Legendary Singer, Performer, LGBTQ Ally and Gay Icon, Tina Turner, Dies at 83

One of music’s most celebrated female vocalists, global icons, and charismatic performers, Tina Turner, passed away on Wednesday, May 24th at the age of 83. The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll is said to have died peacefully at her home in Switzerland after a long battle with an undisclosed illness. 

According to Sky News, Turner’s spokesperson said: “Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee, became a prominent star and electric performer during the late 60s and 70s with such hits as “Proud Mary”, “River Deep, Mountain High”, “A Fool For Love” and “Nutbush City Limits.” But, it was the release of her debut solo album Private Dancer in 1984 that she became a bonafide superstar. 

At the age of 45, Turner went against the mold of what the young 20-something pop star was supposed to be. Scoring her biggest hit with Private Dancer’s lead single “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” She went on to score other hits through the 80s and 90s, including “Private Dancer”, “The Best”, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”, “Goldeneye” and “I Don’t Wanna Fight.” 

For her music, Turner is the recipient of 12 Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Billboard Awards and a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Known as one of the most talented and gifted live performers in music history, Turner has been named as inspiration to some of music’s best female performers, including Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe, Pink and Lady Gaga, just to name a few. 

As Gay Icon and ally, Turner spoke out regularly in support of the LGBTQ Community.  In 1982, she led the opening ceremony at the first ever Gay Games in San Francisco, and helped ring in a new chapter for LGBTQ athletes when other artists wouldn’t. In 2000, she put her support behind same-sex marriage, calling it a “wonderful thing” in an interview. She was also one of the first to speak in favor of gay marriage, 13 years before it was made legal in the UK, and 15 years before it was recognized in the US. Her support encouraged others to join in the fight. 

Her high energy stage performances have also influenced many drag artists, including “Queen of Drag” RuPaul, and many other drag performers who she’s helped to influence. RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Tina Burner, Vinegar Strokes, Peppermint, and others all shared tributes to the legend on Twitter and Instagram.

Tributes have also poured in from other music legends on Twitter. 

“She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer,” said Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.”

Sir Elton posted a picture of himself with Turner and said she was “untouchable” and a “total legend on record and on stage”.

Roger Davies, Turner’s manager for over 30 years also paid tribute, stating that she was “a unique and remarkable force of nature with her strength, incredible energy and immense talent, and he would miss her deeply.”

Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.