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Tina Turner Facts: Insights Into The Queen of Rock ‘N’ Roll

This legendary singer has hits that spanned decades, but how much do you know about her? We’ve got a list of the best Tina Turner facts and insights into the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, so read on to find out more about this beloved music icon! 

Tina Turner Is A Stage Name 

July 31, 2006 – Sign at the grocery store in Nutbush, Tennessee. Image source: DoxTxob at the English-language Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A lot of people would be surprised to learn her real name is Anna Mae Bullock, and she was born November 26, 1939, in Nutbush, Tennessee. 

She Is African-American And 33% European 

March 1970 – Tina Turner photo taken by Al Kaplan in Miami-Dade County. Image source: Jay Bernstein Public Relations, Los Angeles., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Turner is a mixture of African-American and European descent and also has a little Native American in her too. 

Her Mother Left When She Was 11 

When Turner was just 11 years old, her mother abandoned her, her father, and her three sisters and went off to St. Louis. Her mother was being abused by her father, and instead of getting her children out of that situation, she only thought of herself and left them behind. Two years later, her father would remarry, and the girls were shipped off to live with the grandmother in Brownsville, Tennessee. 

She Played Sports In High School And Was a Cheerleader 

April 24, 2017 – Basketball backboard, rim, and ball. Image source: noahsilliman, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Turner went to Carver High School, and even though she was a tomboy, she was part of the cheerleading squad and was on the women’s/female basketball team. 

Tina Turner Moved To St. Louis With Her Mother 

Turner’s grandmother passed away when she was a teenager, and she moved to St. Louis with her mother. In 1958, she graduated from Sumner High School, and her life would soon change. 

She Would Sing at Local Nightclubs With Her Sister 

Turner started to go to the local nightclubs in St. Louis and sang with her sister, and while in the nightclub, she would have her first encounter with The Kings Of Rhythm and a man named Ike Turner. She thought he was very talented, and she wanted him to let her sing and gave him her phone number, but he didn’t call. 

Tina Turner Grabbed The Mic From A Kings Of Rhythm Band Member 

You Know I Love You

What’s interesting about how her music career really began was that one night at the club while an intermission was going on, she took the microphone from a Kings Of Rhythm band member, the drummer, and started to sing You Know I Love You by B.B. King. Ike was impressed with her singing and rougher vocal style. She continued singing that night, with it ending with Ike asking her to be a vocalist in the band. 

In 1958, She Finally Recorded a Song

Tina Turner - Boxtop featuring Ike Turner 1958 first recording

Ike would teach Turner how to have vocal control, and in 1958, she finally recorded a song called Boxtop, and she performed under the stage name Little Ann. It would be her and the singer for Kings Of Rhythm, Carlson Oliver, listed as the vocalists on this record.

She Founded Ike & Tina Turner Revue 

November 23, 1972 – Ike Turner and Tina Turner, Hamburg Germany. Image source: Heinrich Klaffs, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The group would go on to record A Fool In Love in 1960, and this would go on to hit 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and two on the R&B chart. It was at that time that Ike & Tina Turner Revue would form, which featured the Kings Of Rhythm as well as The Ikettes, a female group that would be the dancers and backup singers.

Ike & Tina Turner Get Married 

Turner and Ike would fall in love with one another while in the band together and would get married in 1962. They had a quick ceremony in Tijuana, Mexico, and he had made her attend a sex show live. This disgusted and horrified her, and this would be the beginning of the tumultuous relationship with him. 

She Tried To Kill Herself 

Not even Turner is immune to mental health struggles, and in 1968, she tried to kill herself by taking a bunch of Valium. She was miserable in her marriage and didn’t want to live anymore.

Tina Turner Finally Divorced Ike Turner In 1976 And Went Solo 

Tina Turner - Lets Stay Together (Official Music Video)

Turner decided to divorce Ike in 1976 after years of physical and mental abuse, and that is when she went solo and released her first song Let’s Stay Together in 1983. 

She Lived On Food Stamps For a While

After Turner divorced Ike, life was hard because she had two children, one with Ike named Ronnie, and one from a previous relationship named Craig. With two kids to feed, she turned to food stamps and also lived with her friends while she got back on her feet. She would turn to club gigs to help pay some bills. This would go on for around two years. 

Tina Turner Appeared On TV Shows To Pay Bills 

Cher - Shame Shame Shame (with Tina Turner) (The Cher Show, 04/27/1975)

Not only did Turner perform at clubs after her divorce from Ike to pay the bills, but she also relied on television shows to help her make ends meet. This was in the 70s so she appeared on The Cher Show as well as game shows such as Hollywood Squares. 

She Was On Stage Two Days After Giving Birth 

Talk about a strong and powerful woman, just two days after her son Ronnie was born in 1960, she was on stage performing again! For Turner, if she didn’t perform, she didn’t make money, so she was very quick to get back on stage even though she probably wasn’t in the mental or physical shape to do so.

Tina Turner Was The First Black Person To Be On The Rolling Stone’s Cover 

Interestingly, Turner became the first black person and the first female in general to land on the Rolling Stone cover. This happened in 1967 and again in 1969 by herself, with both her and Ike landing on the Rolling Stone cover in 1971. In 1984, after going solo, she would land on the cover once again and has been on the cover several times over the years since then. 

