*For the lovely Alice.
I love, love, love Tina Turner and have always admired her strength. I saw the 1993 movie “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and couldn’t believe the things that Ms. Turner endured during her years with Ike Turner. In the book, the things that he did were even more reprehensible.
At the age of 3, Anna Mae Bullock and her sister were left behind by their parents in Nut Bush, Tennesse. Her sister Alline went to live with Mama Georgie, who Anna adored and loved but Anna was sent to live with the dour and strict Mama Roxanna.
Anna first debuted her amazing pipes in church. While she didn’t care for church, choir was the one thing she really loved.
In 1956, Anna Mae moved to St. Louis to live with her mom which was certainly a culture shock coming from the backwoods of Nut Bush, Tennessee. Alline had also come to St. Louis and they would go to clubs, one was where they saw Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm.
While Anna Mae didn’t think much of Ike at the time, when she saw him perform, she was blown away. Anna and Ike were involved with others and during this time Anna became pregnant by The Kings of Rhythm saxophone player, Raymond Hill.
The relationship didn’t last and despite the fact that Ike and Tina saw each other as having more of a brother/sister relationship, they ended up together, starting an extremely tumultuous relationship.
Soon Anna Mae was pregnant with Ike’s baby, her second child. Ike also renamed her Tina Turner and after working their asses off , touring clubs and long days with Ike overworking the crew, the hard work paid off and they got the opportunity to move to Los Angeles.
While their career was on the up and up, the relationship was hanging by a thread. There was so much abuse at the hand of Ike, and Tina felt like she owed it to Ike to stay since she knew what it was like to be abandoned by family.
The abuse from Ike are unspeakable but Tina tried her hardest to keep the band and family together. There were also serious threats made by Ike to keep Tina in line.
Not only was Ike Turner abusive to Tina, he would lash out at friends and coworkers as well. After many years of his abusive behavior, Tina finally had enough and got the courage to leave. During this time, she was exploring Buddhism and she felt that gave her the strength to finally leave.
Even after leaving Ike, he still made his presence known. Tina feared for her life and her childrens’ with the threats he would make to her for leaving him. There was even one instance when Tina was at home and there was a gunshot. The bullet went through her living room window. While they didn’t have proof, she was sure Ike was behind this despicable act.
After Tina’s divorce from Ike, all she was left with was her professional name. She went back to playing clubs and hotels. Then she got her break with music manager Roger Davies and she started touring all over the world.
Things really started to happen to her career when Roger Davies booked the Ritz in NYC to showcase Tina. It was a success! She even got the chance to tour with The Rolling Stones, something she did years prior when she was still with Ike.
Tina has grown from a sassy little girl from Nut Bush, Tennessee to a beloved international superstar.
This is one of the best autobiographies I’ve read. What was surprising to me was that Ike Turner even took part in it with interviews. While this book can be hard to read because of the abuse Ike handed out, it also shows strength, courage, and inspiration from Tina.
*Proud Mary… AMAZING live performance.