10 revelations about Tina Turner's life from her 2021 documentary

10 revelations about Tina Turner's life from her 2021 documentary
  • Tina Turner died at the age of 83 on Wednesday after a "long illness," her family said.

  • The legendary singer rose to fame in the 1960s and is regarded as the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll.

  • Here are the biggest revelations from "Tina," the 2021 HBO Documentary about her turbulent life.

Tina Turner said her first husband Ike Turner "tortured" her during their relationship.

Husband-and-wife R&B duo Ike & Tina Turner pose for a portrait in circa 1960.
Ike and Tina Turner met In 1957.Getty/Michael Ochs Archives

While Tina Turner has spoken about her abusive marriage with Ike Turner before, we got to hear her own words describe the situation in HBO's 2021 documentary "Tina."

In fact, the recording of Tina's interview with People in 1981 about her life and abuse is played throughout the documentary.

Tina and Ike began working together after meeting in 1957 and married in 1962. During the relationship, Ike had control of all her music and physically and verbally abused her. Tina has spoken out about domestic violence on numerous occasions after her 1978 divorce.

"My ex-husband was a physically violent man. I went through basic torture," Tina said in People's recording used in the documentary. "I was living a life of death. I didn't exist."

Tina said that Ike was insecure about the singer leaving him when she became a star, so he tried to control her. Tina said that Ike would then physically harm her and have sex with her afterward.

"He beat me with a shoe stretcher," Tina said. "And after that he made me go to bed and he had sex with me and I was all swollen and that was the beginning of the torture."

Tina said that she felt loyal to Ike, which is why she stayed for so long.

Later in the documentary, Tina said that she hated Ike "for a long time," but the "What's Love Got To Do With It?" singer said she realized her ex-husband was "a sick person" after he died in 2007.

Tina Turner's name was inspired by a TV character.

Tanya Roberts as the titular character in the 1984 adaptation of "Sheena."
Tanya Roberts as the titular character in the 1984 adaptation of "Sheena."Columbia Pictures

Tina's birth name was Anna Mae Bullock and she used that name until she met Ike in 1956.

After they recorded their first hit record "A Fool In Love," Ike gave Bullock the name "Tina Turner" so that they could be paired together as Ike and Tina Turner.

In the documentary, Tina said that Ike was inspired by his obsession with "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle," a '50s TV show based on the comic of the same name about an orphan who grew up in an African jungle.

During their divorce in 1978, the legendary singer specifically asked if she could keep the name. According to Tina, Ike fought to keep the name, but she won the right in court.

Phil Spector paid Ike to stop him from interfering with the recording of "River Deep Mountain High."

Tina Turner holding a microphone and singing
This was one of the first times Ike was not involved with one of Tina Turner's records.Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferbs/Getty

Ike produced many of Tina's early songs while they were in a partnership.

However, in 1996, Phil Spector, who music journalist Kurt Loder described as "the greatest pop producer of that period" in the documentary, wanted to work with Tina by herself when they were recording their hit song "River Deep Mountain High."

Rhonda Graam, Tina's tour manager at the time, said in the documentary that Spector actually paid Ike to stay away from the recording studio when they were making the song.

"Spector didn't want Ike nowhere near the studio," Graam said. "So he paid Ike X amount of dollars to get him taken care of, so to speak, so that he wouldn't interfere with Tina. And that was the first time they gave Tina her chance to sing differently."

According to Rolling Stone, Spector paid $20,000 up front to produce Tina.

"I was excited about singing a different type of song," Tina said in the documentary. "I was excited about getting out of the studio on my own. It was a freedom to do something different."

While the song has since become popular, at the time it wasn't successful in the US.



Tina grew up in a turbulent home.

Tina Turner.
Tina Turner was born in Tennessee.Getty/Richard Nairin/Michael Ochs Archives

The documentary also delves into Tina's childhood. The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll was born in Tennessee in 1939 to Floyd and Zelma Bullock and initially lived in the small town of Nutbush.

Tina said that her parents fought "from the very beginning," but her mother "always fought back."

One day, Tina recalled, her mother left the house. After her father found out, he "panicked" and also left. As a result, Tina and her older siblings had to become independent and fend for themselves.

"That's when I found out how much I loved her, because I also began to hate her then," Tina said of her mother. "That's when you learn the difference between love and hate, because I felt that she left, which is fine, but I wanted her to come for us and I waited. She never did."

Tina tried to end her life using sleeping pills.

American music duo Ike Turner (1931-2007) and Tina Turner of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue perform on stage during recording of the Associated Rediffusion Television pop music television show Ready Steady Go! at Wembley Television Studios in London on 30th September 1966.
Ike & Tina Turner perform in 1966.Getty/Ivan Keeman

The documentary recounts the unraveling of Tina and Ike's relationship as they tried to create a hit record. Tina said that Ike began taking drugs and physically abusing her more frequently. He also would become angry more quickly.

In the doc, Tina described a time when she got a prescription for sleeping pills from her doctor and almost died after swallowing the whole bottle.

