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Tina Turner Recalls Her First Love from Nutbush with a Twinkle in Her Eye during an Interview with Oprah in 2005

Camila Santiago
Sep 16, 2021
08:00 P.M.
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Behind the chart-topping hits and rockstar life, Tina Turner had a tumultuous and painful relationship with her ex-husband and former singer partner Ike and recalled first love during an interview.

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Tina Turner is known for her remarkable voice, outstanding performance, and R&B hits that became long-time favorites such as “Nutbush City Limit,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” and “We Don’t Need Another Hero.”

Born Anna Mae Bullock, she dreamed of being a star watching Loretta Young and Betty Grable on the silver screens at the “white neighbors” TV she would watch once a week as a kid. The little Anna lived with her maternal grandmother in the tiny town of Nutbush in Tenessee.

After spliting with Ike, Tina Turner breakout in the '80s with the solo album Private Dancer. | Source: Getty Images

After spliting with Ike, Tina Turner breakout in the '80s with the solo album Private Dancer. | Source: Getty Images

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When her grandmother died, Tina went to live with her mother in St. Louis, Missouri. As a teen, she immersed herself in St. Louis's R&B scene. It was at the Club Manhattan in 1956 that she met her former partner and ex-husband Ike.

WHEN IKE AND TINA TURNER REVUE WAS BORN

Ike often performed at the club as the leader of the band Kings of Rhythm. Tina got op on stage to sing a B.B. King song and Ike, and she immediately formed a bond and soon became the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

Ike and Tina Turner became a R&B success as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Circa 1966. | Source: Getty Images

Ike and Tina Turner became a R&B success as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Circa 1966. | Source: Getty Images

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The pair scored several chart-topping R&B hits in the ‘60s, including “A Fool in Love,” “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” and “Tra La La La La.”

FROM LOVE STORY TO HORROR STORY

From successful performing partners into a real-life relationship, Tina and Ike got married in 1962 in Tijuana, Mexico. What came to the public later, with further details in the 2018 memoir, “My Love Story,” was the physical and emotional abuse Tina suffered from him.

Tina Turner and Ike Turner, portrait, London, October 1975. | Source: Getty Images

Tina Turner and Ike Turner, portrait, London, October 1975. | Source: Getty Images

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The sparkle the two had on-stage hid Ike’s violent behavior towards his partner, coming into a relentless point of Tina being forced to perform right after being battered.

Tina said in her memoir that she lived in constant fear and pain, enduring his drug addiction and unashamedly parading his mistresses:

"He threw hot coffee in my face, giving me third-degree burns. He used my nose as a punching bag [...] that I could taste blood running down my throat when I sang.”

Tina Turner of the husband-and-wife R&B duo Ike & Tina Turner poses for a portrait in 1964. | Source: Getty Images

Tina Turner of the husband-and-wife R&B duo Ike & Tina Turner poses for a portrait in 1964. | Source: Getty Images

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Tina

revealed

she attempted to commit suicide during one of their tours. She took 50 sleeping pills and woke up in a hospital, with Ike next to her saying, “You should’ve died [expletive].”

She eventually left Ike in a bloody scape with 56 cents in her pocket. She began a new life and a solo career, making a comeback in her mid-40s. She took off with an Al Green song remake, “Let’s Stay Together.”

Singer Tina Turner performs live on stage at Wembley Stadium, in 1990. | Source: Getty Images

Singer Tina Turner performs live on stage at Wembley Stadium, in 1990. | Source: Getty Images

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WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT

Ever since she left Ike, Tina became a worldwide success. In her breakout solo album, “Private Dancer,” she sold more than 10 million copies, scored a number one hit with “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” and won three Grammys.

For around 30 years, Tina has been living in Switzerland with her longtime partner, Erwin Bach. Tina confessed that with Erwin, it was love at first sight:

Erwin Bach and Tina Turner arrive at the press night performance of "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical" at the Aldwych Theatre on April 17, 2018 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

Erwin Bach and Tina Turner arrive at the press night performance of "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical" at the Aldwych Theatre on April 17, 2018 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

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“My heart went bah-boom. It means that a soul has met, and my hands were shaking.”

But it was during an interview with Oprah in 2005 that Tina opened up about her first love, from Nutbush:

Singers Tina Turner and David Bowie backstage at the Birmingham NEC, in 1989. | Source: Getty Images

Singers Tina Turner and David Bowie backstage at the Birmingham NEC, in 1989. | Source: Getty Images

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“When I think of Harry now, my heart beats faster. He was the most good-looking guy. Everything was in the right place—his eyes, his nose, his mouth. He was a basketball star.”

She shared with Oprah that Harry took her virginity, and she stopped seeing him because her grandmother disapproved of the relationship, even though Tina was madly in love:

Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the Giorgio Armani 40th Anniversary Silos Opening And Cocktail Reception on April 30, 2015 in Milan, | Source: Getty Images

Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the Giorgio Armani 40th Anniversary Silos Opening And Cocktail Reception on April 30, 2015 in Milan, | Source: Getty Images

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“At the time, I wanted to get married and have children. Harry would have been the one.”

Tina and Bach got married in 2013 in Zurich after decades of relationship. In her interview with Oprah in 2005, Tina said that marriage doesn’t matter to her -- what matters is their happiness.

They married in a lavish ceremony that included a guest list of stars such as Oprah Winfrey, David Bowie, Gayle King, Giorgio Armani, and Bryan Adams.

 Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the Giorgio Armani 40th Anniversary Boutique Cocktail Reception on April 29, 2015 in Milan, Italy. | Source: Getty Images

Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the Giorgio Armani 40th Anniversary Boutique Cocktail Reception on April 29, 2015 in Milan, Italy. | Source: Getty Images

In 2016, Tina had several ailments, including high blood pressure and her kidneys were malfunctioning. Bach donated one of his kidneys to save Tina from dialysis.

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