HER story, considered from beginning to end, is epic. It starts with a child picking cotton, in the fields alongside her sharecropping family, in Nutbush, Tennessee. It ends with her as a glowing 80-something, presiding regally at Chateau Algonquin in Kusnacht, now a naturalised Swiss citizen.

Along the way, she becomes someone else’s construction – Tina Turner, the stage name imposed upon her by her abusive husband Ike. And then she seizes that construction, to redefine herself and conquer pop music.

Beneath that is a deep river of neglect and violence from childhood to mid-adulthood. Beyond that is a startling story of how transforming and saving spiritual redefinition can be.

And through the middle, the music, fitfully containing all these elements. As a listener, I have my own particular entry point with Tina Turner – which obviously acknowledges the thunder of River Deep, Mountain High, or the skippy pop of What’s Love Got To Do With It.

I was an avid post-punk in the early 80s, tracking a swarm of electronic artists like Cabaret Voltaire, John Foxx and Heaven 17. The last of these became the British Electric Foundation (BEF), who made a much-anticipated LP, Music of Quality and Distinction Vol 1.

On there, alongside the ironic curation of Billy Mackenzie, Sandie Shaw and (oh yes) Gary Glitter, was Tina Turner blasting out The Temptations’ Ball of Confusion.

It’s a fantastic electro-funk backing track – but Turner was a revelation to me. Her voice seemed just as drenched in the soul tradition as that of the original Edwards, Kendricks, Williams and Franklin. Where did that, where did she, really come from?

It’s been good, in these days after Turner’s passing, to narrow down on the answer to that question. We rightly venerate figures like Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and James Brown, as black American pop pioneers.

But a consideration of Tina Turner’s formative years makes her no less seminal.

The presence of her mentor, partner – and abuser – Ike Turner is inescapably and complexly part of that. He has a direct claim to be the inventor of rock ‘n’ roll, for his writing and production of the chart-topping Rocket 88 in 1951.

As Time magazine wrote: “If the blues was about squeezing cathartic joy out of the bad times, [Turner’s] new music was about letting the good times roll. If the blues was about earthly troubles, the rock that Turner’s crew created seemed to shout that the sky was now the limit.”

Young Anna Mae Bullock (Tina Turner’s birth name) walked into the Manhattan Club in East St Louis in 1957, a nursing orderly who stole the mike to perform show-stoppingly with Ike’s band. But the wider context was Ike’s relentless musical enterprise, touring and recording and scouting for talent.

As confirmed by many sources, including the most recent 2021 Sky documentary, Ike Turner shaped a persona for Anna that combined Amazonian influences (drawn from comic books like Sheena, Queen of the Jungle), as well as the frank sexuality of blues, and a gospel secularized into soul music.

(The shaping fitted the character: Tina Turner often spoke of her “tomboy” tendencies, and being inspired by male blues singers like BB King or Ray Charles more than female vocalists).

Sometimes it’s really obvious when music is discharging energy that’s been built up elsewhere. Ike and Anna had both wrested themselves out of very neglectful childhoods, where brutal or distant parents had entirely abandoned them.

So the regimen of show business is a way to “use what you are left with”, as the later Tina was wont to say. Look at the electricity in Ike and Tina’s first big hit together, A Fool In Love (the YouTube clip you’ll find is from the TV show Hollywood A Go-Go in 1965).

She’s ecstatic, with her legs defiantly wide, declaiming her sexual demands in a beaded dress, surrounded by white preppies in sweaters. The cultural tension is obvious – but the personal tension is also.

AS the Sky documentary confirms from various eye-witness sources, Ike Turner – however demon-haunted himself (a victim of sexual abuse from early on) – was a reprehensible assailant and rapist of Tina.

It’s disgusting to hear her accounts of Ike’s casual face-slapping of her in their final drive together on July 1, 1976, on the way to a gig at the Dallas Hilton. A few hours later, Tina escaped with a few cents in her pocket and one charge card, filing for divorce at the end of that month.

Yet what’s inspiring is what caused Tina to break the bonds of “guilt and fear” with Ike, as she puts it. This came from her encounter with a form of Buddhism in the Nichiren tradition.

The core of Nichiren Buddhism is the daily chant of “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”. The Soka Gakkai (its religious order) publicly defines these words as “a vow, an expression of determination, to embrace and manifest our Buddha nature It is a pledge to oneself to never yield to difficulties and to win over one’s suffering”.

“The more you chant, the more you become liberated, mentally”, says Turner in the documentary. “I started really seeing that I had to make a change. I started to become much more confident. I mean, not even caring what Ike thought about me – becoming less afraid of him.”

The Sky documentary relates that she became a Buddhist not long after trying to commit suicide, on a Valium overdose: “Buddhism literally saved my life.”

(I can confirm that it’s a creed for strengthening minds and willpower. I have Nichiren Buddhists among family and friends, and they are enduringly resilient and resourceful folk. They’re also very kind indeed, to this forsaken old secular materialist).

With this spiritual ballast, it’s then fascinating to watch how Tina Turner (who secured her very stage name from Ike’s copyright claim over it, in her divorce settlement in 1977) took her career chances. The BEF folks produced her equally electro-poppy cover of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, which became a huge transatlantic hit.

And it’s hilarious to hear her disdain in the Sky documentary for the Largs-born Graham Lyle’s song What’s Love Got To Do With It (first covered, hilariously, by Bucks’ Fizz). “This is just pop, I’m a rock ‘n’ roller, what can I do with this?” Turner recalls. Yet the “screaming dirt” that label managers heard in her early voice is what produces the frisson in this huge song. It’s an effect that continues through the rest of her career, over the next few decades.

No matter how drenched in big synths, excessive reverb and clattering drum machines, there’s a somewhat tortured “Baptist-Buddhist” girl from Nutwood city limits that’s always present.

You hear it in the very grain and crackle of her voice.

Some other pennies have dropped, as I’ve contemplated her archive over the last few days. One is how Turner relied on the lack of ethnic segregation in the UK and European music charts, at least compared to the US (the documentary contains an unquotable example of such racism). Another is just how much Beyonce’s shimmying stage persona draws from the deep well that Tina Turner dug first.

But finally, the sheer popular devotion that Turner inspires clearly comes from her bravery, as she tells and retells the history of abuse and violence that she suffered at the hands of Ike Turner (which she first revealed in 1981, in an interview with People magazine).

This was ahead of the process that finally matured with the #MeToo movement of the late 2010s.

The cotton-picking girl, ending up as rock royalty in her Swiss chateau, is a well-scripted ending.

But her rubble-strewn road there has many lessons for life and art this weekend.

Rest in power, Tina Turner.