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Anna Mae Bullock was born as the younger of two girls in Nutbush, Tennessee, an unincorporated area in Haywood County, Tennessee, on November 26, 1939, the daughter of Zelma Bullock (née Currie), a factory worker, and Floyd Richard Bullock, a Baptist deacon, farm overseer and factory worker. She is of mostly African-American and European descent. Bullock long believed her mother had significant Native American ancestry, however results of a DNA test featured on African American Lives 2 left questions about that. Bullock attended Flag Grove School in Haywood County, Tennessee. The land for the school was sold below market value to the school trustees by Bullock's great, great-uncle in 1889. The younger of two sisters, Bullock and her sister, Alline, grew up with their grandmother after their parents split when Bullock was ten. Bullock's sister later moved to St. Louis. Bullock remained in Nutbush until her grandmother's death and agreed to move in with her mother and sister at 18.
Ike & Tina Turner Revue
In St. Louis, Bullock attended Sumner High School. Around this time, Bullock's sister was taking her to several nightclubs in the city. At Club Imperial one night, Bullock met Mississippi-born rhythm and blues musician Ike Turner and later asked him if she could sing for him. Ike was initially skeptical, but after much persistence on Bullock's part, he decided to let her perform for him. Thus, Bullock became an occasional vocalist in Ike's shows at the age of 18. Going by the name "Little Ann," Bullock was also the spotlight of a soul revue led by Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm band.
In 1960, when a singer scheduled to record the song, "A Fool in Love", didn't appear, Bullock stepped in and recorded the vocals instead. "A Fool in Love" was a huge R&B hit reaching #2, crossing over to the top 30 of the US pop chart. Ike changed Bullock's name to Tina Turner and that of his band to The Ike & Tina Turner Revue. In 1962, the two married in Tijuana, Mexico. (According to her Bio on Tina's Web site, the couple married in 1958. )
Turner raised four sons — Ike, Jr. and Michael (from Ike's previous relationship), Craig (born 1958, from her earlier relationship with Raymond Hill, a saxophone player in Ike's band), and Ronald (son of Ike and Tina; born 1961).
Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, Ike and Tina rose to stardom. As times and musical styles changed, Tina developed a unique stage persona as a singer-dancer-performer which thrilled audiences of the group's live concerts. Tina and the Revue's backup singers, the Ikettes, wove intricate and electrifying dance routines into their performances and influenced many other artists, including Mick Jagger (for whose 1966 UK tour they opened).
Ike and Tina Turner recorded a string of hits in the 1960s, including "A Fool in Love", "It's Gonna Work Out Fine", "I Idolize You", and the groundbreaking "River Deep, Mountain High" with producer Phil Spector in his Wall of Sound style. By the end of the decade, the couple incorporated modern rock styles into their act and began including their interpretations of "Come Together", "Honky Tonk Woman", and "I Want to Take You Higher" to their stage show.
In fact, their high-energy cover version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1968 "Proud Mary" remains Turner's signature hit and one of her longest enduring standards. "Proud Mary" was the duo's greatest commercial success, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1971. The single eventually won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
Decline in popularity
While many of its original recordings failed to chart, the Ike and Tina Turner Revue was lauded by the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Sly Stone, Janis Joplin, Cher, James Brown, Ray Charles, Elton John and Elvis Presley. A one night gig at a small, predominantly black supper club could be followed in the same week by a show at a major venue in Las Vegas or a national TV appearance. Ike acted as the group's manager and musical director, calling all the shots and ruling the act with an iron fist. While he was a fine musician and an early rock 'n' roll influence, Ike's control of the Revue's management, recording contracts and performances eventually led to their decline as his drug abuse worsened. This controlling (and often violent) atmosphere caused the musicians and backup singers to come and go frequently. Tina later reported being isolated and physically abused by Ike on a regular basis for most of their marriage.
By the mid-1970s, Tina's personal life and marriage began to fail. Ike's drug use led to increasingly erratic and physically abusive behavior. Their act was losing speed largely due to Ike's refusal to accept outside management of their recording or touring, as well as the cost of maintaining his allegedly voracious cocaine habit. Touring dates began to decline and record sales were low; their last success was "Nutbush City Limits", a song penned by Turner about her home town, that reached number twenty-two on the Hot 100 and number-four in the United Kingdom in 1973.
