Tina Turner's abusive marriage to Ike Turner and how she broke free – in her own words

Tina Turner’s abusive marriage to Ike Turner and how she broke free – in her own words

Tina Turner’s death has left the world in mourning. The singer was a powerhouse of vocals, and her personality also always shone through. But earlier in her life, she was stuck in an abusive marriage.

Keep reading to learn more about Tina’s first marriage to Ike Turner in her own words.

Tina Turner’s first marriage was not a bed of roses. The singer endured years of emotional and physical abuse from her first husband Ike Turner. It took the global superstar years to gather the courage to leave the union.

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In 1986 she released her autobiography titled, I Tina. “It was my relationship with Ike that made me most unhappy. At first, I had really been in love with him,” Turner wrote in the book. “Look what he’d done for me. But he was totally unpredictable,” she wrote.

Turner had met Ike when she was just 16 years old. At the time she was Anna Mae Bullock from Nutbush, Tennessee. Ike happened to be a prominent bandleader. When he heard Turner sing, much like anyone else, he was taken aback by her powerful vocals. He then offered her a chance to become part of his band and gave her the name, “Little Ann.”

The singer revealed in her autobiography that in the initial years of her involvement in the band, there was nothing romantic between the two of them, and in fact, she considered him like a brother.

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But the two began seeing one another in 1960 while Ike was still with his girlfriend Lorraine Taylor. Tina became pregnant with their child, and when Ike proposed, the singer later revealed she felt she had no choice but to accept.

“I knew that I didn’t want to marry him, didn’t want to be a part of his life, didn’t want to be another of the 500 women he had around him by then,” Turner wrote in her book. “But I was … well, I was scared. And by now, this was my life — where else could I go?”

She revealed in her book that she had tried to leave her marriage many times before she finally did.


In an interview she gave to The Times, she revealed that she had suffered domestic violence for years at the hands of Ike. “There was violence because he had this fear that I was going to leave him. The other women, because I didn’t love him that way… The other women weren’t so bad, but it was the constant, constant ill-treatment,” the singer said.

The singer saw no way out and even contemplated suicide. She shared, “I knew I should leave, but I had no money and didn’t know how to take the first step.” Adding, “At my lowest, I convinced myself that death was my only way out.”

Finally, after years of trying to leave, in 1978, she was successful. Her divorce was finalized, and she could finally close the chapter of an abusive marriage from her life.

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After she left him, she became more vocal about the abuse she had endured in the marriage. In a 1981 interview, she said, “I was living a life of death. I didn’t exist. I didn’t fear him killing me when I left, because I was already dead. When I walked out, I didn’t look back.”

She said during the success of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, she felt like “just a shadow.” The singer shared how “Ike took care of everything — the sound, the band, hiring people, management and money” while she was assigned tasks like cooking breakfast for the band at 4 a.m.

Later in their marriage, the singer found Buddhism, which gave her strength. But Ike’s abuse only further intensified at her practice. She shared, “When Ike saw me chanting. The veins in his face popped out. He didn’t want to hear about anything that would give me power.”

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She shared how Ike could be “very loving,” but that it always came with conditions. “He helped a lot of people in trouble. But you owed him your life. He didn’t give freely,” Tina shared.

She and Ike married in 1962 and divorced 16 years later. Ike passed away in 2007 after a cocaine overdose. And Tina married her second husband Erwin Bach in 2013 after the couple had already been together for 23 years.

The singer left Ike on July 1, 1976, while the two of them were on tour. They were staying at the Statler Hilton in Dallas. She shared how beaten her “the entire way from the airport to the hotel.” The singer recounted the horrible time saying, “By the time we got to the hotel, the left side of my face was swollen like a monster’s.”

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She recalled how when they got to the hotel she played nice. She said, “I massaged him and cooed, ‘Can I order you any food, dear?’ Then he made the mistake of going to sleep.” She only had 36 cents in her pocket and a Mobil credit card in her wallet, but the singer sprinted across the freeway in the middle of the night to find another hotel.

She recalled the moment years later on a talk show, saying, “I didn’t measure the speed of a car. I was running across the freeway and this big truck was coming and it [beeped its horn]. It felt like it was over me and I thought, ‘Well, I won’t try that again.’ 

Despite it being incredibly risky, the singer said she had no choice but to leave. She shared, “It was just time to not take any more. It was constantly abusive, other things going on, there was no control, there was no freedom, it was just the same this, same this and the violence. You just get fed up and you say, ‘Life is not worth living if I’m going to stay in this situation.’ “

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Then a friend bought her a plane ticket to Los Angeles to help Tina get out of Ike’s life for good. She shared, “I felt proud,” adding, “I felt strong.”

Tina Turner died on Wednesday peacefully in her sleep. At the time of her death, the 83-year-old singer was at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich in Switzerland. She passed away after a long illness.

 Bach, and her sons Ike Turner Jr. and Michael Turner. Her sons Ronnie Turner and Craig Raymond Turner passed away before she did.


Tina Turner’s story is one of strength of character and determination. She will be dearly missed for her powerful vocals and personality. Share this with other fans of the singer so they can know what she overcame in life!