You’ve probably heard all about Ike and
Tina Turner, and how things got messy fast in their marriage. But what you might not
have heard about is what she did after she got out of the abusive relationship. The woman
who was once leading the entertainment industry has slowed down and stayed under the radar
for years. It seems her name, though still famous, is outweighing her as a person, so
we’ve got all the answers to your questions about the original soul sista! Tina entered the World as plain Anna Mae Bullock in November 1939. Her parents, Floyd Bullock
and Zelma Priscilla were hard-working but poor. Floyd was an overseer of share-croppers
at a farm in Tennessee, where Tina and Ruby Ailene, her older sister, had been born. During
World War II, the young Anna Mae and her sister were separated from their parents and sent
to live with their maternal grandparents in Knoxville.
When the war was over, the Bullock family were reunited in Knoxville, where Anna Mae
went to Flagg Grove school. She wasn’t very old before her family and schoolteachers noticed
that she had an interest in singing and she was soon enrolled to perform in the local
church choir. Unfortunately, domestic turbulence occurred
in the family home as Anna Mae entered her teenage years. Zelma ran away due to Floyd’s
abusive behavior and not long after that Floyd remarried and abandoned both his daughters.
With nowhere else to turn, Anna Mae returned to her grandmother.
She attended Carver High, playing basketball and cheerleading at the school but unfortunately,
when she was 16, further tragedy affected her. Anna’s grandmother died and she moved
to St Louis with her sister and mother. She graduated from Summer High School there and
had early ambitions to follow a career in Nursing.
Anna Mae would visit nightclubs in St Louis with her sister and it was at the Club Manhattan
that she met Ike Turner alongside ‘Kings of Rhythm’, his band that had a regular
slot at the club. It wasn’t long before Ike recognized her natural talent and gave
her an opportunity in the music business, employing her as a backing singer in 1958.
It was then that she began to use the stage name, Tina Turner.
Tina had her first child, Raymond Craig, in 1958 at the age of just 18. His father was
the saxophonist of Kings of Rhythm, Raymond Hill. After the child was born the relationship
between Tina and Raymond became strained, with the tension between the two finally resulting
in a fight between them. Ike and other band members intervened on Tina’s behalf and
the ensuing scuffle resulted in a broken leg for the unfortunate Raymond. who left the
band and returned home to Clarksdale, Mississippi. Tina moved in with Ike in 1958 and he began
training her musically. Initially, their relationship was purely platonic and Ike was still involved
with his common-law wife Lorraine Taylor at the time. By the next year, however, things
had changed and their relationship slowly developed, even though both of them were hesitant
initially about moving things forward. In early 1960 Tina and Ike conceived a child
and Tina gave birth to her second son, Ronald, in October of that year.
Early success followed for the duo and in 1960, Ike and Tina’s single ‘A Fool in
Love’ reached number two in the niche hot R&B chart. The year after ‘It’s Gonna
Work Out Fine’ managed the top twenty and gave the duo their first nomination for a
Grammy award, in the best performance category. The sixties were a turbulent time for Ike
and Turner professionally, as well as personally. In a five year period from 1964 to 1969, they
signed with many record labels, almost a dozen, but their popularity grew throughout the decade.
In 1965 Phil Spector saw them perform in Los Angeles and produced ‘River Deep – Mountain
High’ with Tina. The record was credited to both Ike and Tina but Spector, who was
well aware of Ike’s controlling attitude, paid him $20,000 to stay away from the studio
while the song was being recorded. It was not hugely successful at home but did better
in Europe, reaching number three in the singles chart in the UK. This resulted in Tina being
given the opportunity to open for Mick Jagger and the Stones during their UK tour.
Tina signed for Liberty records in 1970 and together with Ike, produced two albums, the
rock-influenced ‘Come Together’ in that year, followed by ‘Workin’ Together’
released in 1971. The duo’s popularity, helped by their popular Revue being performed
in Vegas, increased over time. Appearances on TV, including a performance on the Ed Sullivan
show, followed. In 1974 Tina recorded her first solo album
‘Tina Turns the Country on’. The album was an enormous success and Tina received
a Grammy nomination in the ‘Best Female R&B Vocal Performance’ category for her
efforts on it. In the same year, and in a departure from their normal sound, Ike and
Turner produced a gospel music album called ‘The Gospel According to Ike & Tina’ which
was another huge success, the pair were nominated for Best Soul Gospel Performance.
