With the news that Tina Turner had died Wednesday at age 83 after a long illness, a common reaction was that the pop star was “simply the best.”
It is a reference to a line from her 1989 hit single, The Best, and a greatest hits compilation two years later. It is also a genuine assessment of her lofty status.
“She was a real powerhouse,” Canadian rocker Bryan Adams told The Globe and Mail. “She took me on tour with her in Europe in 1985, and it changed everything for me over there. I’ll never forget her.”
Ms. Turner and Mr. Adams had recorded the rock duet, It’s Only Love, for his Reckless album from 1984. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award. An accompanying video, filmed during Ms. Turner’s Private Dancer Tour with Mr. Adams as the opening act, earned heavy rotation on the American music video network, MTV.
“Every night I would finish my set, and then she would bring me on stage with her to sing It’s Only Love with her,” Mr. Adams recalled. “By the time she brought me on, she had already been on stage for an hour. She was in full swing, and it was unbelievable to walk on stage to her energy, her intensity.”
Ms. Turner was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and had a kidney transplant in 2017. She died in her home in Kusnacht, near Zurich, Switzerland. In a statement, her publicist, Bernard Doherty, said “the world loses a music legend and a role model.”
She was a role model for her indomitability, having survived an abusive relationship with her husband and musical partner, Ike Turner, and triumphing over circumstances that would overwhelm most people.
As for her musical reputation, Mr. Adams said that the only comparable performer to Ms. Turner he had ever witnessed in person was Mick Jagger: “I can’t think of anyone else.”
The Rolling Stones superstar, who first toured with Ike & Tina Turner in 1966, was one of the many people who reacted to the death on social media.
“She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young, and I will never forget her,” he wrote.
Mr. Jagger and Ms. Turner performed State of Shock and It’s only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It) in Philadelphia at the Live Aid benefit concerts in 1985. At the time, Ms. Turner’s career was in midst of full-blown revival. After leaving Mr. Turner and struggling as a solo R&B artist in the late 1970s, she re-emerged defiantly with the glossy rock-leaning pop album, Private Dancer, in 1984.
“In one fell swoop, Private Dancer captured the zeitgeist of the Me Decade with its cynicism and its solipsism,” rock critic Dave Marsh later wrote. “It made Tina Turner an international star on her own merits.”
Mr. Marsh wrote for Rolling Stone magazine, which featured the durable Ms. Turner on its covers in five different decades, beginning on Nov. 23, 1967. It was the magazine’s second issue; John Lennon had graced the inaugural cover two weeks earlier.
“Tina was a monumental figure,” Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner told The Globe. “Her story, her talent, her presence, her joy – it all counted.”
Mr. Wenner first encountered Ms. Turner performing with her husband at the Hungry I club in San Francisco in 1967: “I put her on the cover a week later,” he said. “She was so exciting, you know?”
In 1971, Ike & Tina Turner had a hit with a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary. John Fogerty, who wrote the song, wrote on social media that he “loved” the version.
“It was different and fantastic. I was also so happy because she chose my song and it was her breakthrough record,” he said.
The responses to Ms. Turner’s death had as much to do with her fortitude as her talent.
“This woman rose like a Phoenix from the ashes of abuse, a derailed career, and no money to a renaissance like I’ve never seen in entertainment,” wrote Sherrilyn Ifill, former president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “She became fully herself and showed us all how it’s done.”
Canadian singer-songwriter Emm Gryner echoed those sentiments: “She used her voice, her unshakable spirit, her intuition and her sense of humour to get through the horrors of life. She taught me you can be anything you want at any age.”
In 2021, Berlin-based BMG Rights Management acquired the rights Ms. Turner’s share in her recordings and music publishing.
In a statement, the company’s chief executive officer Hartwig Masuch spoke for many: “There will only ever be one Tina Turner.”
Tina Turner left a hardscrabble farming community and survived an abusive relationship to become one of the top recording artists of all time.