The Queen of My Self

This week’s theme is Dancing Queens. And Crones.

Queen of Rock and Roll

I recently saw Tina Turner’s 2008 concert, supposedly the last of her career. She was 68 years old and she took my breath away. She was backed by a bevy of beautiful young women, who, despite their gorgeous faces and figures and great dancing skill, seemed pale and insipid in contrast to the hypnotic power of the triumphant Tina.

The Queen of Rock and Roll, indeed. Her body was panther-muscled and solid. Her face bore witness to her journey, her hard time times and her victories. Her gaze was intense with the accumulated knowledge of her years. Her passion was palpable and electrifying. Here on my television screen was a female force of nature. A fabulous, ferocious, fiery goddess — Pele. Kali, Coatlicue.

Tina Turner, née Anna Mae Bullock was born to a mixed race (Native and African American) share-cropping family in Nutbush, Tennessee in the segregated South on November 26, 1939. Abandoned by their parents, Turner and her sister were raised by their grandmother. In 1956 when Anna was 16, they moved to St. Louis to reunite with their mother

The city opened up a whole new world of R&B clubs to the teenager.   One night during her first year in town, she was called onto the stage to sing with Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm, and the rest is herstory.

Ike recruited her at the last second to replace an A.W.O.L. backup singer for the recording session for “A Fool In Love.” She delivered a spine-tingling performance, which convinced Ike to take her into the band as his protégée with a new name to fit her persona.

Six years later in 1962, they were married in Tijuana, Mexico while Tina was pregnant with their son. She had already had a son from an earlier relationship with a musician.
The Ike and Tina Turner Revue had few commercial recording hits, but they tore up live venues with their high-powered live stage shows and toured with the likes of James Brown and Ray Charles. Tina’s electric charisma became more and more recognized as the star power behind the group’s international success.

Backstage, life wasn’t so great. Ike was a violent, drug-addicted wife-beater who was not above frequently knocking Tina around both publicly and privately. Despite hits such as “Proud Mary” and Tina’s self-penned “Nutbush City Limits”, further mainstream success eluded the group and Ike blamed Tina.

After years of misery and a failed suicide attempt, Tina finally had enough abuse and walked out. In July of 1976, she fled her marriage as well as the Revue with 36 cents and a Mobil gasoline credit card in her purse. Despite owing a huge debt to tour promoters for bailing out, she refused to fight for a monetary settlement from Ike. She would do it on her own, thank you very much.

It was long and sometimes humiliating trek back to the top for Tina, who was now nearing 40. But even though her gigs were far between and obscure. Queen Tina was having a blast being fully in charge of her own life and career. She credited her Buddhist practice with giving her the faith and drive to persevere.

it was in 1984 that she staged what is considered by some the most amazing comeback in rock music history and achieved international super-stardom. Her fifth solo album, Private Dancer was a huge success and established Turner as a credible solo artist. At the 1985 Grammy Awards, her astonishing revival was recognized with nominations in the rock, R&B and pop categories and rewarded with four trophies. Since that time, her success as a singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress has been on a roll. A Rock and Roll.

In 2000 at the age of 60, Queen Tina announced that she would no longer tour or perform live, but of course, she did. She remains one of the world’s most popular and biggest-selling music artists of all time with eight Grammy Awards and record sales in excess of 180 million.

Tina Turner is the undisputed Queen of Rock and Roll, able to thrill audiences like no other woman in music history. But she is much more than that. She is a Queen of Life and Living. A supreme shero of suffering and surviving, of striving and thriving.

Rock on, Queen Tina.
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to


Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus