Like so many fans, celebrities and fellow artists paying tribute to Queen of Rock N’ Roll Tina Turner, Cher thought her friend was simply the best. The singer paid tribute to Turner, who died on Wednesday (May 24) at age 83, during a call in to MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber just hours after the news broke that the Grammy-winner and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer had passed following a long illness.
“I started going to visit her because I thought, ‘I need to put this time into our friendship, so she knows we haven’t forgotten her,’” Cher told Melber. “So we all took turns going and spending time with her and it made her happy.” She noted that a friend said it was always a scene when they were together because they would crack each other up and laugh their “distinct” laughs.
Cher said the first time she went to visit Turner at her home in Switzerland the singer was laying on a chaise lounge she had positioned in front of a window overlooking a lake and warned that she didn’t have much time to hang out. “Then five hours later we were laughing like crazy and she wanted to get up and show everything that she’d bought in the house,” Cher said. “She was having a good time in spite of the fact that she was really sick and not wanting people to know about it.”
Though no cause of death was given, Cher said that Turner had “her dialysis machine in her house,” hinting that the “What’s Love Got to Do With It” star may have been employing the device typically used by people with kidney failure or end-stage renal disease. Turner was known to suffer from kidney issues and got a kidney transplant from her husband, Erwin Bach, in 2017.
“She fought this sickness for such a long time and she was so strong as you think she would be, but I know towards the end, she told me once, she said, ‘I’m really ready. I just don’t want to put up with this anymore,’” Cher said.
Cher called Turner “one of the great artists” in rock history, saying there was no one else like her. “As a woman, she gave you lots of strength and I’m sure she’s encouraged so many young people… she gave me lots of strength sometimes and I gave her lots of strength, too. I think we were perfect friends for each other truthfully.”
Calling her a “force,” Cher said Turner always approached life “head-on… She wasn’t about to stop. She might not have won every battle, but she fought every war. She was there fighting for all the things she believed in.”
Thinking about the last time they hung out, Cher — who first met Turner when she was in the midst of her abusive marriage to ex-husband Ike Turner — said Tina sent her home with a very memorable gift. “She gave me a pair of shoes the last time I saw her. What kind of shoes? Tina Turner shoes!” Cher laughed. “The big high heels that she just [walked] around in like they were nothing.”
Listen to Cher’s tribute to Turner below.