What’s Love Got To Do With It Became Her Signature Song

Tina Turner - What's Love Got To Do With It (Official Music Video)

In 1984, Turner released the song What’s Love Got To Do With It? This track would quickly become her signature song, selling over two million copies, and also earned her three Grammys.

Recommended: The best Tina Turner songs, ranked

She Didn’t Like What’s Love Got To Do With It Initially

Whats Love Got To Do With It?

Sticking with this song for a minute, Turner heard the track, which was first recorded by Bucks Fizz in a demo recording. She thought this song was horrible and didn’t want anything to do with it at first. Given how this track was what cemented her legacy as the Queen of Rock N’ Roll, it’s crazy to think she didn’t want to record this song for her album. 

Tina Turner Has 12 Grammy Awards

May 27, 2023 – Memorial message at the Aldwych Theatre in London with an assemblage of flowers. Image source: Doyle of London, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout her music career, Turner has earned 12 Grammy Awards for her music including for the following songs: 

  • Proud Mary 
  • What’s Love Got To Do With It? 
  • Better Be Good To Me
  • Back Where You Started
  • Tina Live In Europe 

She Was Nominated For Grammy Awards In Three Categories At Once

Turner is the only woman to have been nominated in three categories for Grammy Awards at one time, including in the categories of R&B, pop, and rock. 

Ike & Ike Turner Are In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Both Ike and Turner are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because of their talents and incredible success as musicians. They were inducted back in 1991, and it’s one of many accolades she received through the years. 

Her Autobiography Was a Best-Seller 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but when Turner wrote and released I, Tina, which was her autobiography in 1986, it quickly became a best-seller. This book went into detail about her life growing up, her abusive relationship and marriage to Ike, and much more. The book helped her show people what talent and hard work could do, even when you go through hardships. 

Her Biographical Movie Was Released in 1993

July 12, 2015 – Angela Bassett at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. Image source: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1993, her biographical film was released with Angela Bassett in the role of Turner and Lawrence Fishburn playing Ike. This movie won several awards because it was all taken from her autobiography. It gave people insight into the hardships she had to deal with both as a child and adult and was titled What’s Love Got To Do With It? 

Her 2008 Tour Was One Of The Biggest Tours Ever 

When Turner went on tour in 2008, it became one of the biggest tours ever and one of the highest-selling of all time. The tour, dubbed Tina! The 50th Anniversary Tour was her first tour in eight years and her ninth overall solo tour. She turned 70 right after the tour ended, and this would be the last time she toured. 

In 2013, She Got Married And Then Had a Stroke 

The Truth About Tina Turner's Husband Erwin Bach

She married Erwin Bach in 2013, and just three weeks after her new marriage started, she had a stroke which severely impacted her life. It was so damaging to her that she had to undergo physical therapy to learn how to walk all over again. 

Tina Turner Suffered More Health Issues In 2016 

Just when Turner was bouncing back from her 2013 stroke, she was hit with more bad news, and in 2016, she was told she had intestinal cancer. Instead of chemotherapy, she chose the homeopathic method to treat the cancer and her high blood pressure. However, these medications messed with her kidneys and would eventually lead to her being diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure. 

She Contemplated Assisted Suicide 

Assisted suicide is something more people are opting for when they receive a terminal diagnosis, and Turner was contemplating this option with her kidney failure and cancer diagnosis, going as far as to join Exit. For her, she was given the advice to begin dialysis because she was not a candidate for a kidney transplant. Her new husband Bach stepped in and offered to donate a kidney to her, and in 2017, she had a kidney transplant and received his kidney. 

Her Son Committed Suicide in 2018 

Turner’s son, Craig, killed himself in 2018 after struggling with mental health issues and died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Tina Turner Is In The Guinness Book Of World Records

Tina Turner - I Can't Stand The Rain (Live from Rio de Janeiro)

Did you know that Turner is in the Guinness Book of World Records because she’s sold more tickets to her concerts than any other solo musician in history? That’s a crazy feat and very few musicians will ever get to that level of fame. It happened during her Break Every Rule album tour in 1988, where she sold more than 180,000 tickets in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. 

She Appeared In Action Movies 

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) - Bust a Deal, Face the Wheel Scene (6/9) | Movieclips

Not only did Turner sing, but she was also an action movie star and generally speaking, her acting skills received positive reviews. She was most famously in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985. Like a lot of other stars, she also was featured in the 1993 film Last Action Hero and was in the musical from 1975 called Tommy

Sammy Davis Jr. Gifted Her a Jaguar 

April 23, 2008 – 1970 Jaguar XJ6 4.2 Srs.1 at the Salamanca Motor Museum. Image source: Hugh Llewelyn, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After a performance with Sammy Davis Jr. in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1970, Turner received a Jaguar XJ6 from the musician. It was a present from him and a much-needed one given that when she was with Ike, she didn’t have access to her money. 

She Spent Over 60 Years In The Music Business

Ike & Tina Turner Revue "Proud Mary" on The Ed Sullivan Show

When you think of her, it’s hard to fathom that Turner spent over 60 years in the music business, from Ike & Tina to her solo work, she has had one of the longest and most successful music careers of any artist ever. 

Tina Turner Died May 24, 2023

May 28, 2023 – Tina Turner’s Star on Hollywood Boulevard. Image source: Steveshelokhonov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Turner died while peacefully living in her home in Switzerland on May 24, 2023, after years of dealing with health issues. She was 83 when she died and still married to Bach at the time of her death.

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