There were many Tina Turners. The soulful belter of hits like “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” in the 1960s. The raspy-voiced dynamo turning songs like “Proud Mary” into potent perpetual motion machines on TV screens in the 1970s. The chart-topping Queen of Rock and Roll unleashing timeless radio earworms like “Private Dancer” in the 1980s. She was the Acid Queen in Tommy and Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. And in her most complex metamorphosis, she was Oscar nominee Angela Bassett playing her (and borrowing her inimitable vocals to do so) in the hit biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It, indelibly inscribing Turner’s story of survival and triumph in the cultural imagination.
For a while, Tina Turner was everywhere – on playlists ranging from R&B to rock to Adult Contemporary, singing James Bond themes, receiving the Kennedy Center Honors. And she never stopped working – writing books, backing a Broadway musical about her life and music, appearing on screen as the subject of a documentary. Still, her previous ubiquity receded; you could be forgiven for not knowing she’d become a citizen of Switzerland and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bern. Turner died May 24 at the age of 83 in Zurich, a multiple Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Not bad for the former Anna Mae Bullock of Nutbush, Tennessee.