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Tina Turner

  b. 1939 | American singer

At The Bottom
 1976

She had less than a dollar in her pocket; to make matters worse, she owed hundreds of thousands of dollars...

Ike and Tina Turner were among the most important rhythm and blues performers during the 1960s and 1970s, but their success (and marriage) had always been hindered by Ike Turner’s violent temper, drug use, and refusal to allow anyone to help manage or guide their careers.  Ike’s erratic and domineering temper drove away one musician after another.  After producing a long list of hits — including a famous cover of “Proud Mary” by Credence Clearwater Revival — the couple faded from view after 1973.    Ike’s abusive behavior toward his wife grew worse, and Tina finally left him in July 1976.  She had less than a dollar in her pocket; to make matters worse, she owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to tour promoters as well as the IRS.

At The Top
 1991

As a solo artist, Tina Turner has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Fifteen years after leaving her husband (and quite possibly her career) in the rearview mirror, Tina Turner was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame.  After her breakup with Ike, Turner released several solo albums that sold poorly.  She remained popular in Europe, however, and continued performing to large audiences there while trying to reconnect with the American market.  At last, in 1984, Tina Turner released Private Dancer, an album that would go on to sell well over ten million copies worldwide while spawning several top ten hits.  Her success grew even further in the coming years, as her music earned one award after another while her live performances broke attendance and sales records across the globe.  As a solo artist, Tina Turner has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling more concert tickets than any other individual performer.

The Comeback

Turner frequently credited her religious faith with giving her the strength to leave everything behind.

Tina Turner lived in fear of her husband, yet she also believed — mistakenly, it turns out — that she could not survive as a performer without him.  After she returned to the top, Turner frequently credited her religious faith with giving her the strength to leave everything behind.  In the two years before her marriage ended, Turner had become a Buddhist; when she left Ike, her religion was “the only tool I had.”  Though she didn’t have a place to live and spent her time hopping between friends’ houses, she felt liberated by her decision to leave her marriage.  She was determined, moreover, to make a career for herself and to stand on her own two feet.  Just before her career took off again in 1984, Turner cleared off a wall in her home where her old gold and silver records and other awards stood.  Turner looked at the empty wall and thought, “Alright, I am going to see what I am going to do.” Within two years, the wall was filled again.

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