by Rob Sheffield – Tina Turner didn’t just pull off the greatest comeback in music history — she invented the whole concept of the comeback as we know it. She became a solo superstar when she was 44. Things like that simply don’t happen. That’s how old Brandy, Usher, Adam Levine, Lance Bass, and John Legend are right now. At that age, Tina Turner was just beginning.
Turner, who died Wednesday at 83, carried the whole story of American music in her voice, because in so many ways, she was that story, but she was also a lot more. She was Anna Mae Bullock from Nutbush, Tennessee, daughter of sharecroppers, fighting her way in and out of the chitlin circuit. She was just a kid when she got famous, as half of Ike & Tina Turner. Her deep-country voice and his guitar always made a fearsome combo, in Fifties hits like “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” and “I Idolize You.” “The emotions I expressed were real because I lived those feelings,” she wrote in Rolling Stone in a 2019 essay. “Even ‘Private Dancer’ — which seems to be about prostitution, but is also about wishes, hopes, and dreams — tells the story of women like me, caught up in sad situations, who somehow find a way to go on.”