21 Jan Tina Turner: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

TThere was never a river low enough nor mountain high enough to keep Tina Turner from becoming who she is today: One of the world’s most popular entertainers and the largest seller of concert tickets of any other solo music performer in history.

Over almost six decades, she’s belted out timeless rock-and-roll favorites like “River Deep—Mountain High,” “Proud Mary,” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”; won 12 Grammys; and sold 200 million records.

And to get from her humble beginnings in the segregated South of tiny Nutbush, Tennessee, to the elegant Chateau Algonquin near Zurich, Switzerland, where she now lives, Turner has forded some pretty deep rivers and climbed some pretty tall mountains.

Along the way, she escaped a 14-year controlling and abusive marriage with Ike Turner (her earliest stardom was as Ike and Tina Turner), survived a desperate attempt at suicide, a near fatal stroke, kidney transplant, loss of a son, and finally, achieved her lifetime search for true love.

A celebration of this legendary singer’s amazing life and 60 years in music is now at hand with the publication of her new memoir, My Love Story, and the new musical based on her life, Tina: The Musical, which is set to open on Broadway in fall 2019. This new stage musical, presented in association with Tina Turner herself, reveals the untold story of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of her age, gender, and race.

“Bringing this musical to life on stage and working with this team has meant so much to me, I feel that it is in many ways a culmination of my career. London audiences have been and continue to be extraordinary,” Tina Turner said. “Now, the bright lights of Broadway are calling, and I’m very excited to share this beautiful show with New York audiences next year.”

Her new book, My Love Story, is a revealing, inspiring story about how a little girl with an amazing voice and love of singing faced a roller-coaster life with grit, determination, and the will to never give in.

“My biography is life,” Turner said. “The life of a woman who started as a little girl from Nutbush, who, as I’ve said many times, had strong winds against her, yet she stepped out into the big world with nothing but her voice, her optimism, and her will to survive.”

Young Tina Turner, circa 1959. Photo: Looping Studios, Atria Books, An Imprint of Simon & Schuster

Who Is Tina Turner?

Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock, is a singer and actress whose career has spanned more than 60 years. She’s won numerous awards, including 12 Grammys.

Turner began her music career with her then-husband, Ike Turner, as a member of The Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Success followed with a string of hits that included “River Deep—Mountain High” and “Proud Mary.”

She divorced Ike in 1978. And after virtually disappearing from the music scene for several years, she rebuilt her career through a string of hits that included her 1984 solo album Private Dancer. In 1986, she published a best-selling memoir I, Tina, which was later turned into the Academy Award-nominated film What’s Love Got to Do With It? As one of the world’s most popular entertainers, Turner has sold more concert tickets than any other solo music performer in history. She lives with her husband, Erwin Bach, in Zurich, Switzerland.

Tina and Erwin in L.A. 1986. Photo: Tina Turner personal collection

A Look Back

Turner begins her memoir with a joyous and stylish wedding: her 2013 marriage to her longtime love, Erwin Bach, after 26 years together as a devoted couple. Soon after, the strong winds began to blow again, and Turner talks for the first time about the health ordeals she’s faced over the last few years, which have included a stroke, debilitating vertigo, cancer, and kidney failure. When Erwin insisted on donating a kidney to Turner, it was the ultimate expression of their enduring love.

United Artists Records-publicity release by McFadden, Strauss, Irwin. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Searching for Love

Before Erwin, Turner spent the first half of her life looking for love. Her mother left her to be raised by her grandmother and denied her daughter affection and approval throughout her life.

With honesty and the benefit of hindsight, Turner revisits in her new book the dark years she spent as a prisoner of abuse and control at the hands of Ike Turner who saw Tia Turner as his creation and meal ticket.

Turner is forthright about her successes and mistakes as a mother and reflects on the recent tragic death of her eldest son. And she talks with great affection about friends who’ve stood by her through the bad years and the good.

Tina Turner albums through the years. Album covers: Amazon.com

Let There Be Music

Turner recalls the high and lows of a six-decade career, beginning with the moment when, still a teenager, she dared to seize an open mike during Ike Turner’s show, wowing the audience (and Ike), and setting her life as a performer in motion.

Turner recounts the thrill of opening for The Rolling Stones and the shock of learning that she was David Bowie’s favorite singer. Both Bowie and Mick Jagger would become her lifelong friends and creative partners. She reveals how a serendipitous alignment of events in the tough period after she bravely escaped Ike’s grasp, both personally and professionally, propelled her from a singer looking for any work to make ends meet to a Grammy Award-winning, internationally acclaimed recording artist who could fill stadiums with tens of thousands of avid fans almost anywhere in the world.

Most of all, My Love Story underscores the hard work, talent, and positive attitude that made Tina Turner a star. And through it all, Turner has ridden the ups and downs with her trademark qualities: strength, energy, good humor, and grace.

“I did dangerous things,” Turner admits, “and dangerous things were done to me, but in the eleventh hour, something always told me when to run, how to survive.”

Tina Turner’s autobiography, titled Tina Turner: My Love Story,  was written with collaborators Deborah Davis and Dominik Wichmann and published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. The book will also be available from Simon and Schuster audio. The book is a follow up to Turner’s 1986 international bestseller I, Tina.

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