The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Long Live the Queen—Of Rock and Roll, Tina Turner

May 29, 2023

The “Queen of Rock and Roll”, Tina Turner, died at the age of 83 after a long illness on May 24th. People have mourned the world over, honoring her legacy—her legacy of powerful songs and performances with her powerful voice and quick-stepping, high-kicking moves; her legacy as one of the first celebrities to speak out openly about her years suffering domestic abuse at the hands of her husband of nearly twenty years; and most of all, her legacy of becoming a symbol of resilience.

Born Anna May Bullock, from a farming family in Nutbush, Tennessee, Turner began singing in her church choir. While still in high school, she literally grabbed the microphone and sang her way into Ike Turner’s band, the Kings of Rhythm. With him she had a dynamic run of hit records and lives shows in the 1960s and ‘70s. In these early years, their pop, rock, and R&B included “Proud Mary” and “River Deep, Mountain High”.

But this life came with a heavy price of abuse—that she finally walked away from, in 1976, with 36 cents and a Mobil gasoline card in her pocket. “When I left, I was living a life of death … when I walked out, I didn’t look back,” she said.

After her break with Turner, and several years of struggling, she triumphed in her mid 40s, pulling off what has been called the greatest comeback in music history, with the chart-stopping, “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, followed by “We Don’t Need Another Hero”.

Her career spanned half a century during which she remained an unstoppable singer and stage performer, with her raspy, powerful voice, as described in Rolling Stone magazine, “… coming on like a hurricane”.

As recently as 2018, Turner collaborated on the musical, Tina, which became a hit on Broadway and has toured throughout the country. She said, “This musical is not about my stardom. It is about the journey I took to get there. Each night I want the audiences to take away from the theatre that you can turn poison into medicine.”

With her death, the world loses a music legend, and a role model. But she lives on, through her powerful voice—her singing voice, and how she gave voice to women to stand up to domestic abuse and go forward with their lives.