Having opened his own recording studio, Bolic (pronounced Bullock, after Tina's original surname) Sound, following the lucrative success of "Proud Mary", Ike produced Tina's first solo album, Tina Turns the Country On in 1974. It failed to make an impact on the charts, as did the follow-up, Acid Queen (1975), which was released to tie in with Tina's critically acclaimed big-screen debut in the role of the same name in The Who's rock opera, Tommy.
After a violent argument before an appearance in Dallas in July 1976, Tina abruptly left Ike, fleeing with nothing more than thirty-six cents and a gas-station credit card. She spent the next few months hiding from him while staying with various friends.
Tina would later credit her newfound Nichiren Buddhist faith and chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which she adopted while visiting a friend in 1974, with giving her the courage to strike out on her own. By walking out on Ike in the middle of a tour, she learned she was legally responsible to tour promoters for the canceled tour. Needing to earn a living, she became a solo performer, supplementing her income with TV appearances on shows such as The Hollywood Squares, Donny and Marie, The Sonny & Cher Show and The Brady Bunch Hour.
Her divorce was finalized in 1978 after sixteen years of marriage. She later accused Ike of years of severe spousal abuse and rampant drug addiction in her autobiography I, Tina. It was later adapted for the film What's Love Got to Do with It?. She parted ways with him, retaining only her stage name, and assuming responsibility for the debts incurred by the canceled tour as well as a significant IRS lien.
Life after the Revue
In 1978, Tina released her first album since her separation from Ike. That album, Rough, was a departure from the funky rhythm and blues sound of the Revue, and featured strong readings of rock songs, demonstrating the direction in which she wished her musical career to progress. The record did not sell well, and 1979's disco-infused Love Explosion also failed.
Tina began touring extensively around the world but her career stalled until teaming up in 1982 with B.E.F. for a remake of the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion". The producers were so impressed by the recording, they persuaded her to record a cover of Al Green's Let's Stay Together.
While she was largely considered to be unmarketable by the American recording industry, her popularity as a top stage act never faded in Europe and other parts of the world. Capitol signed her to a limited deal with their UK label. She divided her time between appearing at small venues in the US in order to keep herself in the public eye but continued to sell out major venues in Europe.
In December 1983, her cover of "Let's Stay Together" hit #6 in the U.K. and became a huge hit across all of Europe. Capitol Records still weren't interested in signing Turner until thousands of import copies flooded into the U.S. convincing Capitol to release it in America. In March 1984, Let's Stay Together hit the top thirty on the American pop charts. It hit the top five on both the R&B and dance charts. After the song's success, Capitol was quickly forced to review their previous assessment of Turner's chart ability and put forth the resources to let her record an album.
Return to prominence
In 1984, Turner staged what has been widely considered the most "amazing comeback in rock music history". In May, Capitol released the single "What's Love Got to Do with It" in the U.S. to promote the upcoming album. Only eleven radio stations had taken it to their playlists. Turner's manager, Roger Davies, forced Capitol to promote it more. Two weeks after its release, the song was on the play lists of over 100 radio stations. Eventually the single became a worldwide smash and in September, the song reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 becoming the first of Turner's songs to do so. It still remains her only number-one American hit.
At forty-four, she was the oldest female artist to have a number-one single. The song hit the top ten in several European countries. Private Dancer was released that June and has since gone on to sell more than 11 million copies worldwide, though some sources stated the album has sold over twenty million making it her most successful album to date. Other than "Let's Stay Together" and "What's Love Got to Do With It", the album also yielded the hits "Better Be Good To Me", which hit the top five in the U.S. and the title track, "Private Dancer." Turner would later win an MTV Video Music Award, two American Music Awards and four Grammy Awards, confirming her year as "the comeback queen". In February 1985, Turner embarked on her first solo world tour, the Private Dancer Tour, which met 170 dates in the U.S., Asia, Europe and Australia.
