This Saturday marks the the 77th birthday of one of love’s greatest icons, the inimitable Tina Turner. If you haven’t heard much about Tina lately it’s because she renounced her American citizenship after relocating to Switzerland over 20 years ago. Today’s History of Sex article examines the life and loves of the trailblazing singer.
Tina was born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 in the tiny town of Nutbush, Tennessee, population 259. Young Anna started singing in church as an escape from the drama in her home. Her father abused her mother and she deserted the family as a result, leaving her two daughters to live with other family members. As teenagers Tina and her sister started going to nightclubs in St.Louis and that is where the woman formally known as Anna met the notorious Ike Turner. But before they became involved she was dating his band’s saxophonist, Raymond Hill, and even had a child with him at the young age of 18 (Ike later adopted the child and gave him his last name).
Tina’s own musical career began in 1960 with the hit song “A Fool In Love” and anyone who knows the tumultuous story of Ike & Tina knows that she was a fool in love with a controlling asshole for almost 20 years. Tina was one of Ike’s 14 wives and their relationship was filled with physical abuse and economic control. When they finally split in 1978, Tina used her newfound independence to nurture her career and become the household name that she is now.
Tina was the mature age of 45 when she released the album “Private Dancer” which launched her career into a new level. The legs, the hair, the dresses, the moxy. Tina’s comeback gave the world “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and in return in she won 4 Grammys in 1985 including Record of the Year. She went on a world tour, starred in Mad Max and continued to work steadily throughout the next 15 years. In 2000, after breaking the Guinness Book of World Records record for most concert tickets sold in music history she announced her semiretirement.
Since then Tina has been laying low with her lover Erwin Bach, whom she started dating in 1985. In 2005 she was one of the recipients of the Kennedy Centre Honors, in 2008 she was number 17 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of all time, in 2009 she went on a 50th anniversary word tour and in 2013 she became the oldest person to grace the cover of Vogue, at age 73. That same year Tina married Erwin, at their home in Switzerland, wearing a green and black Armani dress covered in Swarovski crystals (the guests wore white!). Tina stated that, “It’s that happiness that people talk about, when you wish for nothing, when you can finally take a deep breath and say, ‘Everything is good’. It’s a wonderful place to be.”
After starting from the bottom and overcoming the odds, it’s amazing to see a woman like Tina find happiness, peace and love. Happy 77th Birthday Tina, you are simply the best.