Eighty years ago today, Anne Mae Bullock was born in Nutbush, Tennessee. The daughter of a poor farm worker, Bullock moved around the country a lot in her early years, eventually winding up in St. Louis where she met a charismatic bandleader named Ike Turner in 1957. He invited her to join his group, changed her name to Tina, and eventually married her.
The horrific physical and emotional abuse she endured during her two-decade relationship with Ike has been documented in several books and the 1993 biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It. But as Rob Sheffield points out in his essay commemorating her 80th birthday, she managed to launch an incredible solo career in the Eighties. Against all odds, she enjoyed enormous success even though she was a good two decades older than most everyone else in the pop world.
Tina Turner’s tours after the release of Private Dancer in 1984 packed stadiums all across the world, especially in Europe. She launched a farewell tour in 2000 that truly seemed like the end of her live career, but in 2008 she went back out at the age of 69 to celebrate her 50th anniversary in music. It was a show that would have exhausted someone half her age, but Turner got through 90 shows and amazed every single night.
The run wrapped up May 5th, 2009, at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England. Like every show on the tour, that concert featured a cross-section of songs from her entire career, including “Proud Mary,” “River Deep, Mountain High,” “Goldeneye,” and “Private Dancer.” She finished off the night with the relatively obscure “Be Tender With Me Baby” from her 1990 LP Foreign Affair. Here’s video of the big moment captured by a fan in the audience.
In the years following this tour, Turner survived a brutal bout of intestinal cancer and kidney failure. She survived the latter ailment because her husband, Erwin Bach, gave her one of his kidneys, and she’s currently thriving. Another tour, however, remains very hard to imagine. But with everything this woman has survived, it’s impossible to totally rule it out. If anyone on this planet can strap on high heels in their eighties and hit the road, it’s her.