I went online on the evening of May 24 to hear the shocking news that Rock n’Roll superstar Tina Turner is dead. She died at age 83 following a long-complicated health challenge.
I first heard Tina Turner in the early 1990s. A cover version of her song What’s Love Got To Do With It played at the end credits of a movie that I am struggling to remember. That led me to searching for the original singer whom I remembered sounded different, rawer on my dad’s turntable, than the cover artiste.
I loved it. And so, I memorized her name, Tina Turner. The next time I heard Tina Turner sing was while watching the 1985 Mel Gibson movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. You have to remember that the early to mid-90s the internet use wasn’t ubiquitous in the middle to lower class family circles.
However, I watched Turner perform with many artistes on a local broadcast station, singing with rock artistes such as Rod Stewart (whom I knew and loved his music), David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Bryan Adams several other rock stars.
She was energetic, charismatic, with a lion’s mane of a hair (that she wore so naturally) and smooth, spotless legs that was long for days. Her raw, guttural voice seems to emanate from her assured struts and body defying postures across the stage. And when she took her bows, smilingly receiving her male singers kissing adulation, it felt natural. She belonged there.
I had no idea I was looking at a woman whose career spanned decades, and one that built a whole new music path for herself from Rhythm and Blues to Rock n’Roll. I had no idea she was a model of survivor for abused women, the first female and black woman Rock n’Roll singer, inducted into the Rock n’Roll Hall of Fame twice, first as a member in her ex-husband Iyke Turner, and then as a solo artiste.
That was until I watched her story in Touchstone Pictures What’s Love Got To Do With It, where American actress, Angela Bassett gave an Oscar worthy performance as Turner presented a near complete image of the artiste. Her portrait however, came together for me, when I discovered she has a happy life and marriage with her second husband, composer Erwin Bach whom she met in 1994 and wedded in 2013.
Today, I rock out to Simply The Best, when am happy, Private Dancer, and get nostalgic with We Don’t Need Another Hero all singles hits from Tina’s later career. My favourites of Ike and Tina Turner era include their version of Creedence Clearwater’s Proud Mary, River Deep Mountain High, Baby Get It On, I Idolize You, and A Fool In Love.
Tina is an inspiration all round – for being a mother to children that weren’t hers; for letting go of the bitterness to forgive the one who hurt her because it only intensified the wounds; for fearlessly pursuing and crafting a new path in music for herself that proved she has always been talented with or without her ex-husband, and for accepting her life’s path, with the hardships as part of shaped her into who she was. She is the model for women who may have had a rough beginning, that they can make a turnaround, that their past does not dictate their future, and to be inspired to pursue the future they want.
This is the Tina Turner that I know, and keep will keep with me.