The most dynamic female soul singer in the history of the music, Tina Turner oozed sexuality from every pore in a performing career that began the moment she stepped on-stage as lead singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the late '50s. Her gritty and growling performances beat down doors everywhere, looking back to the double-barreled attack of gospel fervor and sexual abandon that had originally formed soul in the early '50s. Divorced from Ike in the mid-'70s, she recorded only occasionally later in the decade but resurfaced in the mid-'80s with a series of hit singles and movie appearances; her high-profile status was assured well into the '90s.
Born Annie Mae Bullock near Brownsville, Tennessee, she began singing as a teen, and joined Ike Turner's touring show as an 18-year-old backup vocalist. Just two years later, Tina was the star of the show, the attention-grabbing focal point for an incredibly smooth-running soul revue headed by Ike and his Kings of Rhythm. The couple began hitting the charts in 1960 with "A Fool in Love," and notched charting singles throughout the '60s, though the disappointing position of "River Deep, Mountain High" -- cited by Phil Spector as one of his best productions -- was very hard to take. All expectations were fulfilled in 1971 with "Proud Mary," a number four hit that became the capstone of Ike & Tina's Revue. Frustrated by Ike's increasingly irrational behavior, though, Tina walked out just three years later.
She celebrated her newfound freedom in 1975 with a role in the film version of the Who's Tommy. Playing the Acid Queen, she delivered an outrageous, all-too-brief performance in an otherwise forgettable mistake of a movie. Several albums were recorded for United Artists during the late '70s, but she appeared to be washed up by the turn of the decade. Surprisingly, Tina returned in 1983, first teaming with a Heaven 17 project named B.E.F. on a remake of the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion." Tina's vocal offering was understandably apocalyptic, and she gained a solo deal with Capitol that same year. Her first single, a cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," hit the Top 30 early in 1984. Second single "What's Love Got to Do with It" became one of the year's biggest hits, spending three weeks at number one. Her album Private Dancer included two more Top Ten singles, the title track and "Better Be Good to Me."
With another movie role in 1985 (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome), she found a number two hit with its theme, "We Don't Need Another Hero." Her next big hit followed in 1986 ("Typical Male"), after which Tina began to decline, still charting occasionally and selling respectably with albums including 1989's Foreign Affair, 1996's Wildest Dreams, and 2000's Twenty Four Seven. In 2009, Turner oversaw and added spoken word segments to Beyond: Buddhist and Christian Prayers, which featured singing from Regula Curti and Dechen Shak-Dagsay. The CD was officially released a year later in 2010. Four years later, a collection of her romantic solo material called Love Songs appeared in time for Valentine's Day. ~ John Bush