Also in 1974, Tina was in the London Based Musical ‘Tommy’, where she played the
role of ‘The Acid Queen’. Her popularity in the UK grew far greater and she released
a second solo album ‘The Acid Queen’ in August 1975.
As the seventies rolled on, Ike’s cocaine addiction spiraled out of control and the
long-suffering Tina had finally endured enough of her violent husband. In 1976, during a
taxi ride to the Dallas Hilton Hotel, where the pair were due to perform, Tina finally
snapped and fought back. A bloody fist-fight ensued and soon after arriving at the hotel,
she escaped to a friends house and filed for divorce later the same month. Finally free from Ike, Tina embarked on a solo career. She performed at Las Vegas and
appeared on TV in popular shows of the time, the popular Hollywood Squares as well as performing
on The Sonny and Cher Show. In 1977 she headlined a solo tour in Australia and in 1978 she released
the album ‘Rough’, although it was not a great success, and neither was ‘Love Explosion’
released the year after. In 1983, thanks in part to David Bowie’s
help, Tina signed for Capitol Records and released ‘Lets Stay Together’ in the same
year. It was a huge hit, reaching position 26 at the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a
top ten chart hit in several European countries. In June 1984, after a career spanning 25 years,
she finally struck superstardom with the release of her best-known work, ‘Private Dancer’.
It was a massive success Worldwide, reaching Number one and spawning huge hits like the
Worldwide success ‘Private Dancer’ along with the equally celebrated ‘Better Be Good
To Me’. The Album amassed sales of over five million in America alone and over twenty-five
million Worldwide. The best selling album of her career had one
more smash hit for the music world, the phenomenally successful ‘What’s Love Got to Do With
It’. It was Tina’s most successful single and surprisingly, was her only US number one.
The song ranked 38th in Rolling Stone magazines ‘500 greatest songs of all time’.
In 1985, Tina starred alongside Mel Gibson for the film, ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’,
in which she played the role of Aunty Entity. She recorded a pair of songs for the soundtrack,
‘We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)’ and ‘One Of The Living’. They both achieved
some chart success, in large part due to the critical success of the film.
In 1986 she published her autobiography, ‘I, Tina’, in which she revealed to the public
for the first time the years of abuse she had bravely, and silently, suffered throughout
her marriage to Ike. The book became a best seller. Ike was unrepentant, he admitted beating
Tina but was quoted as saying ‘Yeah, I hit her, but I didn’t hit her more than the
average guy beats his wife’. Ike perhaps showed his true self-best of all when, in
a TV interview in 1990, he said ‘I did no more to Tina than I would want somebody to
do to my mother’. In 1986 Tina recorded the album ‘Break Every
Rule’, it was her final big success, eventually selling more than four million copies. After leaving Ike Turner for good, Tina Turner went on to make more amazing music, and she
even won a total of 11 Grammy Awards for her hit songs! Some of the most famous ones include,
“What’s Love Got To Do With It,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “We Don’t Need Another
Hero” and “Foreign Affair.” In 1985, Tina Turner met Edwin Bach, who was
a German music executive. Turner dated Bach for 27 years before tying the knot in a private
ceremony in Zurich. She gave up her American citizenship and applied for a Swiss citizenship
in 2013, after her marriage to Bach. She had been living in a lake house in Zurich
since 1994, and now, after 50 years in the music industry, there is a lot Tina Turner
has achieved. In October this year, she held an event in London called the Tina Turner
Musical, where she told the whole story of her life. The Aldwych Theater in London was
packed with people wanting to know the legend better, and she delivered.
Tina Turner really was one in a million and remains a music icon, even today. With the
world once at her fingertips and music in her soul (and clearly, the soles of her feet),
she will continue to be honored for her lifetime of hard work, determination, and success.