‘Simply the best’: Tina Turner’s impact on the Mid-South

Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock and Roll
Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock and Roll(Hermann J. Knippertz | AP)
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 12:46 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A sad day in the world of music rock and soul icon Tina Turner dead at 83.Turner was a Grammy-winning musician, a barrier breaker, and a Mid-South native who will be remembered as one of the best-selling artists of all time.   

Turner was the first Black artist and the first female artist to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone... the oldest female artist to score a Number 1 hit at 44... and with a career that spanned over five decades in the music business, Tina Turner earned the title “queen of rock and roll.”

Tina Turner was born as Anna Mae Bullock in the small town of Nutbush, Tennessee. It’s about 60 miles north of Memphis. Her life is a story of triumph and overcoming adversity. Turner moved from Tennessee to St. Louis in 1950, that’s where she met and later married Ike Turner.” Ike was very good to me when I first started my career. I started to sing weekends with him, and we were close friends,” said Turner. After years of physical and emotional abuse Turner said enough was enough and left Ike. ”I had had a lot of violence, houses burnt, cars shot into -- the lowest that you can think of in terms of violence.”

She persevered through the tough times in her life. She went on to perform all over the world and make hits like “Rolling on a river” and " What’s love got to do with it.” Turner always kept the Mid-South in her heart.

In 2019, Turner was inducted into the Rock and Soul Museum right here in Memphis.

John Doyle, Executive Director of the Rock and Soul Museum said, “She carried such a passion for the songs that she sang about and that really came about from where she came from. ”Doyle says the Mid-south native’s legacy is something that will forever live on.

“She took it to a whole other level. She just didn’t become a female singer or a female singer of color. She broke all of those barriers, she became as big as those that she did duets with,” said Doyle. Doyle says even at age 83, Turner had and still has an influence on everyone despite their background.

“You saw white female singers that saw the same brazenness, the same professionalism of business, knowing how to run her business, know how to market her herself and knowing how to elevate herself to the next level. And we know so many,” said Doyle. The Stax Museum released a statement about Turner’s death:

“Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock and Roll, overcame many challenges in her lifetime to become possibly the most famous female singer of all time. That she is from the tiny town of Nutbush, Tennessee just north of Memphis, is no coincidence, given the amount of raw talent and soul that emerged from this area. She will always be remembered and celebrated at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, where her dress, shoes, and other memorabilia are on permanent display. Our thoughts are with her husband, family, and fans throughout the world.”

Her family says she died after a long illness at her home outside Zurich, Switzerland. She will be dearly missed.

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