Tina Turner: “Simply The Best” Female Rocker We Knew

Tina Turner: “Simply The Best” Female Rocker We Knew

The limo was headed to the Hilton Statler Hotel in downtown Dallas. Seated at the back was one of the rock world’s greatest divas. At that moment though, she didn’t look much diva. Her face was bloodied, head swollen from the blows received from her partner — who not having slept for days, and high on his favorite white, powdery substance — had physically taken his frustrations out at her rising star over his.

At the Hilton Statler Hotel in downtown Dallas, after he had slept, she went into the bathroom to wash the blood from her face. Then she wrapped a cape around her bloodied clothes and covered her eyes with a pair of sunglasses. She also placed a wrap on her head, because the swelling was so bad, she couldn’t wear her wig.

When she left the room, it was for good — to end a violent 14-year marriage that was more of a prison sentence. She took an impassioned detour through the hotel to break her way out — traversing through backdoors, down alleys and across Interstate 30 access roads, ever fearful of her husband’s cronies and unnerving influence.

At the end of a frantic, near mile-long escape, she arrived at what was then known as the Ramada Inn and is now the Lorenzo Hotel — and begged for a room.  Despite her penniless state (she had 35 cents on her), she was given a suite. A hotel staff who was in no better financial position than her even fished into his pocket,  found a quarter and gave it to her. The manager on duty went as far as placing employees on foot patrol outside her door to guarantee her security.

It would take another two whole years for Tina Turner to finalize her divorce from Ike Turner. She gave him nearly everything: All their money. All the publishing royalties for her compositions. 

“You take everything I’ve made in the last sixteen years,” she told him.  “I’ll take my future.”

It was a future that no one, not even Tina could have imagined.

After her publicist announced on May 24, 2023 that “Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock’n Roll’ has died peacefully … at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland”, the world is learning more about a woman who virtually died a hundred deaths to get the life she deserved.

In that life, she affirmed and amplified Black women’s formative stake in rock’n’roll, defining the 80’s to such an extent that Mick Jagger admitted to taking inspiration from her high-kicking, energetic live performances for his stage persona.

Five years after her rebranding, Tina embarked on her Foreign Affair European Tour in 1990, drawing nearly four million spectators to break the record for a European tour previously set by the Rolling Stones.

In October 1991, Tina released her first greatest hits compilation Simply the Best, which sold seven million copies worldwide.[163] The album is her biggest seller in the UK, where it’s certified 8× Platinum with more than two million copies sold.

Naomi Rodgers as Tina Turner in the North American touring production of “Tina- The Tina Turner Musical.” Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

In 1993, her “I, Tina” book was adapted to the 1993 film What’s Love Got to Do With It? — a title that itself was taken from her greatest breakout hit in the 80s — and starred Angela Bassett as the protagonist. In 1995, Tina sang the theme tune to the James Bond film GoldenEye.

As of May 2023, she has reportedly sold around 100 to 150 million records worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. She received 12 Grammy Awards, which include eight competitive awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

She was also the first black artist and first woman to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone ranked her among the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Tina has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. She was twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Ike Turner in 1991 and as a solo artist in 2021. She was also a 2005 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and Women of the Year award.

In 2009, she retired after completing her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour, which is the 15th-highest-grossing tour of the 2000s. In 2018, she became the subject of a jukebox musical, Tina. 

But she would return for one swan song in 2008 —  performing at the Grammy awards with Beyoncé — and for a final tour to mark 50 years of her career.

Tina Turner performs with Beyoncé at the 50th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, February 2008. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images (Reproduced from The Guardian)

Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on 26 November 1939 and raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, where she recalled picking cotton with her family as a child. She sang in the tiny town’s church choir, and as a teenager talked – or rather, sang – her way into Ike’s band in St Louis: he had declined her request to join until he heard her seize the microphone during a Kings of Rhythm performance for a rendition of BB King’s You Know I Love You.

After her vocal talents became apparent, Ike gave her the name Tina Turner – and trademarked it in case she left him and he wanted to replace her in his act. He quickly became abusive: when Tina tried to leave the group early on after having got a sense of his mercurial character, he hit her with a wooden shoe stretcher. 

Tina Turner performs in March 1987 in Paris during the first concert of a world tour. Photograph: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

Tina credited Buddhism and particularly the practice of chanting with positively affecting her life in the 1980s. Outside music, she starred in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome opposite Mel Gibson in 1985. She published her first memoir, the global bestseller ‘I, Tina’, in 1986.


These days, standing in the eleventh floor Lorenzo Hotel room where Tina stayed the night after her exodus from Ike feels like stepping into a slice of rock ‘n’ roll lore. The room itself represents the pillar of a woman unwilling to relinquish herself any longer to an abusive partner’s unforgivable nature as much as it does the simple kindness of a hotel manager who opened his heart to a stranger in need.

It’s not the same room by any means now — the building, a Ramada in 1976, was taken over by Larry Hamilton in 2006, and completely gutted and restored from the concrete up. It was only after Hamilton bought the hotel that he learned of its importance to Turner’s legacy — a history he now aims to embrace.

“She’s iconic,” Hamilton says now, “and we’d like our hotel to be iconic. We embrace her all the way. Apparently, Ike had beaten [Tina] before, but that time at The Statler was the straw that broke the camel’s back. According to the story, she arrived here with about 35 cents in her pocket and the manager not only let her stay, but fit her up in a top-floor suite as well.”

Now known as “The Cake Suite,” the room is one of several themed suites to be found at the Lorenzo — including a Tina Turner-themed “Escape Suite” down the hall that’s filled with pictures and memorabilia from the singer’s career, including an autographed copy of the 1985 Private Dancer LP that helped further establish the performer as the household name she remains today.

*   Compiled from tributes by The Guardian, Wiki and centraltrack

** Banner picture: Denize Alain/Sygma/Getty Images (Reproduced from CNN)

Tina Turner performs at the O2 Arena, London, in 2009. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters


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