Just three weeks after Grammy-winning “American Idol” alumni Adam Lambert received rave reviews for mentoring contestants and performing a powerful cover of Tina Turner’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain” on the show, he is now one of many past and present “Idol” stars mourning Turner’s death. The music legend died at her home near Zurich, Switzerland, on May 24, 2023, according to Reuters. A representative for the eight-time Grammy winner told the outlet that she “died peacefully after a long illness” at age 83.
Turner was widely considered a true music idol. She was an electrifying performer who rose to fame in the 1960s alongside her husband, Ike Turner, with songs including “Proud Mary” and “River Deep, Mountain High,” and then built a successful solo career with hits like “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “Private Dancer.” Millions have been inspired by her story of triumph and perseverance, from leaving her abusive husband Ike Turner in 1976 to dealing with racist record executives in the 1980s, as revealed in the 2021 HBO Max documentary series, “Tina.”
Over the last two decades, Turner’s songs have been performed by countless contestants on “American Idol,” including Season 21’s Nutsa Buzaladze, who sang “Proud Mary” during the Showstopper Round, and her fellow Top 12 contestant Lucy Love, who performed “What’s Love Got to Do With It” for a live audience at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa.
News of Turner’s death sparked an outpouring of love and tributes on social media, including from judge Lionel Richie, who considered her a “dear friend” for over 40 years, and other “American Idol” stars who were deeply inspired by her life and music.
Lionel Richie Pays Tribute to Longtime Friend Tina Turner
In a 2021 essay for Vogue, Richie shared his thoughts on Turner as a peer and friend, writing that performing on stage with her still ranked as “the most incredible feeling of my entire life.”
Richie recalled collaborating with Turner as she healed from her divorce, which was finalized in 1978, and tried to launch a successful solo career.
“Tina was releasing her new album ‘Private Dancer’ and had recently gone through a horrendous divorce when she agreed to be the opening act on my 1984 world tour ‘Can’t Slow Down,'” he wrote. “I remember her walking into the rehearsal—she was very quiet, almost shy, with this amazing smile and personality. Then the music started and she turned into Tina Turner! To the point where I couldn’t perform—I would just sit and watch what she was doing.”
“Private Dancer” became Turner’s biggest-selling album, according to Reuters. In 2000, Turner returned the favor by taking Richie on her world tour after he’d taken a break from music, he shared with Vogue.
“We have shared moments in history that I will never forget,” he wrote. “My friend is a star and a living legend—a one-of-a-kind spirit that the world is blessed to have.”
Hours after Turner’s death was announced, Richie, 73, posted multiple photos of them together on Instagram and added a brief tribute to her.
He wrote, “What a life! What a show! What a talent! Your resilience was a lesson for us all. I will miss you, my dear friend! Thanks for the memories…🕊️🖤”
‘American Idol’ Stars Pay Tribute to Tina Turner
Turner’s death was announced on her Instagram account, where she was remembered for “her boundless passion for life.” As news of Turner’s death spread, many celebrities posted online tributes to the music legend, including many stars who’ve been contestants or judges on “American Idol.” For instance, Lambert, who was runner-up on the eighth season of “Idol,” shared her account’s post to his Instagram Stories and wrote, “Simply the best.”
Another tribute came from singer, actress, and talk show host Jennifer Hudson, who landed in seventh place on the show’s third season.
“This is a sad day for music,” Hudson wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of Turner. “The Queen of Rock’n’Roll has passed. Tina Turner, we honor you ! Your legacy will live forever. U showed us all what it means to have the grit and determination to never stop, no matter what life throws our way ! Thank u for all you’ve given us. Now rest in peace!”
Her “Idol” castmate and Season 3 winner Fantasia, who stars in Oprah Winfrey’s “The Color Purple” musical feature film later this year, posted a couple of Turner’s songs in her Instagram Stories, including video of a DJ playing a dance version of “Private Dancer.” Over that video, Fantasia wrote, “What I’m Vibing to Right!!!! Rest well Queen Tina Turner the Goat.”
One of the original “American Idol” judges, Randy Jackson, also shared the post in his Instagram Stories and wrote, “Rest in power to this musical LEGEND.”
Several “Idol” judges from the past also paid tribute to Turner. Country music star Keith Urban, who returned to the show to mentor the Top 3 and perform on the May 21 season finale, posted a black and white photo of Turner in his Instagram Stories and reflected on Turner’s artistry.
“I just heard about Tina Turner’s passing. and it hit my heart,” Urban wrote. “I’m immediately hearing THAT VOICE, I’m seeing THAT ENERGY, and I’m feeling that strength, sensuality, determination, and passion. That LIFE FORCE.”
He continued, “I’m grateful that we have the music and the performances — the source of SO much of what you see and hear in countless other artists to this day. A matchless imprint. Thank you for everything you gave, Tina.”
Music superstar Mariah Carey, who was a judge on “American Idol” with Jackson and Urban during Season 12, along with Nikki Minaj, posted a photo of Turner and shared how grateful she was for her.
She wrote, “The words legendary, iconic, diva, and superstar are often overused and yet Tina Turner embodies them all and so many more – an incredible performer, musician and trailblazer. To me, she will always be a survivor and an inspiration to women everywhere. Her music will continue to inspire generations to come. Rest in Peace, Queen ❤️”
According to Deadline, a private funeral ceremony for Turner will be held with family and close friends.