After the success of Private Dancer, Turner accepted the role of Aunty Entity, the ruler of Bartertown, in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Upon its release, the film grossed $36 million and Turner received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress. In July, Turner performed at Live Aid alongside Mick Jagger. In August, the first single "We Don't Need Another Hero" was released to promote the soundtrack for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The single became yet another international smash hit for Turner, reaching number two in America and number three in England. The song received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal and received a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Shortly after the soundtrack was released and reached the top forty in the U.S. and #47 in Canada, it sold over one million copies worldwide. In October the second single, "One of the Living", was released. It later won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. In November, a new single was released entitled "It's Only Love", a duet with Bryan Adams. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Subsequent solo success
Following her biggest years of her career, Turner continued her widely successful solo career releasing the album, Break Every Rule, in 1986. That same year, Turner published her autobiography, I, Tina, which she talked about her early life and volatile marriage to Ike Turner. Later that summer, the singer received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Turner's Break Every Rule yielded the hits, "Typical Male", "Two People", "Back Where You Started" and "What You Get Is What You See" and reportedly sold over nine million copies worldwide. In March of the following year, Turner embarked on her Break Every Rule Tour in Munich. On January 16, 1988, Turner made history when she entered the Guinness World Records performing in front of the largest paying audience (over 184,000) to see a solo artist. In April, Turner's double live album, Tina Live in Europe, was released. In late 1989, Turner released her seventh studio album, Foreign Affair, which included the international smash, "The Best". The single became one of Turner's signature singles. In 1990, she embarked on a hugely successful European tour to promote the album playing to nearly four million fans and touring over 121 shows in Europe, beating records set by The Rolling Stones' last tours.
In 1991, Ike and Tina Turner were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Phil Spector accepted the award on their behalf. That same year, Turner released a compilation album, Simply the Best. Her modern dance-pop cover of "Nutbush City Limits" hit the top thirty in the UK. In 1993, Turner's life story was turned into a box-office film, What's Love Got to Do with It?. Based on I, Tina, the film painted a dark picture of Turner's marriage to singer Ike Turner and her overcoming the marriage through Nichiren Buddhism and chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. While the film was given mixed reviews, its leading actors Angela Bassett, who played Tina, and Laurence Fishburne, who played Ike, ended up with Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively, for their roles. Turner supervised the film's soundtrack, re-recording several songs from her Ike Turner days including "A Fool in Love", "It's Gonna Work Out Fine", "Nutbush City Limits" and "Proud Mary". She recorded a cover of The Trammps' "Disco Inferno" and two newer songs, the Lulu cover, "I Don't Wanna Fight" and the R&B ballad, "Why Must We Wait Until Tonight" (written by Bryan Adams). The soundtrack went platinum in America and yielded Turner's final top ten U.S. single, "I Don't Wanna Fight", which peaked at number nine. Later that year, Turner went out on a sold-out U.S. tour, her first in seven years, to promote the soundtrack. Afterwards, Turner moved to Switzerland and took a year off from the road at the end of the tour.
In 1995, Turner returned to recording with the title track for the James Bond flick, Goldeneye, written by U2's Bono and The Edge. "Goldeneye" hit the top ten in several European countries. In 1996, Turner's Wildest Dreams album was released. Due to its later successful world tour and a commercial where she promoted Hanes hosiery, the album hit gold in the U.S. while it went platinum in Europe based on the success of singles such as "Whatever You Want", the cover of John Waite's "Missing You", "Something Beautiful Remains" and the Barry White duet, "In Your Wildest Dreams". In May 1996, Turner embarked on a year-long world tour which again broke concert tickets. The tour lasted into April 1997 and grossed a combined total of $130 million in sales. At the end of the year, Turner and one of her musicians co-wrote an English version of the Italian ballad "Cose della vita" with Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti. Their duet became a European hit. In April 1999, Turner opened at the VH-1 special, Divas Live '99, performing several of her 1980s hits and performing with both Elton John and Cher to "Proud Mary". Turner later remarked that she was recording a new album. In November 1999, Turner released the dance single "When the Heartache Is Over," its parent album, "Twenty Four Seven," was released in Europe the following month. In February 2000, the album was released in America and was certified Gold by the RIAA. Later that year, Turner went out on one of her most successful tours of her career. By tour's end, the Twenty Four Seven Tour had become the highest-grossing tour of 2000 according to Pollstar grossing over $100 million. Later, Guinness World Records announced that Turner had sold more concert tickets than any other solo concert performer in music history.
