Tina Turner’s death: How the late icon escaped an abusive first marriage to Ike Turner

The late ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, Tina Turner, had a notoriously tumultuous and abusive relationship with her first husband Ike Turner.

In Tina’s 1986 autobiography, Me, Tina: My Life StoryThe soul singer shared that she was physically abused during her 16-year marriage to Ike, causing her to contemplate suicide.

The couple that formed the R&B duo Ike and Tina Turner Revue, divorced in 1978. Their unstable relationship was at the heart of works like the 1993 film, What does love have to do with it? and the 2018 West End musical, tina.

READ MORE: Richard Wilkins shares touching tribute to ‘sweet and eclectic’ Tina Turner

Tina Turner and Ike Turner
Tina Turner divorced Ike Turner in 1978, then accused him of abuse (Getty)

Since their split, both Tina and Ike have remarried and publicly discussed the abuse allegations before Ike’s death in 2007.

Here’s a look back at how the ill-fated duo met, their musical success, and Tina’s inspiring legacy of standing up to abuse.

READ MORE: ‘Wonderful Person’: Jimmy Barnes’ Dedication to Tina

How did Tina first meet Ike

The couple first met in 1957 at a club in St Louis, Missouri when Tina was 16 years old.

When she was in high school, Tina had just moved to the city when she ran into Ike’s band Kings of Rhythm, performing at a nightclub.

At the time, Ike was in a relationship with Lorraine Taylor as Tina occasionally began performing with the band.

Tina would go on to become a permanent fixture, forming the musical duo, 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 request after adopting the stage name ‘Little Ann’ previously.

The pair later formed the R&B duo, Ike and Tina Turner Revue, where Tina first wowed audiences with her stunning vocals as the lead singer of the repertoire.

They released their first album in 1961 and achieved international success after opening the Rolling Stones on a UK tour in 1966 and then a US tour in 1969.

Ike and Tina Turner at Paris in Paris, France in August 1975.
Ike and Tina Turner in Paris, France in August 1975. (Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

READ MORE:Simply the Best: Tina Turner’s Life in Pictures

Their first hit was none other than Tina’s performance Proud Mary The duo won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group.

Ike and Tina went on to produce 21 albums with hits including Deep river high mountain, Bold soul And It will be fine.

A tumultuous marriage

After becoming pregnant with their first and only child, Ronnie Turner, Tina is said to have married Ike when she was 22 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 separation. The divorce was finalized two years later, the couple went their separate ways both personally and musically.

In her 1986 autobiography Me, Tina: My Life StoryA decade after their divorce, Tina revealed that Ike regularly abused and cheated on her, leading to suicidal thoughts.

Ike and Tina Turner
1965 advertising portrait of husband and wife R&B duo, Ike & Tina Turner. Ike is holding an acoustic guitar. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) (Supplied)

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“I’ve had a life of abuse, there’s no other way to tell the story,” Tina said in her 2021 documentary, tina.

In her 2018 memoir, My love storyThe singer detailed how Ike would hit her on the head with a “wooden shoe stretcher” and set her on fire with hot coffee.

“Our life together is 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, Take My Name Back: Confessions of Ike Turnerthat he “slapped” and “punched” her.

Tina said to Sunday Times in 2018, although she forgave Ike decades later, she will “no longer work with him”.

Before dying of a cocaine overdose in 2007, when Turner failed to attend his funeral, Ike revealed that he had written Tina an apology letter he never sent.

Tina’s inspirational legacy of ‘hope’ for abuse survivors

On May 24, 2023, ‘Queen of Rock’ n’ Roll’ passed away at the age of 83 after a long illness.

singer passed away brought a wave of starry tributes that flooded incelebrates Tina’s inspirational legacy of domestic violence survivors.

Former Spice Girls member, Melanie Janine Brown, aka ‘Scary Spice’, post on Instagram to share How Tina’s death has devastated her “personally” following Mel B’s allegations of abuse against ex-husband Stephen Belafonte.

“She did the impossible, she left him, she survived, she escaped and brought ALL survivors like I hope,” Brown wrote.

Oprah Winfrey and Tina Turner
Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey during the opening of “The Color Purple” on Broadway at the Broadway Theater in New York, New York, USA. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic) (FilmMagic)

READ MORE: Tina Turner has suffered what no parent has to endure

Oprah Winfrey, who once spoke of her childhood trauma as a sexual assault survivor, also released a tribute praising his longtime friend Tina Turner for being a “clear call to victory” after declaring “freedom” from abuse.

“I’m grateful for her bravery, for showing us what victory looks like wearing Manolo’s leather mini dress,” Winfrey said.

If you or someone you know is in need, contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 732 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Alcohol and drug helpline on 1800 198 024. In an emergency, dial Triple Zero (000).

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Tina Turner's Death

Simply the Best: Tina Turner’s Life in Pictures


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