Following Tina Turner’s death on May 24, 2023, at the age of 83, fans around the world have been paying tribute to the legendary “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and celebrating her many accomplishments. Over the course of her incredible five-decade career, the long-legged, raspy-voiced, eternally youthful singer sold more than 150 million records and earned 12 Grammys. She was twice inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—first as a member of Ike and Tina Turner, and later as a solo artist. She also set one astounding concert-attendance record that many people might not be aware of.
On January 16, 1988, Turner performed for approximately 188,000 fans at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In doing so, she set a Guinness World Record for “largest paying concert attendance for a solo artist.” The previous record, 170,000 fans, had been set by Frank Sinatra at the very same stadium eight years earlier.
At the time, Turner was midway through her Break Every Rule Tour, a triumphant global trek that launched in Munich, Germany, on March 4, 1987, and ended in Osaka, Japan, on March 30, 1988. Along the way, Turner played 209 concerts in 132 cities. The tour was initially billed as Turner’s farewell to the road, but in an October 1987 interview with Jet magazine, she clarified that it would be her “last tour for now.” She wanted to take a year off and enjoy a little downtime.
But first, she had a show to do, and as always, she gave it her all. At the record-breaking Rio de Janeiro concert, Turner performed 19 songs and cycled through three miniskirts, undeterred by temps in the high 80s. While Turner was undoubtedly a sex symbol, the audience skewed heavily female, according to a UPI recap. It’s likely many women were inspired by the way Turner had left her abusive husband, Ike, and forged a successful solo career in the ’80s.
“This is important,” a 37-year-old fan named Angela Almeida told UPI. “She transmits that side of her, of suffering, and I certainly feel that.”
Brazil’s deep and abiding love for Tina Turner is evident in footage of the show, which was released on video as Tina Turner: Live in Rio 1988. “The audience was incredible,” Turner said after the concert. “They really took over.”