The music world lost one of the all-time great rock stars when Tina Turner passed Wednesday (May 24), at the age of 83.
The former Ike & Tina Turner singer possessed the style, the songs and sass, her mid-‘80s solo comeback is the stuff of legend, and her longevity helped to redraw the lines for showbiz.
It was on the stage, however, where Turner was TNT. When the “Nutbush City Limits” star strutted her stuff, it was always pure heat. Explosive.
Below, Billboard compiles some of Turner’s top televised performances.
Turner had to wait for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but she made a terrific case for elevation during the 1989 ceremony. That year, Turner inducted Phil Spector and performed with a starring cast that included Bruce Springsteen, Little Richard, John Oates and more. Her closing performance of “River Deep – Mountain High,” her 1966 Spector-produced classic, was a sizzling highlight. In 1991, Spector inducted Ike & Tina Turner on their behalf, and in 2021, Tina was inducted as a solo artist by Angela Bassett, who had portrayed the singer in 1993’s docudrama What’s Love Got To Do With It.
For those who closely followed Tina Turner journey, her solo comeback in 1984 represented so much more than a musical revival. Turner would later speak openly about how she had once attempted suicide by taking 50 sleeping pills to her escape abusive marriage with Ike Turner. Her 1970 reworking of “Proud Mary,” written by John Fogerty, frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival, helped her heal. Turner, the survivor, would perform the song on Italian TV in 1971. Sit back and soak it up.
Two full years before Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and the rest of the Dream Team swept to gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, Tina Turner was winning hearts in the Catalonian capitol. Turner performed an epic concert at the Barcelona Olympic Stadium in 1990, which was captured for a TV special and included this cut of “Better Be Good to Me,” from 1984’s Private Dancer.
With 1984’s Band Aid project, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wanted to “Feed The World.” With their trans-Atlantic Live Aid concert in 1985, Geldof and Ure changed the world. On Saturday, July 13, 1985, a full house at London’s Wembley Stadium caught some of the biggest acts on the planet, from Paul McCartney, to Elton John, U2, The Who, David Bowie and Queen. Then, Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium came online, with a lineup that included Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, Madonna, Duran Duran, and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. As he completed his set, Jagger welcomed Tina Turner on stage for performances of “State of Shock” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It),” one of the final musical moments in an historic day for live music.
“Nutbush City Limits” is a song that passes the test of time. Once a piece of art crosses that threshold, it’s literally unimpeachable (the contribution of the controversial Ike Turner will always add an asterisk to the duo’s works). “Nutbush” captures a sound and a time that can’t be repeated. It rocks but you can dance to it, and the synth solo is a moment of wizardy. None of it matters without the injection of fire that Tina Turner brings. Don’t believe it? The proof is there, captured for eternity on a 1973 episode of Der Musikladen (The Music Shop), a West German music TV program that ran from 1972 to 1984. Turner is pure dynamite.
Tina Turner’s name is etched into the hearts and minds of all Australians who grew up in the ‘80s or ‘90s, thanks to her years-long association with the national rugby league competition. Turner appeared in promotional videos as the sport expanded into the NRL, now one of the most popular professional sports in these parts. Her song “The Best” soundtracked some of those memorable campaigns, and is today recognized as the unofficial song of Australian rugby league. There’s no argument about Turner’s place in Australian sport: she’s the Queen of Rugby League. During the 1993 NRL grand final, Turner performed “The Best” for a full house at the Sydney Football Stadium. Watch the clip below and listen for the roars of approval from football fans.