TURNER, TINA (Anna Mae Bullock, Little Anne) (1939– ) Singer, Actress

Overcoming an impoverished childhood and an abusive marriage, Tina Turner emerged as a rock superstar in the 1980s. Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, she was the daughter of a farm overseer in Nutbush, Tennessee. She later remembered that in her poor community “white people own[ed] the land and black people work[ed] the crops.” She herself spent time picking cotton on the fields her father managed. Anna Mae and her older sister, Alline, were shuttled from relative to relative during her parents’ stormy marriage. After they divorced, her mother moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and sent for her daughters to join her in 1956. Both Bullock girls became intrigued by the city’s rhythm-and-blues scene. Alline started dating the drummer of the Kings of Rhythm, a local band headed by Ike Turner. Anna Mae, billed as Little Anne, soon began singing with the group. She had a son, Craig, with the band’s saxophone player before transferring her affections toward Turner. The relationship led to pregnancy, and Bullock had her second child, Ronald, in 1960. The same year, she and Ike, billed as Ike and Tina Turner, had their first hit single with “A Fool in Love.” Married in Mexico in 1962, the couple began performing as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. While Ike managed the band, Tina sang lead vocals backed by three singers known as the Ikettes and an eight-piece band. Specializing in energetic rhythm and blues, the group released 15 albums in the 1960s. The Turners also perfected their stage act, which featured sexually charged dancing by Tina and her backup singers. Their biggest hit of the period was “River Deep, Mountain High” (1966). Though virtually ignored in the United States, it went to number three on the British charts, bringing the Turners to the attention of many influential English bands. The Rolling Stones were so impressed that they invited them to open their 1969 U.S. tour. Legend has it that Tina taught Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger how to dance in concert.

By the early 1970s, the Ike and Tina Turner Revue had achieved mainstream success in the United States. The group’s first top 10 American hit, a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” (1971), became their signature tune. Memorably, Tina growled on the song’s introduction, “We never do anything nice and easy, we always do it nice—and rough.” The record was awarded a Grammy in the rhythm and blues category in 1972. The Turners’ other hits of the period included “I Want to Take You Higher” (1970) and “Nutbush City Limits” (1973), Tina’s own composition about her hometown. By the mid-1970s, the Turners career began to wane as their marriage fell apart. Fueled by a growing cocaine habit, Ike Turner mentally and physically abused Tina, who turned to Buddhism for relief. After recording several solo albums and appearing as the Acid Queen in the film musical Tommy (1976), she decided to shed herself of Ike once and for all. She left him in the middle of a 1976 tour, with only a gasoline credit card and 36 cents in her pocket. In 1978, they were divorced.

The same year, Tina Turner released the album Rough (1978), but it was virtually ignored by the critics and the public. Still popular in Europe, she spent the next few years touring there. She was given the break she needed to get her career on track in 1982, when the Rolling Stones asked her open their sold-out U.S. tour. She had a dance hit with a cover of Al Green’s “Let Stay Together” (1983) before recording her comeback album, Private Dancer (1984). Aided by music videos that showcased her dynamic stage presence and shapely legs, the album was a worldwide sensation. The two biggest hits from Private Dancer—“What’s Love Got to Do with It” and “Better Be Good to Me” earned Turner three awards at the 1984 Grammys. Turner followed Private Dancer with a second successful solo album, Break Every Rule (1986). She also appeared as Aunt Entity in the futuristic thriller Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985).

Two songs from the soundtrack—“We Don’t Need Another Hero” and “One of the Living”—scored as hits for Turner. The next year, she aired her life story in the best-selling autobiography I, Tina. It was made into the award-winning movie What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993) starring Angela Bassett as Tina and Laurence Fishburne as Ike. Turner was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. She spent much of the rest of the decade touring in the United States and in Europe, where she had moved in 1986 to be with her boyfriend, Erwin Bach, a German record executive. With lavish houses in France and Switzerland, Turner has embraced Europe as fondly as Europe has embraced her. As Turner has explained, “I am as big as MADONNA in Europe. I am as big, in some places, as the Rolling Stones.” In 2000, Turner released the album Twenty Four Seven to coincide with her farewell tour. At 61 years old, she performed her last concert in Anaheim, California, in December of that year. Proud to be retiring from live concerts while still at the top of her game, she told People magazine, “What a way to go. I can step down and say, ‘I did it, I enjoyed it, and I went out the right way.’”

