Tina Turner’s famous mane was MORE than a hairstyle: Late singer saw her wigs as ‘an extension of herself’ (and she even crafted them all herself)
- The What’s Love Go to Do With It singer has passed away at the age of 83
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She was dubbed the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll thanks to her hit power ballads The Best and What’s Love Got to Do With It.
But other than her incredible musical legacy, the late Tina Turner – who passed away last night at the age of 83 – will no doubt be remembered for her bold and ever-changing hairstyles.
At the height of her success in the 1980s, the singer, who grew up in Tennessee, took to stages around the world with her a bold blonde mane of hair.
However, Tina’s signature wig was a far cry from the prim and proper styles she opted for at the beginning of her career.
Here FEMAIL takes a look back at Tina’s love affair with wigs – and how she came to see them as an ‘extension of herself’ following her abusive first marriage.
Tina Turner pictured performing in New York City in 1987 wearing her most iconic blonde and backcombed wig
Back in 1958, Anna Mae Bullock – who later reinvented herself as Tina Turner – was in her Senior Year at Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri.
In her high school year book, the 18-year-old aspiring musician wore her hair in a short, neat style as she posed for her portrait.
At the age of 10, Tina had been abandoned by her mother – who she later said ‘never loved her’ – followed by her father a few years later.
Speaking to Rolling Stone in 1986, Tina opened up about how she grew up wanting to look like her sister – who was curvier and had ‘softer’ hair than her.
Describing how the two of them used to go clubbing together, Tina said: ‘[Alline] always wore stilettos and black stockings with a seam. Her hair was soft, while my hair was very full and thick’
After leaving high school, Tina formed a band with her first husband Ike Turner.
In the early 1960s, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll started styling her hair like other Motown stars.
As well as having smoothing treatments. Tina would appear on stage and in promotional photos for the band with glamorous up-dos.
Tina Turner’s high school photo from 1958. The then 18-year-old – who had been abandoned by both her parents – wore her hair in a short, neat style
Tina Turner and her first husband Ike pose for a promotional photo in 1961. The singer had begun having her hair straightened like other Motown stars
Tina pictured with her husband Ike in 1963. Around this time, the star first started wearing wigs after a beautician ruined her hair with bleach
During her high school years, Tina said she would compare herself to her sister Alline who had much ‘softer’ hair than her
Tina and Ike pictured together in 1966. The star spoke fondly of this straight-haired wig which ‘held a style, no matter what I did’
Tina pictured in the 1960s when she was still in a band with her first husband Ike – the couple split in the 1970s
However, a disastrous visit to the hairdressers in the 1960s is what made Tina turn to wigs for the first time.
Writing in her 2018 biography, the star explained how a straightening treatment she had went catastrophically wrong and left her with brittle locks.
She wrote: ‘It took an accident, one that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, to prompt me to get my first wig.
‘I was at a hair salon with the [band’s backing singers] the Ikettes and the beautician let the bleach stay on my head a little too long.’
As she had a gig that evening, Tina had no choice but to cover the damage with a wig – and ended up loving the way it looked. From then on, Tina would wear her wigs both on stage and off.
However, the star said she never wanted to look like she was ‘wearing a curtain of fake hair’ – which is what led to her cutomising them herself to make them appear more natural.
Tina and Ike pictured together in 1964. Following their split, it emerged that Tina and Ike’s marriage was filled with manipulation tactics, ploys to gain control over her, and gruesome beatings
Tina and Ike pictured performing togehter in November 1973. Around this time, Tina started experimenting different colours
Tina pictured performing on the American TV music show Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in 1976, the year she split from Ike
In the following years, the star began experimenting with long straight hair like other female singers of the time had.
Looking back on that style, she said: ‘The wig was a life-saver – but more than that, I loved the way it looked, how the hair moved when I moved, how it was straight and pretty and held a style, no matter what I did.’
But while Tina was feeling more confident than ever, her marriage – which audiences believed was picture-perfect – was falling apart off-stage.
It was later brought to light that Tina and Ike’s marriage was filled with manipulation tactics, ploys to gain control over her, and gruesome beatings, which resulted in her suffering from numerous broken bones and even third-degree burns on one occasion – when he poured burning hot coffee on her face.
