The late ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, Tina Turner, had an infamously tumultuous and abusive relationship with her first husband Ike Turner.
In Tina’s 1986 autobiography, I, Tina: My Life Story, the soul singer shared that she suffered physical abuse throughout her 16 year marriage to Ike that pushed her to attempted suicide.
The pair, who made up the R&B duo Ike and Tina Turner Revue, divorced in 1978. Their volatile relationship has been the focus of productions such as the 1993 film, What’s Love Got to Do With It and the 2018 West End musical, Tina.
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Since their split, both Tina and Ike remarried and publicly discussed the allegations of abuse before Ike’s death in 2007.
Here, we take a look back at how the ill-fated duo met, their musical success and Tina’s inspiring legacy of standing up against abuse.
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How Tina first met Ike
The pair first met in 1957 at a club in St Louis, Missouri when Tina was just 16 years old.
Still in high school, Tina had just moved to the city when she came across Ike’s band, Kings of Rhythm, performing at the nightclub.
At the time, Ike was in a relationship with Lorraine Taylor when Tina began occasionally performing with the band.
Tina would go on to become a permanent fixture, forming the musical duo act, Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
Ike and Tina Turner Revue
Born Anna Mae Bullock, Tina officially changed her name to ‘Tina Turner’ at Ike’s bequest after previously going by the stage name, ‘Little Ann’.
The pair then formed the R&B duo, Ike and Tina Turner Revue, where Tina first wowed audiences with her show-stopping voice as the act’s lead singer.
They released their first album in 1961 and found international success after opening for the Rolling Stones on their British tour leg in 1966 and later their American tour in 1969.
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Their first hit track was none other than Tina’s rendition of Proud Mary which won the duo a Grammy Award for best R&B vocal performance by a group.
Ike and Tina went on to produce 21 albums with hits including River Deep Mountain High, Bold Soul Sister and It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.
A volatile marriage
After becoming pregnant with their first and only child, Ronnie Turner, Tina reportedly married Ike when she was 22-years-old in 1962 in Tijuana, Mexico.
Tina adopted Ike’s two children from his previous relationship while Ike adopted Tina’s son Craig Hill.
After 16 years together, Tina filed for divorce in 1976, citing “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for their split. The divorce was finalised two years later, with the pair going their separate ways both personally and musically.
In her 1986 autobiography I, Tina: My Life Story, a decade after her divorce, Tina revealed Ike had frequently abused and cheated on her, which led to a suicide attempt.
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“I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story,” Tina stated in her 2021 documentary, Tina.
In her 2018 memoir, My Love Story, the singer detailed how Ike would beat her head with a “wooden shoe stretcher” and burn her with scalding coffee.
“Our life together was a mockery of a ‘normal’ relationship: defined by abuse and fear, not love, or even affection.”
Ike spoke out publicly in response to Tina’s allegations, admitting in his 1999 memoir, Takin’ Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner, that he had “slapped” and “punched” her.
Tina told the Sunday Times in 2018 that while she had forgiven Ike decades later, she would “not work with him” ever again.
Before dying from a cocaine overdose in 2007, where Turner did not attend his funeral, Ike revealed he had written Tina an apology letter that he never sent.
Tina’s inspiring legacy of ‘hope’ for survivors of abuse
On May 24th, 2023, the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ died at the age of 83 after suffering a longtime illness.
The songstress’ death has brought a wave of star-studded tributes flooding in, praising Tina’s inspiring legacy for fellow survivors of domestic abuse.
Former Spice Girls’ member, Melanie Janine Brown, aka ‘Scary Spice’, posted to Instagram to share how Tina’s death was “personally” devastating to her following Mel B’s allegations of abuse against ex-husband Stephen Belafonte.
“She did the impossible she left him she survived she got away, and gave ALL survivors like me hope”, Brown wrote.
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Oprah Winfrey, who has spoken previously about her childhood trauma as a survivor of sexual assault, also released a tribute praising her longtime friend Tina Turner for being a “clarion call for triumph” after claiming her “freedom” from abuse.
“I’m grateful for her courage, for showing us what victory looks like wearing Manolo’s and a leather miniskirt”, Winfrey said.
If you or someone you know is in need of support contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 732 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Alcohol and Drug Support Line on 1800 198 024. In an emergency dial Triple Zero (000).
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Simply the Best: Tina Turner’s life in pictures
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