Studio albums

Year  Album details
1974 Tina Turns the Country On
1975 Acid Queen
1978 Rough
1979 Love Explosion
1984 Private Dancer
1986 Break Every Rule
1989 Foreign Affair
1996 Wildest Dreams
1999 Twenty Four Seven

Live albums

Year Album details
1988 Tina Live in Europe
1999 VH1 Divas 1999
2009 Tina Live


Year Album details
1985 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
1993 What's Love Got to Do with it


Year Album details
1991 Simply the Best
2004 All the Best
2008 Tina!: Her Greatest Hits


Year Song
1975 "Baby Get It On" (Ike & Tina Turner)
1976 "Whole Lotta Love"
         "Acid Queen"
1978 "Viva La Money"
         "Root, Toot Undisputable Rock N Roller"
         "Sometimes When We Touch"
         "Night Time Is the Right Time"
1979 "Love Explosion"
         "Back Stabbers"
         "Music Keeps Me Dancin'"
1983 "Let's Stay Together"
1984 "Help!"
         "What's Love Got to Do With it"
         "Better Be Good to Me"
1985 "Private Dancer"
         "I Can't Stand the Rain"
         "Show Some Respect"
         "We Don't Need Another Hero"
         "One of the Living"
1986 "Typical Male"
         "Back Where You Started"
         "Two People"
1987 "What You Get Is What You See"
         "Break Every Rule"
         "Paradise Is Here"
1988 "Addicted to Love (Live)"
         "Tonight (Live)" (w/ David Bowie)
         "634-7589 (Live)" (w/ Robert Cray)
         "Nutbush City Limits (Live)"
         "A Change Is Gonna Come (Live)"
1989 "The Best"
         "I Don't Wanna Lose You"
         1990 "Steamy Windows"
         "Look Me in the Heart"
         "You Can't Stop Me Loving You"
         "Foreign Affair"
         "Be Tender with Me Baby"
1991 "Nutbush City Limits (The 90s Version)"
         "Way of the World"
         "Love Thing"
         "I Want You Near Me"
         1992 "(Simply) The Best" (w/ Jimmy Barnes)
1993 "I Don't Wanna Fight"
         "Disco Inferno"
         "Why Must We Wait Until Tonight"
1995 "GoldenEye"
1996 "Whatever You Want"
         "On Silent Wings" (featuring Sting)
         "Missing You"
         "Something Beautiful Remains"
         "Unfinished Sympathy"
         "In Your Wildest Dreams" (w/ Barry White)
1999 "When the Heartache Is Over"
2000 "Whatever You Need"
         "Don't Leave Me This Way"
         "Twenty Four Seven"
         "I Will Be There"
         "Talk to My Heart"
2004 "Open Arms"
2005 "Complicated Disaster"

Video albums

Year Video details
1978 Wild Lady of Rock
1982 Nice 'n' Rough
1984 Private Dancer - The Videos
1985 Private Dancer Tour
1986 What You is What You Get
         Break Every Rule: The Videos
1988 Live in Rio '88
1989 Foreign Affair - The Videos
1991 Do you want some action?
         Foreign Affair live Barcelona 1990
         Simply the Best: The video collection
1992 The Girl from Nutbush
1993 What's Love...? Live
1996 Live in Amsterdam - Wildest Dreams Tour
1997 Behind the Dreams
1999 Celebrate! - 60th Birthday Special
2000 One Last Time Live in Concert!
2005 All the Best - The Live Collection
2009 Tina Live: 50th Anniversary Tour

Music videos

Year Song
1983 "Let's Stay Together"
1984 "Help!"
         "What's Love Got to Do with It"
         "What's Love Got to Do with it" [black and white version]
         "It's Only Love" [live] (w/ Bryan Adams)
         "Better Be Good to Me"
         "Private Dancer"
1985 "I Can't Stand the Rain" [live]
         "Show Some Respect" [live]
         "We Don't Need Another Hero" [concept version]
         "One of the Living"
1986 "Typical Male"
         "Two People"
1987 "What You Get is What You See"
         "Break Every Rule"
         "Paradise is Here"
1988 "A Change is Gonna Come" [live]
         "We Don't Need Another Hero" [live version]
         "Tonight" [live] (w/ David Bowie)
         "Addicted to Love" [live]
1989 "The Best"
         "Steamy Windows"
         "I Don't Wanna Lose You"
1990 "Foreign Affair"
         "Look Me in the Heart"
         "Be Tender with Me Baby" [live]
         "It Takes Two" (w/ Rod Stewart)
1991 "Nutbush City Limits"
         "Way of the World" [USA version]
         "Way of the World" [UK version]
1992 "Love Thing"
         "I Want You Near Me"
1993 "I Don't Wanna Fight"
         "Why Must We Wait Until Tonight"
         "Disco Inferno"
         "Proud Mary"
1995 "GoldenEye"
1996 "Whatever You Want"
         "On Silent Wings"
         "Missing You"
         "Something Beautiful Remains"
         "In Your Wildest Dreams"
         "In Your Wildest Dreams" [live]
1997 "Can't Stop Thinking of You" (w/ Eros Ramazzotti)
1999 "When the Heartache is Over"
2000 "Whatever You Need"
2006 "Teach Me Again" (w/ Elisa)

Further Reading
Espinoza, Galina, and Fannie Weinstein. “Stage Flight.” People. December 4, 2000, pp. 230+.
Ivory, Steve. Tina! New York: Putnam, 1985.
Turner, Tina, with Kurt Loder. I, Tina: My Life Story. New York: William Morrow, 1986.

Recommended Recorded and Videotaped Performances
The Best of Tina Turner: Celebrate! (2000). Image Entertainment, DVD/VHS, 2000.
The Collected Recordings. Capitol, CD set, 1994.
Tommy (1975). Columbia Tristar, DVD, 1999.