For Titanic Tina Turner, The Beat Goes Off
Last Wednesday’s death of Rock and Roll legend, Tina Turner has continued to elicit fond memories of the life and times of the music star from global leaders, celebrities, and fans alike.
Alongside the flurry of tributes, have also come tonnes of praises, which are being showered on her for, like a phoenix, rising from the ashes of domestic abuse and personal tragedy to conquer her world.
In announcing the passage of one of rock’s great vocalists and most charismatic performers at 83, the spokesperson said: “Tina Turner the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland.
“With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”
The United States-born star was one of rock’s iconic singers, known for her electric stage presence and hits including The Best, Proud Mary, Private Dancer and What’s Love Got to Do With It.
She embarked on her singing career in the 1950s and found fame with the Ike Turner Revue, before re-emerging as a solo star in the 1980s. Turner lived a difficult life marred with pain, which included abuse and the loss of her two sons, Craig and Ronnie.
“I’m still trying to find out why he did it,” she said in 2018 while telling Oprah Winfrey about Craig’s suicide.
The rock icon was only 18 when she had Craig in 1958 with her partner, Raymond Hill, who was a saxophonist with Ike Turner’s band Kings of Rhythm. Craig was later adopted by Ike after he and Turner married in 1962. He was the eldest of Turner’s four children, the others being Ronnie, Turner Jr, and Michael Turner.
After Craig was found dead in 2018, aged 59 at his Studio City home in California, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed that it was a suicide case.
“I think Craig was lonely, that’s what I think got him more than anything else,” Turner told CBS News, adding: “I have pictures all around of him smiling, and I think I’m sensing that he’s in a good place. I do.”
Turner described Craig who was working with a prominent company in real estate and was in a relationship as an “introverted person” and “very shy.” She stressed that his death was her “saddest moment as a mother.”She tweeted at the time: “On Thursday 19 July 2018, I said my final goodbye to my son, Craig Raymond Turner, when I gathered with family and friends to scatter his ashes off the coast of California.
“He was 59 when he died so tragically, but he will always be my baby…I still don’t know what took him to the edge because, at that stage, he had said to me that he had never met a woman that he felt that way about,” she had told the BBC.
“He was bringing her to meet me (for) his birthday in August. He had decorated his apartment, which I bought him years ago. He had got a new job with a prominent real estate company in California, (which) he was very happy with.
“I have no idea what pulled him down, except something that followed him was loneliness. I think it was something with being alone …The last few times we talked, the conversations were different, and I didn’t know that until after the suicide.”
In her memoir “My Love Story”, Turner revealed that she had struggled with suicidal thoughts during her abusive relationship with Ike Turner, but said despite the darkness at the time, she survived.
“I was unhappy when I woke up,” she wrote in her memoir. “But I came out of the darkness believing I was meant to survive.” In 2005, speaking to Oprah before Craig’s death, Turner described him as “a very emotional kid” who struggled with seeing the abuse she faced.
“He’d always look down in sadness,” Turner said.
“One day when Ike was fighting me, Craig knocked on the door and said, ‘Mother, are you all right?’ I thought, ‘Oh, please, don’t beat me at home.’ I didn’t want my children to hear.”
The death of Ronnie Turner (Tina Turner’s youngest son) who was born in October 1960, was another tragedy that hit the singer deeply.
He was also a bass player in the band Manufactured Funk, and he married French Musician, Afida Turner in 2007.
Before his death, no specific diagnosis was revealed, but coroners later said he passed at the age of 62 after complications from colon cancer.
After his death in 2022, Turner paid tribute to her “beloved son,” and at the time, she posted a black and white image on Instagram.
“Ronnie, you left the world far too early. In sorrow, I close my eyes and think of you, my beloved son,” the singer said in the caption.
Turner’s domestic abuse in the hands of her former husband and musical partner, Ike Turner was well documented.
In 1993, when asked in an interview with Vanity Fair what she had stood up for, Tina Turner’s response was simple: “I stood up for my life.”
A rock and feminist icon, when the star first spoke out about the violence she had suffered, her openness about the subject was groundbreaking.
Turner was one of the first high-profile figures to do so, giving a voice to thousands of others experiencing similar situations and paving the way for a cultural shift in the way domestic abuse is discussed and how survivors are treated. At the same time, she refused to let it define her.
After first revealing the abuse to People magazine in 1981, in her memoirs and when asked subsequently in interviews, she spoke of the “torture” of her 16-year marriage; about the broken bones and the humiliation, the beatings before she would have to dazzle audiences alongside him on stage.
“I was living a life of death,” she said in the 2021 documentary about her life. “I didn’t exist. But I survived it. And when I walked out, I walked. And I didn’t look back.”
Turner was already a star. But after her marriage, she would later become an icon: the Queen of Rock’n’Roll.
“When a survivor who is in an abusive relationship hears a woman like Tina Turner talk about her experiences, talk about her survival journey, and then can see the success and recovery that she’s achieved – it really does give survivors and those experiencing domestic abuse the courage and the hope to reach out and seek help,” Women’s Aid chief executive Farah Nazeer told Sky News.
“(Turner shows) it is possible to move away from these harmful relationships, which can feel all-encompassing, which can feel like imprisonment. It’s incredibly powerful to have a woman like Tina Turner, an iconic woman, a celebrity, speak out in this way.”
Beyoncé one of the celebrities and fans that have paid tribute to Turner said that she was the “epitome of passion and power”, while Sir Mick Jagger called her a “wonderful friend” and “enormously talented” performer.
Turner was also praised by Mariah Carey and Oprah Winfrey as a “survivor” who overcame years of domestic abuse.
The Obamas praised her for “singing her truth through joy and pain.”
They were joined by current US President, Joe Biden, who noted that Turner had started life as a farmer’s daughter and hailed her “once-in-a-generation talent.”
United States singer Gloria Gaynor said Turner “paved the way for so many women in rock music, black and white… She did with great dignity and success what very few would even have dared to do in her time and in that genre of music. “
Another contemporary, Diana Ross, said she was “shocked” and “saddened” by Turner’s death; while Dionne Warwick remembered her as an “eternal ball of energy”.
Mick Jagger, who often collaborated with Turner, wrote on Twitter: “I’m so saddened by the passing of my wonderful friend Tina Turner.
“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.”
Sir Elton John called Turner a “total legend on record and stage”.
He said: “We have lost one of the world’s most exciting and electric performers… She was untouchable.”