Tina Turner, Magnetic Singer of Explosive Power, Is Dead at 83
A Second Career
In 1966, the record producer Phil Spector, after hearing the Ike and Tina Turner Revue at the Galaxy Club in Los Angeles, offered $20,000 to produce their next song, on condition that Mr. Turner stay away from the studio. The result, “River Deep, Mountain High,” is often regarded as the high-water mark of Mr. Spector’s patented “wall of sound.” It failed in the United States, barely reaching the Top 100, but it was a big hit in Britain, where it marked the beginning of a second career for Ms. Turner.
“I loved that song,” she wrote in her 1986 memoir. “Because for the first time in my life, it wasn’t just R&B — it had structure, it had a melody.” She added: “I was a singer, and I knew I could do other things; I just never got the opportunity. ‘River Deep’ showed people what I had in me.”
After she walked out on her marriage, encumbered with debt, Ms. Turner struggled to build a solo career, appearing in ill-conceived cabaret acts, before signing with Roger Davies, the manager of Olivia Newton-John, in 1979. Guided by Mr. Davies, she returned to the gritty, hard-rocking style that had made her a crossover star and would propel her through the coming decades as one of the most durable performers on the concert stage.
Her fellow artists took notice. In 1982, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, of the band and production company known as the British Electric Foundation, recruited her to record the Temptations’ 1970 hit “Ball of Confusion” for an album of soul and rock covers backed by synthesizers. Its success led to a second collaboration, a remake of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” A surprise hit in the United States and Britain, it was the turning point that led to “Private Dancer.”
Ms. Turner followed the runaway success of “Private Dancer” with two more hit albums: “Break Every Rule” (1986) and “Foreign Affair” (1989), which contained the hit single “The Best.”
She made an impact onscreen as well. Ten years after she solidified her persona as a rock ’n’ roller with a riveting performance as the Acid Queen in Ken Russell’s film version of “Tommy,” the Who’s rock opera, she drew praise for her performance as Aunty Entity, the iron-fisted ruler of postapocalyptic Bartertown, in “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” in 1985.
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