CelebrityMusicians

April 04, 2020

Tina Turner Has Faced Hard Times in Life, Including a Tough Childhood and a Painful Divorce

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Her life was marked by her relationship with a man that gave her a career but nearly stole everything from her, but fortunately, she came to her senses about her own worth and fought through.

80-year-old Tina Turner is known as an influential singer, an occasional Hollywood actress, and as a survivor of a terrible abusive relationship with late musician Ike Turner, who passed away in 2007, with no regrets about his past with Tina.

Tina had a hard and often lonely childhood, and this might have something to do with the fact that she naively felt into the trap that her relationship with such a man ended up being. This is all she had to go through before gaining her freedom.

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Tina Turner. I Image: Getty Images.

CHILDHOOD

Born Anna Mae Bullock in the little town of Nutbush, Tennessee, the little girl that was going to grow up to be a superstar was the younger child of a couple of sharecroppers named Floyd and Zelma Bullock.

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When Anna was still a teenager, her father took off and let her and her older sister Alline on their own, a few years after their mother did the same. The sisters were raised by their grandmother until the latter died. 

Without any place to be, and still underage, Anna and Alline reunited with their estranged mother in St. Louis, a city where Anna made acquaintance with two of the most influential things in her life: the music scene and Ike Turner.

Tina Turner. I Image: Getty Images.

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MEETING IKE

It was in part thanks to her sister Alline that Anna first met the musician and bandleader Ike Turner since Alline had become a barmaid at the club where Turner’s band Kings of Rhythm used to perform.

Music was in Anna’s blood, and when the band’s drummer offered her an opportunity in front of the microphone one night, she couldn’t refuse to let everybody know that she had in fact a talented voice.

When Turner discovered that the beautiful 17-year-old girl could sing as she did, he knew he had found a goldmine, and that’s how he started to groom her. She didn’t imagine in what kind of trap she was walking.

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Tina and Ike Turner. I Image: Getty Images.

CHANGING HER NAME

Soon after that fateful night, Anna had become the biggest asset of the band, and this got her the opportunity to make her first recording. It was time for the aspiring singer to have a flashy stage name to match her energetic performance.

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That is when Ike came up with the name Tina for her, and the Kings of Rhythm became the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. He attached her name to hers as if he could own her, something that even someone as young as he saw with suspicion.

This way, Ike tried to legally own Tina’s performing name, and marrying her a couple of years later was another movement to secure his control over her, but she ultimately had the strength to gain her life and career back.

Tina Turner and Ike Turner. I Image: Getty Images.

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A FRATERNAL RELATIONSHIP GONE WRONG

Tina knew early on that Ike was a controlling and abusive person, but she didn’t worry about it much in the beginning. After all, the two started off as friends, and as Tina shared, she saw him as her “brother.” 

As she told Oprah Winfrey decades later, Tina was shocked when Ike started to approach her in a sexual way soon after she started to steal the spotlight from him after the hit single “A Fool In Love” was released.

Looking back, she saw this as another form of control on Ike’s part, and even if she had second thoughts about it at the time, she played along for as long as she tolerated, with her heart set on her rising career.

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IKE BEAT HER

But soon, Tina had the first taste of Ike’s physical violence, and she told Winfrey in detail about the first time he beat her after he heard that she had expressed doubts about having her stage name attached to his.

According to the singer, Ike called her into his office and as her what she was doing to him, and then proceeded to hit her across the head with a wooden shoe stretcher and forced her to have intimacy with him.

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“You have really gotten yourself into something,” Tina thought after the ordeal and knowing this was only the first step for her to get away from the awful and dangerous situation.  

Tina Turner. I Image: Getty Images.

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HITTING BOTTOM

In parallel to Tina’s domestic nightmare, which had just begun in the episode mentioned above, the musical duo went on to release dozens of hit songs before the personal and professional relationship came to an abrupt end in 1976.

While Tina was watching her dream career reaching new heights, she had to endure too much in those years, something that put her on the verge of suicide as early as 1968, as she revealed in her 2018 memoir “My Love Story.”

When Tina woke up in the hospital from her suicide attempt with sleeping pills, Ike’s far from supporting words were alleged, “You should die,” but as painful as it was, Tina walked out of the experience with a new will to live her own life, even if this was going to require even more courage on her part, and time.

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BREAKING FREE FROM IKE

It took Tina nearly a decade since she had the revelation that she was meant to live her life fully and without fear, but one summer, while in the middle of a tour with Ike, she walked away from him and never looked back.

Famously, all she had on her were 36 cents and a Mobil gas card in her pocket, running away right after taking the last beating from her abusive husband.

She had to undergo an excruciating divorce, covering expenses for the shows she missed and fighting for the legal right to use the name that she turned into a legend, Tina Turner. 

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Tina Turner and her German husband Erwin Bach. I Image: Getty Images.

The divorce finalized in 1978, two years after Tina took her first step toward a fresh start, and she succeeded in build herself an outstanding career as a solo artist.

Tina retired from performing in 2009, after recording ten studio albums and touring for more than 30 years. In 2013, she married her longtime partner Erwin Bach. She renounced her US citizenship and spends her quiet retirement in Switzerland. 

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