Tina Turner became a star with Ike Turner in her 20s, escaped his abuse in her 30s, fought her way up the pop charts in her 40s, toured the world through her 60s, and now she would like to sleep in.
Turner is 79 years old. She has been retired for 10 years and she is still basking in all of the nothing she has to do.
She does not miss performing. Oh, no. Even in 2009, as she romped around the world on the final dates of the Tina! 50th Anniversary tour, she was fantasising, to be honest, about redecorating her house. She lived that life with Ike, and then she conquered that life with a life of her own, and now it was time to take in her unobstructed view of Lake Zurich.
“I was just tired of singing and making everybody happy,” she said. “That’s all I’d ever done in my life.”
Turner may not be singing much these days, but there’s a squad of Tinas performing around the world on her behalf. Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, based on her life and scored with her hits, has brought a Tina to London and a Tina to Hamburg, Germany. Soon it will bring a Tina to Broadway, when the $16.5 million production begins performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre next month, with Adrienne Warren in the wig.
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!), the show covers four decades of Turner’s life, beginning when she was little Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee, and hopscotching through the 1980s, when she grew into the fiercest pop star on the planet.
To this day, Turner has never revealed the full extent of his abuse. “I think I’m ashamed,” she said. “I feel I told enough.”
She first documented the violence in her 1986 book I, Tina, and it was then that her public persona began to evolve from popular singer to living legend.
But last year, when Tina the musical debuted in London, there she was, sitting in the best seat in the house. And as she watched her story unfold once more, she found herself laughing. At the curtain call, she walked onstage and assured the actor who played Ike: “I forgive you.” Some took that to mean that she had forgiven Ike Turner himself, which she had not.
Tina Turner has become a symbol of so many things – sex appeal, resilience, empowerment – that she cannot quite relate to. She was never trying to be sexy onstage; she was sweating through her clothes to sell her songs. And the idea of connecting her life to the feminist movement or recasting it through #MeToo feels alien to her. “I identify only with my life,” she said. While everyone was making her into a symbol, “I was busy doing it. Doing the work.”