Oprah Winfrey Pays Tribute to 'Role Model' Tina Turner After Her Death: 'Her Life Touched Mine'

Oprah Winfrey and Tina Turner
Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Winfrey said she was a 'better woman' because of Turner's influence.

Oprah Winfrey posted a reflective tribute to the late Tina Turner on Wednesday, hours after Turner's rep confirmed the legendary singer's death. 

"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," Winfrey wrote on Instagram. She paired the caption with a series of photos of the two women together.

"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," Winfrey continued. 

Turner died peacefully on Wednesday, the singer's rep told ET, after a long illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. 

"Once she claimed her freedom from years of domestic abuse, her life became a clarion call for triumph," Winfrey 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." 

Winfrey has described herself as Turner's groupie many times over the course of their friendship, once saying that watching her friend perform was a "spiritual" experience. 

"Watching Tina perform is what I call a spiritual experience," Winfrey said in a 2005 edition of O, the Oprah Winfrey magazine. "Each electrifying swing of her miniskirt, every slide of her three-inch Manolos across the stage, sends a message: I am here. I have triumphed. I will not be broken. When I leave a Tina concert, I feel the same way I do after I’ve seen any great art: I want to be a better human being."

Fans on Twitter also took time on Wednesday to commemorate the legendary friendship shared by both celebrities, specifically a memory from 2004 when Turner surprised her friend with an impromptu performance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004 to celebrate Winfrey's birthday. 

"As a kid, Oprah Winfrey was my biggest star in the world," one Twitter user wrote. "Then Oprah lost her mind when Tina Turner surprised her with her 50th Birthday Show — that’s when I learned who the biggest star in the world was to the biggest star in my world. RIP to the World's Biggest Star."

"She made Oprah break her professional persona and simply be a Huge Fan again," another wrote. "That’s the power of Tina Turner."

In 1996 and 1997, Winfrey and her talk show followed Turner's Wildest Dreams tour performances around the country. Winfrey had a wig made styled after her friend, and even once told fans she "wouldn't take the wig off," even to go to sleep. 

Turner released nine full-length studio albums in her lifetime, winning eight GRAMMYs, three GRAMMY Hall of Fame Awards and the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. She headlined the Super Bowl halftime show, received a Kennedy Center Honor for her contribution to the culture and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice -- the first time in 1991 with Ike, and the second time in 2021, weeks ahead of her 82nd birthday.

After taking eight years away from the public eye, she then launched her final tour in 2008. The 50th Anniversary Tour began in October 2008 and went through May 2009 with a total of 84 sold-out dates across North America and Europe.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner," the singer's rep wrote on Wednesday. "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."

Tina is survived by her adopted sons Michael and Ike Jr. Her sons, Ronnie Turner and Craig Turner, died in December 2022 and July 2018, respectively.