Tina Turner

Though she is not a songwriter, Tina Turner has become one of rock's top female performers, with her gritty, full-bodied voice and a primal stage presence.

Turner was born Annie Mae Bullock on Nov. 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tenn. She was raised in Nutbush, Tenn., but after her parents deserted her and her sister, the siblings moved together to St. Louis.

In a nightclub there, Bullock met guitarist and bandleader Ike Turner, who was playing with his Kings of Rhythm. Turner had repeatedly ignored Bullock's requests to sing with him, but one night, she grabbed the mic and joined the band.

Bullock continued to sing with Turner, who renamed her Tina, and the two became involved romantically. Before their marriage, the pair recorded as Ike and Tina Turner in 1960, when a scheduled singer for the band failed to appear. The track they cut, "A Fool for Love," became a top-40 hit.

From that point, Ike built his show around Tina and called it the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. It included nine musicians and the Ikettes, a trio of slinky background singers. The Revue became a huge soul act in the UK and had U.S. hits with "It's Gonna Work Out Fine," "I Idolize You" and others. In 1966 legendary producer Phil Spector recorded the Revue's #3 UK smash "River Deep, Mountain High."

The Revue opened for the Rolling Stones' massive 1969 tour and had '70s hits with remakes of the Beatles' "Come Together" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary," which went to #4 thanks to Tina Turner's intro: "We never ever do nothin' nice and easy."

In 1973 the Revue had a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the Tina Turner–written "Nutbush City Limits." In her film debut, she played the Acid Queen in Ken Russell's 1975 movie of the Who's rock opera "Tommy."

Soon after, unable to tolerate domestic abuse from Ike Turner any longer, Tina Turner set out on her own. Professionally lean years followed, until she opened for the Stones in 1981. Two years later, she scored a solo hit with a remake of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."

But the singer's big artistic breakthrough came with the #1 "What's Love Got to Do With It" (RealAudio excerpt), from her multiplatinum 1984 LP, Private Dancer. It also yielded the hits "Better Be Good to Me," the Mark Knopfler–penned title cut and "Show Some Respect." Established as a solo star, Turner enjoyed hits with "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" (featured in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," a film in which she starred) and "One of the Living."

Turner's comeback was sealed with her sweep of the 1984 Grammy Awards. In 1985 she had a hit duet with Bryan Adams, "It's Only Love." Break Every Rule (1986) spawned the #2 "Typical Male," "Two People" and "What You Get Is What You See." Turner also became an increasingly popular concert attraction worldwide. Her stage antics were seen by millions at 1985's "Live Aid" concert, where she performed a suggestive duet with Mick Jagger.

In 1993, she enjoyed a hit with "I Don't Wanna Fight," which was featured in the Oscar-nominated feature film of her life, "What's Love Got to Do With It." Academy Award–nominated Angela Bassett played Turner.

Earlier this year, the singer was featured in VH1's popular "Divas" program, with Elton John, Cher and others. Last month, she received a lifetime-achievement honor from Britain's Black Music Awards. "Black music has finally been recognized," Turner said, according to Reuters.

The news service also reported rapper Wyclef Jean's saying about Turner: "This lady definitely has the best legs in the universe."

Turner's new LP, Twenty Four Seven, already released in Europe, will be issued in the States in February. It includes another duet with Adams, "Without You." The first single from the album is "When the Heartache Is Over." She is scheduled to start a U.S. tour, which she has hinted may be her last, in the spring.

Other birthdays on Friday: Garnet Mimms, 62; Alan Henderson (Them), 55; Jean Terrell (Supremes), 55; John McVie (Fleetwood Mac), 54; Bert Ruiter (Focus), 53; and Jamie Jones (All 4 One), 25.