Tina Turner has disclosed that she still dreams about her abusive ex-husband Ike Turner. “When thinking about Ike, he revisits her in nightmares, he comes back in dreams,” she stated in her new self-titled documentary, Tina. The American-born Swiss singer had said in an earlier interview that she doesn’t know what the dreams are about. “The dreams are still there — not the violence, the anger,” she said. “I wonder if I’m still holding something in.”
Tina, now 81, met Ike when she was 16. He convinced her to join his band and their relationship later turned sexual in 1959. Tina got pregnant, and by 1962, the two were married. But the marriage soon turned violent. Fans enjoyed their music in the 1960s and ’70s without knowing of the abuse going on in the couple’s private lives.
In her memoir – I, Tina – the famed singer said Ike began abusing her from their wedding day and never stopped. Still, Tina knew that she would pull through. And she did.
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Born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939, Tina had a tough life growing up, picking cotton in the fields around Nutbush, Tennessee. Raised by her grandmother, she involved herself in St. Louis’ R&B music scene. While in her teens, she met Ike at a local nightclub Club Manhattan. Ike was then the leader of Kings of Rhythm, hailed as one of the first groups to introduce rock and roll with their song “Rocket 88.”
Ike and Tina soon formed a musical bond after the latter heard her sing. Not too long after, they became the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, producing their first R&B hit in 1960 with “A Fool in Love”. Tina, who had a child from a previous relationship, would have a son with Ike and the two reportedly married in 1962 in Tijuana, Mexico. Ike had two other sons as well before marrying Tina.
The husband and wife duo went on to produce top 10 R&B hits with “I Idolize You,” “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” “Poor Fool” and “Tra La La La La” backed by a band and the singers/dancers known as the Ikettes, according to Biography. Their big break came in 1971 with their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.” It earned the act a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group. Tina would later release “Nutbush City Limits” that hit both the pop and R&B charts.
While fans loved the music of the couple and their legendary performances with the Ikettes, Ike was abusing Tina without anyone knowing. According to Tina, she went through years of physical and emotional abuse from Ike, and would often have to force herself to sing and dance after being beaten. Ike, who was said to have survived deep trauma from his childhood, was into drinking, drugs and women. Tina said in an interview that he forced her to attend a live sex show the night of their wedding, saying the “experience was so disturbing.”
“I suppressed it, scratched it out.”
Tina recalled in another interview how Ike lost his temper when she refused to change her name. “First, he was verbally abusive. Then, he picked up a wooden shoe stretcher. Ike knew what he was doing. If you play guitar, you never use your fists in a fight. He used the shoe stretcher to strike me in the head — always the head.”
“People can’t imagine the kind of man he was,” she told The Daily Mail.
“There was violence because he had this fear that I was going to leave him,” Tina told The Times.
In her 2018 memoir, My Love Story, the famed singer recounted that sexual encounters with her then-husband were “an expression of hostility — a kind of rape — especially when it began or ended with a beating.”
“I had a lot of violence, houses burned, cars shot in to — the lowest you can think of in terms of abuse,” the singer and actress told Larry King in a 1997 interview.
Ike, in his own autobiography, Takin’ Back My Name, even admitted to slapping Tina, claiming she tricked him into marrying her.
Tina attempted to kill herself in 1968. When she recovered, she was more determined than ever to make it. After 14 years of marriage, she left Ike in 1976. She took no other assets apart from her performance name and two cars. Tina later signed with manager Roger Davies and joined Capitol/EMI Records, coming back bigger than ever as a solo artist with her 1984 Private Dancer album that included hits like “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, “Let’s Stay Together,” and “Better Be Good to Me”.
Tina eventually found love again. In 2013, she married her partner Edwin Bach whom she has been with since 1986. Ike, after serving time in prison for drug possession, released his own autobiography, Takin’ Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner, in 1999. He earned another Grammy in the category of Best Traditional Blues Album for his 2006 set “Risin’ With the Blues”. In December 2007, he died from a cocaine overdose.
Tina has also suffered health issues in recent times including a cancer diagnosis, a stroke and kidney failure, with her second husband Bach donating his own kidney for a transplant. In 2018, she lost her son Craig to suicide.
After 50 years of music, she is bidding farewell to her fans in the new HBO documentary Tina.