Tina Turner’s relationship with Ike: How she broke free and challenged her abusive ex-husband

Tina Turner shot to fame alongside her ex-husband, Ike Turner, in what seemed like a heavenly musical match.

But it wasn’t until Turner fled the couple’s hotel room in 1976 and later revealed the reality of their relationship in a bombshell 1981 interview that the world knew about the toxic marriage the musical icon had been through. survived.

“It was my relationship with Ike that made me the most unhappy. At first, I was really in love with him. Look what he did for me. But he was totally unpredictable,” Turner wrote in his autobiography of 1986, “I, Tina.”

After escaping the relationship, Turner defined herself as a solo artist and the queen of rock and roll.

But the journey was not easy.

Tina Turner detailed her life in a 1986 autobiography and 2018 memoir, alleging years of abuse at the hands of her estranged husband, Ike Turner. (Getty Images)


Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock, met Ike when she was 16 while still in high school, and he was the frontman of Kings of Rhythm, one of the first bands to introduce rock n’ roll to the world with their song. “Rocket 88.”

The young Turner sang BB King’s “You Know I Love You” at a St. Louis nightclub, impressing Ike with her vocals, and she soon joined the group.

Their relationship remained platonic from 1957 to 1960, when they began an affair while Ike was still with his girlfriend, Lorraine Taylor.

In 1960 they recorded their first hit, “A Fool In Love”, and Turner said she did not want to continue the relationship. According to his 1986 autobiography, “I, Tina”, Ike responded by hitting her over the head with a wooden stretcher.

Ike and Tina Turner back to back in a photo circa 1963

Ike and Tina Turner pose for a portrait circa 1963. They were married a year earlier in Tijuana. (Michael Ochs Archive)

She noted that was when he first “instilled fear” in her during their relationship, and she decided to stay.

Turner later became pregnant and had the couple’s son, Ronnie, before later marrying Ike in Tijuana in 1962. The Turners became a blended family with their son, Ike’s two sons from Taylor and son de Turner with Kings of Rhythm band member Raymond Hill, Craig.

The group eventually morphed into the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and continued to tour and release singles like “I Idolize You”, “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine”, and “Poor Fool”.

In an excerpt from her 2018 memoir, “My Love Story: A Memoir,” Turner detailed the wedding day and night, saying she was hesitant to marry him, but felt she “didn’t have much choice. “. At the time he proposed, we had four children between us and a joint career as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.”

She also wrote that “there was no point in opposing it – it would just drive him crazy and could lead to a beating”, and Ike then took her to a “brothel” in Tijuana, writing, “I I was miserable, on the verge of tears, but there was no escape. We couldn’t leave until Ike was ready, and he was having a good old time.

Tina Turner and Ike Turner posing for photos in 1965

Ike and Tina Turner in photos from around 1965. (Getty Images)

By the mid-1960s, Turner and Ike were touring and releasing singles and albums, while continuing to abuse her. According to “My Love Story,” Ike gave her black eyes, broke her jaw, poured hot coffee on her face, and regularly cheated on her with multiple women.

In a 2018 interview with The Times, Turner said: “There was violence because he had this fear that I would leave him. The other women, because I didn’t like him that way… The others women weren’t that bad, but it was the constant abuse.”

In 1966 Turner recorded “River Deep—Mountain High” with Phil Spector, and although the single was not a hit in the US, it did well in the UK and the Ike and Tina Turner review toured with the Rolling Stones .

Still, Turner and Ike’s relationship was deteriorating and seriously affecting Turner’s mental health.

In 1968, Turner attempted suicide by taking too many pills, writing in her 2018 memoir, “I knew I had to go, but I had no money and didn’t know how to take the first step. At my lowest, I convinced myself that death was my only way out.”

Tina Turner plays in sunglasses with Ike Turner in a black and white photo.

Tina Turner wrote in several memoirs that Ike abused her, burned her with hot coffee, and regularly broke her nose and left her with black eyes. (Ivan Keeman/Redferns)

She detailed that Ike forced her back to work soon after she was hospitalized.

“I came out of the darkness believing I was meant to survive,” she wrote. “I was here for a reason.”

The group finally found mainstream success in the early 1970s with “Proud Mary”, becoming their best-selling single and earning them a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group.

