Legendary singer Tina Turner dies at 83

Tina Turner performs onstage at the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois on June 12, 1984
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Tina Turner, an iconic, enormously influential singer who bridged the gap between rock n' roll, R&B, soul, and even country, has died at the age of 83, her family confirmed. 

“Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock & Roll’ has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland,” Turner's family said in a statement. “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

Over the course of her illustrious, decades-long career, Turner sold over 100 million records and earned 12 Grammy awards. 

Turner was unafraid to lend her magnetic voice to songs of all kinds, and was just as popular with rock audiences as she was with those more inclined to pop or R&B.

Born Anna Mae Bullock on Nov. 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee, Turner moved to St. Louis as a teen. It was in neighboring East St. Louis, Illinois that Turner – who sang in church choirs as a child – first met guitarist Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm band.

Amazed by Turner's vocal prowess, Ike Turner gave her spot in the band as a backing, and later lead, vocalist. By 1960, Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm became the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

Though popular as a live act, crossover commercial success – even from songs like the critically acclaimed, Phil Spector-produced River Deep, Mountain High – eluded the Turners for much of the '60s.

In 1971, though, the Turners (whose artistic relationship developed into a romantic one in the early '60s) scored a massive crossover hit with a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Proud Mary. That song, plus multiple stints opening for The Rolling Stones, brought them a new following.

Weary, however, of Ike Turner's drug problems and ongoing physical abuse, Tina Turner split from him, and the Revue, in the mid-'70s.

Though her solo career initially languished, she found her footing with Private Dancer, a 1984 LP that featured songwriting contributions from Mark Knopfler (for the album's title track), and the chart-topping smash, What’s Love Got to Do With It.

Private Dancer (the song) also happened to feature a solo from one Jeff Beck, who once said – in his typically nonchalant manner – of his contribution, "I added some screeching guitar and she had her biggest album ever.”

Just two years later, Beck's fellow guitar hero, Eric Clapton, would recruit Turner for his song, Tearing Us Apart.

Turner remained popular through the 1990s – a decade that saw her collaborate with U2's Bono and the Edge on the hit theme song for the 1995 James Bond film, Goldeneye, and the 2000s, a decade she began with the Twenty Four Seven” tour, for which over $100 million in tickets were sold.

"I’m so saddened by the passing of my wonderful friend Tina Turner," wrote Mick Jagger on Twitter following the news of Turner's death. "She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her."

"God bless you Tina, the Queen Of Rock And Soul and a dear friend to our family," added Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. "Love and prayers to all of Tina’s family, friends and loved ones."

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.