"I felt [like], this is it, no more," Tina said. "I did not make it to the stage. I remember being in the car and him sticking his fingers down my throat, trying to make me throw up, and finally I went unconscious."

"I was insanely afraid of that man," she said of Ike.

The documentary then aired an interview Ike did in 2000, in which he gave his point of view on Tina's attempted suicides.

"At first, Tina attempted suicide two or three times, I think that this was some form of attention," Ike said. "She was unhappy about the things that I was doing. Me being a womanizer, being with all these women. And I think that the real truth is she was trying to be something that she wasn't."

He added: "She was trying to be what she thought I wanted, not what she really was. She was trying to please me and so therefore she was going through a lot of hurt. And I think she had a very unhappy life because of that."

Tina's discovery of Buddhism helped her decide to leave Ike.

Ike and Tina Turner performing with the Ike And Tina Turner Revue on the American TV music show, 'Don Kirshner's Rock Concert', recorded in Los Angeles, California and aired on 12th March 1976.
Ike and Tina Turner performing with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue on the American TV music show, 'Don Kirshner's Rock Concert' in March 1976.Getty/Michael Ochs Archives

In the doc, the "Proud Mary" singer describes her decision to divorce Ike — and an interest in spirituality helped her make the choice.

Valerie Bishop, whom Tina met through Ike, introduced her to Buddhism. "Buddhism was a way out, and it changed your attitudes towards the situation that you're in," she said in the documentary. "The more you chant, the more you become liberated mentally."

After learning about Buddhism, Tina said she realized she had to make a change. She began to fight back and hit Ike. Then, on July 3, 1976, when the pair were in a hotel in Dallas, Texas, Tina packed her bag and left while Ike was asleep.

Tina went to another hotel and almost got hit by a truck on the highway. Then she went into hiding in Los Angeles and prepared to file for divorce.

After the divorce, Tina had to foot the bill for all her canceled concerts.

Tina Turner during Tina Turner Autographs Her New Book "I, Tina" - August 26, 1986 at UCLA in Los Angeles, California, United States.
Tina Turner showcases her new book "I, Tina" at UCLA in Los Angeles, California, in 1986.Getty/Ron Galella

Since Tina and Ike were on tour as a duo, they were forced to cancel their shows once they divorced. Soon, mounting lawsuits over the canceled concerts, coupled with the fact that Tina was never given the money that she had made during her marriage to Ike, put Tina into debt.

She had to perform in any venue she could get in order to make back the money to pay the bills and support her children.

Graam said that she started to book her gigs on TV shows in order to make more money. However, the singer was always asked about Ike, since their relationship was so public.

Tina originally hated "What's Love Got To Do With It?" and was persuaded to sing the track by her manager.

Tina Turner performing in Los Angeles on September 2, 1984.
Singer Tina Turner performs her current hit song "What's Love Got to Do With It" during the Los Angeles, Calif., stop of her nation-wide tour, September 2, 1984.Phil Ramey/AP

While Tina's 1984 track "What's Love Got To Do With It?" is one of her greatest hits, the rock singer said in the documentary that she initially hated the track.

"I was rock and roll. I was not ... that was a pop song," she said.

Her manager Roger Davies was convinced that the song could be a "big song," so Tina eventually agreed to meet the producer, Terry Britten, and they reworked the track.

According to Britten, Turner even told him she didn't like the song to his face and said she only showed up because of Davies.

Tina said that she doesn't think her mother Zelma liked her.

Tina Turner and her mother Zelma in the 1990s.
Tina Turner (R) and her mother Zelma (L) in the 1990s.Dave Hogan / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

In the documentary, Tina described her relationship with her mother Zelma, whom she reconnected with after she left her as a child.

"Ma was not kind," Tina said. "When I became a star, of course then she was happy because I bought her a house. I did all kinds of things for her. She was my mother. I was trying to make her comfortable because she didn't have a husband. She was alone, but she still didn't like me."

She added: "Even after I became Tina, Ma still was a little bit, 'Who did that?' and 'Who did this?' and I said, 'I did it, Ma.' I was happy to show my mother what I did. I had a house. I had gotten the car and she said, 'I don't believe it. You're my daughter. I know you didn't...' something to this effect. She didn't want me. She didn't want to be around me even though she wanted my success."

Tina met her second husband at an airport.

Turner and husband Erwin Bach in Paris in July 2018
Turner and husband Erwin Bach in Paris in July 2018Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

In 2013, Tina married Swiss producer Erwin Bach, 67, after being together for 27 years.

In the documentary, Bach recalls how they met at Dusseldorf airport and began a relationship.

"Her manager Roger asked me to pick up Tina," Bach said. "I enjoyed the ride. I enjoyed driving the artist. Actually a superstar for us, where you're normally a little nervous but I wasn't nervous either. I was just doing the job."

Tina said that Erwin had the "prettiest face" and her heart started racing. Tina said that when Bach found out she liked him, he came to America and she made a move on him.

"He was just so so different," she said. "So laid back. So comfortable. So unpretentious. And that was the beginning of our relationship."

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