Oprah Winfrey Mourns ‘Role Model’ Tina Turner In Emotional Tribute: ‘Simply The Best’

A lifelong super fan and friend, Oprah was devastated to hear the news of Tina Turner's passing. Her tribute is proof of that.

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Image Credit: Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock

She was simply the best, that Tina Turner, and no one knew it better than Oprah Winfrey. For decades, the decorated TV show host was friends with the Queen of Rock N’ Roll, as well as one of her biggest fans. That’s why when news broke of Tina’s passing on May 24, 2023, Oprah was one of the first to feel the loss. She took to Instagram with a photo carousel you can SEE HERE, as well as a video post of the duo onstage during a performance.

“I started out as a fan of Tina Turner, then a full-on groupie, following her from show to show around the country, and then, eventually, we became real friends,” the talk show queen wrote in the emotional caption on May 24. “She is our forever goddess of rock ‘n’ roll who contained a magnitude of inner strength that grew throughout her life. She was a role model not only for me but for the world. She encouraged a part of me I didn’t know existed.”

“Once she claimed her freedom from years of domestic abuse, her life became a clarion call for triumph,” she continued. “I’m grateful for her courage, for showing us what victory looks like wearing Manolo’s and a leather miniskirt. She once shared with me that when her time came to leave this earth, she would not be afraid, but excited and curious. Because she had learned how to LIVE surrounded by her beloved husband, Erwin, and friends. I am a better woman, a better human, because her life touched mine. She was indeed simply the best.”


Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey at ‘THE COLOR PURPLE’ MUSICAL OPENING NIGHT AT THE BROADWAY THEATRE in 2005 (Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock)

Alongside the video post the same day, Oprah wrote, “I had the chance to join Tina onstage during her ‘Wildest Dreams’ tour and felt a glimpse of her enchanted world. I was so nervous that my knees were actually knocking together. Dancing onstage with her in Los Angeles was the most fun I ever remember having stepping out of my box. Tina lived out of the box and encouraged me and every woman to do the same.”

After Tina’s passing, Oprah paid tribute to her in a longer tribute on her Oprah Daily website. She shared how she received the news of the singer’s passing and how she had visited her while she was ill in Switzerland many years ago. “The words stunned me into immediate tears. I had been expecting to hear this news four years ago in 2019 after visiting her at a hospital in Switzerland, where she told me she was ready to leave this earth,” she recalled. “She said she had a full life and was ‘tired.’ I’m always wary when someone who is ill says they’re tired. It often means they are tired of the work and energy it takes to stay alive.”

Oprah continued and said that getting to be friends with the “Proud Woman” singer was one of the highlights of her career. “We eventually became friends and I got to eat eggs with truffle for the first time at her breakfast table, laugh in her kitchen, attend her wedding to Erwin,” she wrote. “I would’ve been fine remaining a Tina groupie, but becoming her friend was a blessing in my lifetime.”

Tina’s team released a statement via Facebook confirming the singer’s death shortly after news broke. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner,” the message read. “With her music and her boundless passion for life, she enchanted millions of fans around the world and inspired the stars of tomorrow. Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music. All our heartfelt compassion goes out to her family. Tina, we will miss you dearly.

The singer’s family also shared a separate statement. “Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock’n Roll’ has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland,” her family said, per Rolling Stone. “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

To Oprah, Tina was just that — an idol who had become her close friend through the years of working together. Tina famously surprised Oprah with an electric performance of ‘Simply The Best’ during her 50th birthday show. In the years that followed, Oprah would interview the rockstar multiple times about everything from her abusive relationship with ex Ike Turner to her work on the TINA Broadway musical.