However, by then, Ike was deep into a cocaine addiction that burned a hole in his septum and caused him frequent nosebleeds, in addition to altering his mood.

In his memoir, Turner wrote, “He used my nose as a punching bag so many times I could feel the blood running down my throat when I sang.”

“He broke my jaw. And I couldn’t remember what it was like not to have a black eye.”

Tina Turner performing in 1966

Tina Turner with Ike Turner in 1966. (Getty Images)


In 1976, Turner reached his breaking point and left Ike.

As the group arrived in Dallas, Turner describes in her memoir arguing with Ike on the way to their hotel, catching him arguing, leading to him punching her in their limo on the way to the hotel.

Later that day, she wondered, “‘What if I grabbed a bag and ran away?'”

Turner decided to do just that and fled the hotel to a Ramada Inn, crossing “several lanes of high-speed traffic” with only “36 cents” in his pocket and his bloodstained clothes.

She filed for divorce the same year, and it was finalized later in 1978. Turner kept her stage name, two cars, jewelry, furs, while taking on debts for missed concert dates and a lien IRS.

Tina Turner performs in a white dress alongside Ike Turner.

Tina and Ike Turner in 1974. In 1976, she decided to leave the relationship, fleeing their hotel room with only “36 cents” in her pocket. (Michael Ochs Archive)

In 1981, while struggling to build a solo career, Turner opened up about Ike’s abuse in a shocking interview with People magazine.

She told the outlet at the time that Ike was always looking for ways to intimidate and threaten her, saying, “Shots were fired in my house, one of my girlfriends’ car was burned and there were threats I’m not saying Ike did it I don’t think he would have hurt me but he wanted to get closer and scare me.

Despite Ike’s shadow, Turner released his 1984 album “Private Dancer”, which had several hits, including one of Turner’s now signature songs, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”

Her comeback culminated with three Grammy wins in 1985, including record of the year for “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”

Turner’s success continued with albums, film appearances and tours. In 1993, she received the biopic treatment in the film “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” based on her memoir, starring Angela Bassett in an Oscar-nominated performance.

The film was well received, but Turner admitted she never watched the whole thing.

Movie poster for Tina Turner biopic What's love got to do with it?

The poster for the 1993 film “What’s Love Got to Do With it” starring Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett as Ike and Tina Turner. (John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive)


Ike regularly denied allegations of abuse by Turner throughout his life.

In a controversial 1985 interview with Spin magazine, Ike said: “I’ve had a temper for years. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done, absolutely nothing. Yeah, I did. hit her, but I didn’t hit her. more than the average guy beats his wife.”

Later in his 2001 autobiography, “Taking Back My Name”, Ike wrote: “Of course I slapped Tina. There were times when I knocked her to the ground without thinking. But I didn’t. never beaten.”

Ike died in 2007 of a cocaine overdose at the age of 76.

At the time, Turner released a statement through his spokesperson Michele Schweitzer which read, “Tina knows that Ike passed away earlier today. She has had no contact with him for 35 years. . No further comment will be made.”

Ike Turner in a purple suit holding his grammy

Ike Turner poses with his Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for ‘Risin’ With The Blues’ in the press room during the 49th annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on February 11, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. Ike would die later that year in December from a cocaine overdose. (from Bucci)


In her 2018 Times interview, Turner was asked if she could ever forgive Ike.

“As an old person, I forgave him, but that wouldn’t work with him,” she said. “He asked for another tour with me, and I said, ‘No, absolutely not. Ike was not someone who could be forgiven and allowed back.”

She continued: “It’s all gone, all forgotten. I don’t know what these dreams are about. The dreams are still there – not the violence, the anger. I wonder if I’m still holding anything back.”

Tina Turner performing in 2000

Tina Turner performed in 2000. She retired in 2009 to Switzerland, but later released her 2018 memoir, “My Love Story,” where she encouraged hope for people in abusive relationships. (Getty Images)


Turner remains an inspiration as a musician and a woman who survived an abusive relationship. In her 2018 memoir, she encouraged others to find strength and hope for a better life.

“For anyone in an abusive relationship, I say this: nothing can be worse than where you are now. Nothing.

“If you get up and go, if you rise from your ashes, life will open up for you again.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button