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Why the icon finally forgave her ex

Ike and Tina Turner have been hailed as the most famous married musical duo of all time, selling millions of records, breaking racial barriers and winning fans all across the globe.

But behind their history-making performances and their catalog of catchy hits, the superstar couple’s marriage was marred by violence.

Tina, who died Wednesday at the age of 83, secretly endured 16 years of physical abuse at the hands of her husband — prompting a suicide attempt and leaving her with “nightmares” that lasted the rest of her life.

The diva didn’t disclose the domestic abuse until 1981 — five years after she filed for divorce — bravely speaking out at a time when women rarely revealed that they had been victims of violence at the hands of their husbands.

 “I was living a life of death,” Tina told People magazine in a bombshell interview in November of that year. “I didn’t fear him [Ike] killing me when I left, because I was already dead. When I walked out, I didn’t look back.”


Ike and Tina Turner have been hailed as the most famous married musical duo of all time, selling millions of records, breaking racial barriers and winning fans all across the globe. They are pictured together in 1963.
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In her 1986 autobiography, “I, Tina,” the superstar further wrote: “He [Ike] threw hot coffee in my face, giving me third-degree burns. He used my nose as a punching bag so many times that I could taste blood running down my throat when I sang. He broke my jaw. And I couldn’t remember what it was like not to have a black eye.”

More than three decades later, in the 2021 documentary, “Tina,” the Grammy-winning legend remained just as blunt about her years with Ike.

“I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story,” she declared.”It’s a reality. It’s a truth. That’s what you’ve got, so you have to accept it.”

Below is the harrowing story of Tina’s turbulent relationship with Ike — and why she finally decided to forgive him decades after their divorce.

Tina — born Anna Mae Bullock — first laid eyes on Ike in 1957 as he performed at a nightclub in St. Louis, Missouri.

The songstress recalled that she “almost went into a trance” when she saw him play, and she soon became a featured vocalist with Ike’s band.

The duo developed a friendship, bonding over music before they recorded their first song together in 1960.


Tina, who died Wednesday at the age of 83, secretly endured 16 years of physical abuse at the hands of her husband — prompting a suicide attempt and leaving her with "nightmares" that lasted the rest of her life.  Tina and Ike are seen in 1965.
Tina, who died Wednesday at the age of 83, secretly endured 16 years of physical abuse at the hands of her husband — prompting a suicide attempt and leaving her with “nightmares” that lasted the rest of her life. Tina and Ike are seen in 1965.
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For the track, titled “A Fool In Love,” Ike gave Bullock the stage name “Tina Turner,” purportedly giving her the moniker so that another singer could perform under the name if she decided to stop working with him.

It was the first instance of the control that Ike exhibited in their partnership.

That same year, the pair’s friendship turned romantic, and Tina quickly became pregnant.

According to Tina’s autobiography, she soon told Ike that she did not want to continue their relationship — and he reportedly responded by “striking her in the head with a wooden shoe stretcher.”

Tina — whose own mother had been violently abused by her father — recalled that the incident “instilled fear” in her, so she decided to stay with Ike.

Their only child together, a son named Ronnie, was born several months later.


Ike and Tina were friends for three years, before they embarked on a romantic relationship that quickly became abusive.
Ike and Tina were friends for three years before they embarked on a romantic relationship that quickly became abusive.
Redferns

“I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story," Tina said in 2019." It’s a reality. It’s a truth. That’s what you’ve got, so you have to accept it." She is seen with Ike in 1970.
“I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story,” Tina said in 2019.” It’s a reality. It’s a truth. That’s what you’ve got, so you have to accept it.” She is seen with Ike in 1970.
Redferns

Ike and Tina’s first album was released in 1961, with the pair breaking barriers by performing for racially integrated audiences in the South.

The couple tied the knot the following year, but Ike’s violent outbursts and emotional manipulation continued, Tina later claimed.

In her memoir, she alleged that Ike took her to a brothel in Tijuana, Mexico, on the night of their wedding.

She further claimed that Ike frequently cheated on her and abused cocaine.

“Sex with Ike had become an expression of hostility — a kind of rape — especially when it began or ended with a beating. What had been ugly and hateful between us before became worse with every snort of cocaine,” Tina wrote.

Despite the violent outbursts, the couple continued to tour and record together, releasing 21 studio albums and winning a Grammy Award.

The pair’s hits included “Proud Mary and “River Deep – Mountain High.”


Tina and Ike are seen in an undated image. The music diva attempted suicide in 1968 after dealing with years of abuse at the hands of her husband.
Tina and Ike are seen in an undated image. The music diva attempted suicide in 1968 after dealing with years of abuse at the hands of her husband.
Redferns

In her second autobiography, “My Love Story,” released in 2018, Tina wrote that she tried to end her life in 1968 by taking 50 sleeping pills prior to a show.

“I was unhappy when I woke up,” she stated. “But I came out of the darkness believing I was meant to survive.”

While on tour in Dallas in 1976, Tina finally mustered up the courage to leave Ike, despite the fact he had “micromanaged” her career and she was financially dependent on him.

“Ike was feeling a little irritable that day and hit me with the back of his hand,” she told People magazine about the day she decided to leave her husband. “He beat me the entire way from the airport to the hotel … By the time we got to the hotel, the left side of my face was swollen like a monster’s.”

After Ike fell asleep that night, Tina fled with just “36 cents in her pocket and a Mobil credit card” in her wallet.

“I felt proud,” Tina told People. “I felt strong. I felt like Martin Luther King.”

The pair’s divorce was finalized in 1978.

In a 1990 interview with People, Ike admitted to abusing Tina.

“All the fights Tina and I had were about her being sad about something,” he recalled. “I get real emotional if you’re worrying and don’t tell me what it is. Then I can’t about nothing else. So I’d slap her or something like that.”

In his 1999 memoir, “Takin’ Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner,” Turner wrote: “Sure, I’ve slapped Tina. We had fights and there have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I never beat her.”

Prior to his death in 2007, Ike revealed that he had written Tina an apology letter, but had never sent it.

The pair did not speak for decades prior to Ike’s passing, and Tina did not attend his funeral.


“It was letting go, because it only hurts you. By not forgiving, you suffer, because you think about it over and over. And for what?” Tina, pictured with Ike in an undated photo, revealed that she had forgiven her ex-husband.
“It was letting go because it only hurts you. By not forgiving, you suffer, because you think about it over and over. And for what?” Tina, pictured with Ike in an undated photo, revealed that she had forgiven her ex-husband.
Redferns

However, Tina declared in the 2021 documentary that she had found it in herself to forgive her ex-husband.

“It hurts to have to remember those times, but at a certain stage forgiveness takes over — forgiving means not having to hold on,” she stated.

“It was letting go because it only hurts you. By not forgiving, you suffer, because you think about it over and over. And for what?”