After ultimately leaving Ike in 1976, Tina was left broke and homeless – later revealing that she had less than a dollar to her name following the split.
Tina pictured performing at Madison Square Garden in New York in August 1985 wearing her most famous blonde wig
Left: Tina Turner pictured performing at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 1985. Right: the star performing in Spain in March 1987
Tina pictured performing in July 1987. Around this time, Tina revealed during a TV interview that she backcombed her wigs three times to achieve this volume
Tina later revealed she would half a dozen almost identical wigs at any one time as she ‘Iiked looking the same, as if it was her own hair’
However, their devastating divorce gave Tina the opportunity to reinvent herself – which is what led to her creating her iconic blonde mane of a wig.
In 1984, Tina catapulted to global fame with the release of her power ballad What’s Love Got to Do With It – which was later followed by The Best, I Don’t Wana Lose You and Steamy Windows.
For this new era of her professional career, Tina created her backcombed blonde hairstyle that she is now most famous for.
During a TV interview in 1985, the star about how she achieved such impressive volume – as the presenter’s son was desperate to recreate it.
She explained: ‘First of all, you need to wash them and let them dry by themselves.
‘Then you need to ruffle them with a comb and rub them with hair gel and ruffle again. I repeat this about three times.’
Tina pictured at the premiere of Goldeneye in November 1995 in London sporting a shorter blonde wig
Tina pictured at a press conference in Australia in 1997. The legendary singer embarked on a world tour in her 50s and then again in her 60s
Tina pictured on stage in Sydney in 1993. She said of her wigs around this time : ‘I’ve been making them all my life, so they’ve never looked like they’ve been taken off a hanger’
The star later wrote in her biography: ‘I’m not surprised when people think my wig is my own hair, because I’ve always considered it an extension of myself. In a way, it is my hair.’
In the 1990s, Tina opted for a slightly smaller set of wigs for her world tour – but kept the blonde tips fans had come to love.
In a Swiss television interview in 1996, the singer left fans stunned when she admitted that she makes her own wigs and ordered hair from Africa and Italy.
She joked: ‘That’s why I don’t have many of them, because it’s difficult.
‘I’ve been making them all my life, so they’ve never looked like they’ve been taken off a hanger.’
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine in 2018, Tina explained how she had half a dozen wigs featuring brown and blonde tones.
Tina pictured performing on stage in Zurich for her 50th anniversary tour in 2009. She still opted for blonde wigs with caramel tones
Tina pictured with her second husband music producer Erwin Bach in 2005. The couple were together for 38 years and married in 2013
The singer pictured at the New York premiere of the Tina Turner musical in November 2019. She passed away at the age of 83 last night
READ MORE: A heart can be broken… again and again: As Tina Turner dies at 83, FEMAIL lifts the lid on her many personal tragedies
Discussing her near-identical collection of styles, the star said: ‘I like looking the same, as if it’s my own hair. Not like Cher.’
Following her split from Ike in the 1970s, Tina spent the last 38 years of her life with music producer Erin Bach.
But before she found love again for the second time, Tina admitted in her biography that she always ‘nervous’ about how love interests would reaction to her wigs.
She added: ‘I loved the comfort [wigs] gave me and the ease with which they guaranteed a great look, but I always had some fears.
‘That I would get involved in a romantic relationship with a man who is attracted to Tina with her rebellious and styled hair, but will be disappointed when she wakes up next to unadorned Anna Mae.’
In 2019, the star wore a more subdued wig made up of caramel tones to attend the premiere of The Tina Turner Musical in 2019.
Although the style was a far cry from her back-combing heyday, the singer added a bit of volume by clipping up the front section.
The legendary singer died at her home in Küsnach near Zurich, Switzerland, following a long, unspecified illness.
Her representatives announced the news, saying: ‘With her the world loses a music legend and role model.
On April 9, in what are believed to be her final public remarks, she told The Guardian how she hoped the world would remember her – and how she did not fear death.
‘How would you like to be remembered?’ the Guardian asked.
‘As the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. As a woman who showed other women that it is OK to strive for success on their own terms.’
Asked what frightens her about getting older, she replied: ‘Nothing. This is life’s full adventure and I embrace and accept every day with what it brings.’
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