Yesterday, the world lost a beacon of style, soul, and resilience. Tina Turner passed away at the age of 83, leaving a legacy of powerful music and the sort of presence that legends are made of—factors evidenced by her award-winning music, ever-evolving fashion, and that symbolic, iconic hair.
“Tina Turner’s hair is so iconic that it’s entirely and instantly identifiable, even out of context,” says Rachael Gibson, also known as The Hair Historian. “You see that shaggy, supersized, spiky-but-soft shape, and it couldn’t be anyone else.” That hair, though—particularly the aforementioned style that represented her personal and professional renaissance—was all down to wigs, a tool on which the ‘Queen of Rock’ n Roll’ relied on for versatility, though the original choice was born of necessity.
The beginning of Turner’s career was marked by soft, of-the-moment hair, ’60s styles that oozed glamour and a certain amount of demureness—think banged blowouts, pin curls, and bouffants. But after an unfortunate (or fated) salon trip left her natural lengths damaged, Turner turned to wigs, a decision which helped to shape the bulk of her career.
“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,” shared Turner in her memoir, Tina Turner: My Love Story. The performer constructed and styled many of her own wigs, the natural-looking results contributing significantly to her image—and her confidence. “As she stepped into her own in the ’80s and left behind the toxicity of her past, the hair provided the perfect visual shorthand that something had changed,” says Gibson, referencing Turner’s rockstar resurgence after split with her notoriously abusive husband Ike Turner. “Gone were the smooth styles, sweeping bangs, and flippy ends, replaced with a wholly unique, frizzed-out mega mullet. It’s hair that’s all about power—it’s hair as armor.”