"Only the strong survive" – the soul song of the same name by Jerry Butler seems to express only a triviality. But if you look at the life and career of Tina Turner, you know how little survival can be taken for granted, even for the strong and even the strongest. Tina Turner was undoubtedly one of the most powerful, both humanly and artistically.
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Anna Mae Bullock, as she was actually called, was still a young woman when the already experienced entertainer Ike Turner took her from the small town of Nutbush in Tennessee into the world of show business – an almost bonnie-and-clyde-like event.
She sang her heart out
Since 1960, Ike and Tina Turner have brought one of the most exciting rhythm and blues revues to America's stages, almost night after night; Tina was already the mother of four children at a young age, was bullied and beaten by Ike, as can be read later in her autobiography, which threw off an oppressive film, but gritted her teeth, sang her heart out, most fiercely on the Phil Spector-produced record "River Deep, Mountain High" (1967), wrote, probably more for herself, the biggest Ike and Tina Turner hit "Nutbush City Limits" (1973), an irresistibly stomping song with a siren-like howling synthesizer – until she just couldn't take it anymore and in 1976, after what she said was 16 years of serfdom and practically penniless, she ran away never to be seen again with the monster and musical genius Ike.
And at some point, in the early eighties, Mick Jagger, whom she had once taught to dance, attended one of the concerts of his favorite singer in New York – so Tina Turner became a star for a second time, now in completely different dimensions. Their record "Private Dancer" (1984) with the smash hit "What's Love Got To Do With it" marked their second, real breakthrough and, as a document of an almost overproduced mainstream soul, the beginning of what has since been called "contemporary R&B".
Mariah Carey and Beyoncé are her students
Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and many others are her students, whom she paved the way for with her cliché-shy, but unshakably self-confident female habitus. Beyond popular music, she probably did more than any other entertainer for female self-esteem in the eighties and nineties, when she herself was long out of the woods.
At that time, the hit series just didn't want to stop: "Typical Male", "Two People", "Steamy Windows", "I Don't want to Loose You" and then especially the top hits "We Don't Need Another Hero" and "The Best", all performed with a lush instrumentation in which nothing was left to chance, intoned with a sometimes throaty purring, sometimes frenetically screeching voice, almost all of the time in overdrive, you could almost say: like once at Ike's side.
She will be remembered as a superstar
In this highly commercialized phase of her career, which also threw off a spectacular role in one of the "Mad Max" films and, accolade for every pop performer, the great James Bond song "Golden Eye", she carried out, at the same time as Michael Jackson, the final bridge of the originally black soul to the white audience. Hopefully, it does not mean pouring water into the wine when one asks whether and to what extent this is not a betrayal of something that was once recorded under ghetto music and now, polished to such a high gloss, was almost unrecognizable.
So be it. This does not change Tina Turner's integrity and even more so her immense professionalism. Relatively late, she became the absolute superstar, as which she will probably be remembered forever. For a long time, it was impossible to imagine that this vital, life-oriented woman would no longer exist. But it's true: Tina Turner has now died, 83 years young.