Local woman in the East Bay pays homage to the late Tina Turner.

Tina Turner

Music has lost a truly amazing and influential artist, and the world of rock ‘n’ roll is mourning the loss of its queen.

Tina Turner passed away on Wednesday at the age of 83 in her home in Switzerland. This news has deeply affected music fans around the globe, but there is one woman in the East Bay who feels an especially strong connection.

Tina Turner, originally named Anna Mae Bullock, was born to sharecroppers in Tennessee in 1939. She was discovered by Ike Turner, who later married her and changed her name. Unfortunately, their relationship was marked by brutal abuse.

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In the mid-1970s, Tina finally left Ike, but she had nothing to her name. Joel Selvin, a rock ‘n’ roll historian from the Bay Area, recalls a time when he saw Turner in San Francisco at the lowest point of her career.

Selvin remembers, “She performed at SF State during lunchtime, and they paid her only $750.”

However, this setback did not discourage her. Tina Turner went on to become a true superstar. Leah Sweet, who currently pays tribute to Turner and makes a living from it, remembers the first time she saw Turner at a concert in the mid-1960s at Candlestick Park.

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“I was incredibly inspired by witnessing the first female rockstar. Her energy resonated with me, and I thought to myself, ‘When I grow up, I want to be just like her,'” says Sweet.

However, imitating certain aspects of Turner was more challenging than others. Sweet explains, “The most difficult part for me was learning Tina Turner’s dance moves.”

If you want to gauge the immense love and longing people felt for Turner when she retired in 2000, just ask Sweet. She shares, “I receive so many hugs and take countless pictures with fans wherever I go. People are always asking us to come back.”

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Next week, Sweet will be performing her Turner tribute at Yoshi’s in Oakland. She is eager to see the reaction of her fans now that their beloved hero has passed away.