Home Music

When Beyoncé Met Her Idol, Tina Turner: ‘She’s the Ultimate’

Beyoncé is Tina Turner’s most vibrant legacy. Two nights brought them closer.

Tina Turner Beyoncé

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It’s difficult to understate Tina Turner’s enduring influence on modern musicians. Since the announcement of her death on Wednesday, May 24 at 83 years old, artists across genres have testified to it. “She was my moms hero, she was the ultimate superhero to me too,” Kid Cudi wrote on Twitter. Mariah Carey, a contemporary diva, said that words like diva, iconic, and superstar are “often overused and yet Tina Turner embodies them all and so many more.” Ciara, as famous for her aughts R&B hits as her endless ability as a dancer, thanked Turner for “for the inspiration you gave us all.”

Today, Tina Turner’s legacy is most fervent in Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, who, last summer, Rolling Stone named the greatest living entertainer of the past decade. Since she emerged as a solo artist from the powerful incubator of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has been clear about Turner’s impact on her. “When I was a kid and I saw her tapes, I wanted to be like her,” she says in a clip resurfaced by one of the Beehive’s many fan pages. The video dates back to the 2008 Grammy Awards, when Beyoncé and Turner collided on stage for a performance of “Proud Mary.” It begins by showing Beyoncé, then 26-years-old, giddily skipping to Turner in their first meeting. She embraces Tina Turner like an aunt she’s known all of her life.

Beyoncé’s admiration was crystalized years before those Grammys, when the singer was tapped to perform a tribute to Turner to celebrate the Kennedy Center Honor she received in 2005, awarded by President George W. Bush. With Turner high up on a balcony, and Beyoncé below on stage, the stars beamed at each other. “I’ll never forget the first time I saw you perform,” Beyoncé said to her directly, a band’s crawling groove behind her. “I never in my life saw a woman so powerful, so fearless, so fabulous — and those legs!” In a solo performance, backed by that righteous band and sharp dancers clad in gold tassels, the spirit of that power, fearlessness, and fabulousness possessed her. Tina Turner, tickled, rose to her feet and shot her protégé two thumbs up.

Finally united in 2008, just a few days before the Grammys, Beyoncé had Turner herself to guide her through a performance of “Proud Mary” — and to sing and shimmy alongside her. At the rehearsal piano, Turner was larger than life, her voice still roaring and her energy still vibrant after many years, many milestones, and many heartbreaks. When they made it to the stage, there was a clear contrast between legend and legacy —Turner moved like a mountain while Beyoncé’s body flowed like water — but an undeniable parallel in their shaking hips and swaying arms. In Beyoncé’s pride and zeal, it was clear there is no Beyoncé without Tina Turner. “This is literally a dream to me because she’s the ultimate,” Beyoncé said then. “To actually be on the stage with her is crazy.”

On Wednesday night, Beyoncé penned a message addressed to Turner on her website. “My beloved queen. I love you endlessly,” Beyoncé began. “I’m so grateful for your inspiration, and all the ways you have paved the way. You are strength and resilience. You are the epitome of power and passion. We are all so fortunate to have witnessed your kindness and beautiful spirit that will forever remain. Thank you for all you have done.”

From Rolling Stone US