In 2001, Tennessee State Route 19 between Brownsville and Nutbush was named "Tina Turner Highway". In 2003, she teamed up with Phil Collins to record the song "Great Spirits" for the Disney film Brother Bear.
In 2004, Turner released a new compilation, All the Best, and released the single "Open Arms". The song became a modestly successful European hit and a modest R&B hit in America. In 2005, Turner briefly performed on shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and The View. All the Best became Turner's first album to go platinum in the U.S. in over eleven years.
At the end of the year, Turner was recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and was elected to join an elite group of entertainers. President Bush commented on Turner's "natural skill, the energy and sensuality", and referred to her legs as "the most famous in show business".. Several artists paid tribute to her that night including Oprah Winfrey, Melissa Etheridge (who performed "River Deep - Mountain High" , Queen Latifah (who performed "What's Love Got to Do with It?"), Beyoncé (who performed "Proud Mary"), and the Reverend Al Green (who performed "Let's Stay Together"). Winfrey stated, "We don't need another hero. We need more heroines like you, Tina. You make me proud to spell my name w-o-m-a-n," and "Tina Turner didn't just survive, she triumphed." In November, Turner released All the Best - Live Collection and it was certified platinum by the RIAA.
In early 2006, the All the Invisible Children soundtrack was released. Turner sang "Teach Me Again" from the All the Invisible Children soundtrack with Elisa charted at #1 in Italy. In May 2007, Turner returned to the stage to headline a benefit concert for the Cauldwell Children's Charity at London's Natural History Museum. This was her first full show in seven years. Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock released an album paying tribute to singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, entitled River: The Joni Letters on September 25, 2007, on which Turner contributed her vocals to a version of "Edith and The Kingpin". On October 16, 2007, Carlos Santana released an album entitled Ultimate Santana which featured Turner singing "The Game of Love", a song originally intended for her to sing, but which was instead released by Santana with Michelle Branch due to demands from the recording label.
On December 12, 2007, Turner issued a brief statement through a spokesperson regarding the death of her former husband Ike Turner: "Tina hasn’t had any contact with Ike in more than 30 years. No further comment will be made."
Return to the stage
Turner performed with Beyoncé at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2008. It was Turner's first major public performance since her record-breaking "Twenty-Four Seven Tour". In addition, she picked up a Grammy as a featured artist on River: The Joni Letters. On May 5, 2008, she performed in a concert at Caesar's Place in Las Vegas with long time friend Cher.
Turner embarked on her "Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour" on October 1, 2008, which began on in Kansas City, Missouri at the Sprint Center. The album, Tina!: Her Greatest Hits, was released in support of the tour.
Turner participated in the Beyond Singing project with fellow musicians Regula Curti and Dechen Shak Dagsay. This CD combined Buddhist chants and Christian choral music along with a spiritual message read by Turner.
Turner is the mother of two sons and adopted mother of Ike Turner's two children from other relationships. After leaving Ike Turner in 1976 and divorcing him in 1978, Turner did not get into a serious relationship again until she met a German record executive named Erwin Bach while at Heathrow Airport in London in 1985. After a year, they started dating and have been living together ever since. Turner has lived in Europe since the mid-1980s, after she moved to London in 1986 and then Cologne, Germany, later that decade; she moved to Switzerland in 1994. In 1996, she began building a villa outside Nice, France, which was completed in 2000. Turner now divides her time between Switzerland, England, and France.
Awards and accolades
Turner was listed on Rolling Stone's list "The Immortals — The Greatest Artists of All Time". Turner is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and two of her recordings, "River Deep - Mountain High" (1999) and "Proud Mary" (2003), are in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Turner has won eight Grammy Awards. Her legs were noted specifically as she was honored by President George W. Bush.