When she was 45, the age when many pop singers’ careers have faded, Tina Turner‘s 1984 album, Private Dancer, delivered her from commercial purgatory to become the singer’s biggest success.
Born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tenn., she began recording with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, later marrying the bandleader and adopting the stage name Tina. The group earned six top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including its Grammy-winning cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Proud Mary,” which reached No. 4 in 1971.
Behind the facade of the couple’s success, however, Ike was abusing Tina, and she walked out on him in 1976, famously carrying only a Mobil credit card and 36 cents. They divorced two years later.
Though freed from her marriage, Turner struggled professionally, playing cabaret-style shows to settle debts while three solo albums fizzled on the charts. Her fortune began to change when Olivia Newton-John invited Turner to appear on her 1979 TV special. The cameo led to Turner meeting Roger Davies, who became her manager and flew with the singer to England to work on Private Dancer, her debut on Capitol Records.
The album generated Turner’s first five solo top 40 hits on the Hot 100, including her first No. 1, “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” The single finished 1984 as the Hot 100’s runner-up title for the year and won Turner Grammy Awards for record of the year and best pop vocal performance, female, while another Dancer single, “Better Be Good To Me,” took the prize for best rock vocal performance, female.
The smashes pushed Private Dancer to a No. 3 peak on the Billboard 200 on Sept. 29, 1984, amid a 39-week run in the top 10.
Following Dancer, Turner earned a further dozen hits on the Hot 100 through 1996 and continued to record and tour through 2008. Now retired from performing, she lives in Switzerland with her second husband, German music producer Erwin Bach. Most recently, the icon developed an autobiographical stage musical, Tina!, which premiered in London’s West End in 2018 and will begin its Broadway run in October 2019.