a new generation opposite Mel Gibson in “Mad Max-Beyond Thunderdome.” Her 1986 autobiography, “I, Tina,” became a national bestseller and led to a 1993 movie biopic, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” in which Angela Bassett portrayed the resilient rock-R&B powerhouse.
After more than four decades of steady touring, in 2000 she announced her retirement from the concert trail. Reports of that retirement, like Mark Twain’s death, were exaggerated however, and she was back on the road again within a few years and continues to pour on the heat even into her 70s.
What’s age got to do with it?