Before Ariana or Demi, Lizzo or Beyonce, there was the indefatigable Tina Turner.
"As I'm about to turn 80, I'd like to think I've become wise in some ways," the Tennessee native told Rolling Stone. As a superstar who reached the zenith of her career when she was 44, she defies anyone who says there are no second acts in life. Surviving an abusive marriage to Ike Turner, the dead air of the 80s when American media overlooked black artists, and serious health complications (including a stroke and intestinal cancer), Turner is a modern icon of perseverance and triumphant talent.
Not many generation-defining artists make it to their 80th birthday, but even fewer artists can say David Bowie was one of their biggest fans. Turner credits one providential night in January 1983, when Bowie brought his upper tier management team to see Turner perform at the Ritz, as being her "Cinderella moment." She writes in her 2019 memoir, My Love Story, "That night at the Ritz was the equivalent of going to the ball (minus the part about Prince Charming) because it changed my life dramatically." In that memoir, she recounts the loss of her son to suicide, as well as her own suicide attempt in the midst of her abusive marriage. But upon the book's release, she told Oprah, "I lived through the hellish marriage that almost destroyed me, but I went on." She added, "Good came out of bad. Joy came out of pain. And I have never been so completely happy as I am today."
And today marks 80 years Tina Turner has been surviving and creating through every struggle in her life. As she says in her special birthday message to those of us who are not worthy, "How did I think I would be at 80? Not like this: I look great. I feel good...I'm happy to be an 80-year-old woman."