'It took an accident': How Tina Turner got her first wig after visit to salon went terribly wrong

'It took an accident': How Tina Turner got her first wig after visit to salon went terribly wrong
Tina Turner was at the Giorgio Armani fashion show that is part of Milan's ready-to-wear collections Autumn/Winter 2007 demonstration (Giuseppe Cacace/Getty Images)

A bad salon experience Tina Turner had in the 1960s transformed her life and ignited her passion for wigs. In addition to being hailed as the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll due to the success of her power ballads 'What's Love Got to Do With It' and 'The Best', the diva, who died on May 24 at the age of 83 after a protracted illness, was also known for her wild and eccentric haircuts. But it wasn't always the way when things started.

The Tennessee-born vocalist, alias Anna Mae Bullock, had the classic Motown updo hairstyle worn by many musicians at the time, including Diana Ross, Tammi Terell, and Kim Weston. Her hair trials, on the other hand, led her to fall in love with wigs for the rest of her life. Turner, who reached the height of her fame in the 1980s, performed on stage while sporting a striking blonde mane. The prim and tidy hairstyles Tina wore at the start of her career, however, paled in comparison to her distinctive wig.


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Why did Tina Turner fall in love with wigs?

Anna Mae Bullock, who eventually redefined herself as Tina Turner, was a senior at Sumner High School in St Louis, Missouri in 1958. The 18-year-old budding musician had her hair short and immaculate as she appeared for a picture in her high school yearbook. Turner experienced abandonment at the age of ten by her mother, who she subsequently claimed 'never loved her', and just a few years later by her father. She told Rolling Stone in 1986 that she grew up trying to make herself appear like her sister, who was more curved and had "softer" hair than her. "[Alline] always wore stilettos and black stockings with a seam," she recalled when talking about how the pair used to go clubbing together. "Her hair was soft, while my hair was very full and thick," as cited by Daily Mail.


'First wig'

American singer, songwriter, and actress Tina Turner performs at the Brighton Centre, Brighton, UK, 11th March 1985. (Photo by John Rogers/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Tina Turner performs at the Brighton Centre, Brighton, UK, 11th March 1985 (John Rogers/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Turner started a band after graduating from high school with her first husband Ike Turner. The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll began wearing her hair like other Motown stars at the beginning of the 1960s. In addition to receiving treatments for smoothness, Tina would sport glam updos in band publicity images and onstage. However, she first turned to wigs after a terrible trip to the hairdresser in the same decade. The actress detailed how a straightening procedure she underwent went horribly wrong, leaving her with fragile locks in her 2018 biography. She wrote in 'Tina Turner: My Love Story, "It took an accident, one that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, to prompt me to get my first wig. I was at a hair salon with the [band's backing singers] the Ikettes and the beautician let the bleach stay on my head a little too long."


Didn't want to look like a 'curtain of fake hair'

Tina was forced to conceal what had happened with a wig because she had a show that night, and she ultimately fell in love with the way it looked. After that, she started donning her wigs both on and offstage. The actress claimed she never wanted to appear to be "wearing a curtain of fake hair," which is why she clipped her own extensions to make them look more natural.

'The wig was a life saver'

 (Giuseppe Cacace, John Lamparski, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
'The wig was a life-saver, but more than that, I loved the way it looked' (Giuseppe Cacace, John Lamparski, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The artist began to experiment with long, straight hair in the years that followed, just like other female vocalists of the era did. She reflected on the look she had at the time and stated, "The wig was a life-saver, but more than that, I loved the way it looked, how the hair moved when I moved, how it was straight and pretty and held a style, no matter what I did."

'In a way, it is my hair'

But after she and her violent ex-husband Ike Turner divorced, she made the decision to reinvent herself with the legendary blond mane. The 'What's Love Got to Do With It' singer provided instructions for how to get her signature hairstyle in a 1985 Good Morning America interview. "First of all, you need to wash them and let them dry by themselves," Turner stated. "Then you need to ruffle them with a comb and rub them with hair gel and ruffle again. I repeat this about three times." The icon penned in her biography, "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."


'I’ve been making them all my life'

In the 1990s, Tina chose a somewhat smaller set of wigs for her global tour, but she preserved the beloved blonde tips. Fans were astounded in 1996 when the singer revealed that she manufactures her own wigs and imports hair from Italy and Africa in a Swiss television interview. She quipped, "She joked: 'That’s why I don’t have many of them, because it’s difficult. I’ve been making them all my life, so they’ve never looked like they’ve been taken off a hanger."

'What if he were disappointed by the real me?'

Turner developed a strong sense of self through her wigs. However, Tina acknowledged in her biography that she was 'nervous' about how potential partners might react to her wigs before she found love a second time. She subsequently scaled back her enormous mane in favor of a shorter haircut with blonde and brown accents. The icon said, "I loved the comfort [wigs] gave me and the ease with which they guaranteed a great look, but I always had some fears." "Don’t laugh, but I’ve always been a little nervous about starting a relationship with a new man because I didn’t know how my wig would be received," she revealed. Turner added, "As much as I loved the convenience and easy beauty, I always ran the risk of meeting a man who might have a problem becoming romantically involved with Tina, with her bountiful hair and glamorous trimmings, but waking up with unadorned Anna Mae. What if he were disappointed by the real me?"


What was her last hairstyle?


In her final image shared on Twitter in March 2021, the iconic performer can be seen getting ready for her HBO documentary 'Tina' while sporting a honey brown blunt cut bang wig.

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 How Tina Turner got her first wig after visit to salon went terribly wrong