- Tina Turner was a world-famous singer.
- She was married to Ike Turner from 1962-1978
- The union was famously volatile.
- Tina passed away on May 24, 2023 following Ike’s 2007 death.
“Queen of Rock and Roll” Tina Turner and her first husband Ike Turner aren’t exactly remembered for having a happy marriage. But the rock stars were famously married for quite some time, and together they welcomed one child, a son. They parted ways decades ago, putting an end to the volatility, with both speaking out about the relationship in subsequent years and a movie popularizing the topic. Both went on to re-marry.
In December of 2007, Ike passed away at age 76, with an autopsy later determining he died of a cocaine overdose. Hypertensive cardiovascular disease and pulmonary emphysema were listed as contributing factors. Tina lived another 16 years before dying on May 24, 2023, at age 83. Each of them is known for extraordinary careers in the music industry, and each have left a creative legacy that includes the years of their marriage.
“I still love Tina as much as I ever loved her…I wrote her a letter five years ago,” Ike once wrote. “I never sent it…I was telling her in this letter that I’m sorry for putting her and the kids through that kind of stuff. I was stupid. I was inconsiderate about her feelings. I understand today. She came from an abusive relationship and went straight to the top.”
Here’s everything to know about Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship.
How Long Were Ike & Tina Turner Married?
According to Biography, Tina met Ike at an East St. Louis nightclub called Club Manhattan in 1957 when she was still a teen. She reportedly performed Ike’s version of B.B. King’s iconic “You Know I Love You,” and they instantly became friends. Their growing entanglement, however, was anything but simple. Ike was still in a relationship and lived with Lorraine Taylor when he began his affair with Tina. Furthermore, Tina had become pregnant during her senior year of high school with drummer Eugene Washington from Ike’s band Kings of Rhythm.
The duo went on to form the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, producing hit after R&B hit together. The addition of iconic backup singers/dancer The Ikettes only added to their popularity. They moved to Los Angeles and reportedly married in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1962 — though Ike later refuted the marriage as legal, stating that it was a common law marriage.
In any case, the marriage continued through 1976, when the legendary singer finally filed for divorce after a violent incident, citing “irreconcilable differences.” The divorce was finalized in March of 1978.
How Many Kids Did Ike and Tina Turner Have?
Tina had already given birth to her first child, Craig Washington, by the time her marriage with Ike had begun. Ike and Tina welcomed one son, together, Ronnie Turner, in October of 1960, and Tina later adopted Ike’s two children from a previous marriage.
Sadly, Ronnie died on December 8, 2022, at age 62 from complications due to colon cancer. Tina deeply mourned his passing and shared her feelings in a social media post days later. “Ronnie, you left the world far too early,” she wrote at the time. “In sorrow, I close my eyes and think of you, my beloved son.”
Ike’s Abuse & The End Of Their Relationship
The violent history of Tina and Ike has been well documented. According to a written account in I, Tina: My Life Story, Tina first told Ike she didn’t want to continue a relationship with him after recording “Fool In Love” — he reacted by bashing her in the head with a wooden shoe stretcher. She recalled that it was the incident that first “instilled fear” in her. Still, she claimed she “really did care” about him, and the destructive relationship continued and escalated until she had a suicide attempt in 1968 by overdosing on Valium.
Tina claimed that Ike’s rampant abuse and promiscuity led her to feelings of hopelessness. “It was my relationship with Ike that made me most unhappy,” she shared in I, Tina. “At first, I had really been in love with him. Look what he’d done for me. But he was totally unpredictable.” In her 2018 memoir My Love Story, she also revealed that intimacy with Ike was “an expression of hostility—a kind of rape—especially when it began or ended with a beating.”
She went on with graphically detailed descriptions of the alleged abuse. “What had been ugly and hateful between us before became worse with every snort of cocaine,” she wrote. “He 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.”
On July 1, 1976, things came to a head with the couple got into a massive fight at the Dallas Statler Hilton. Her fortunes would change, as she left the situation with under a dollar in her pocket and a credit card, where she stayed in another hotel. “In the divorce, I got nothing,” the rock legend said in her 2021 HBO documentary Tina. “No money, no house. So I said, ‘I’ll just take my name.’”
As history can attest, she went on to make an unforgettable career with just that. Tina filed for divorce weeks after the final incident, and the divorce was finalized in 1978.
The Ike and Tina Turner Movie
In 1993, Angela Bassett immortalized Tina’s tortured relationship on the big screen in What’s Love Got To Do With It. Angela played opposite Laurence Fishburne as Ike, and the film struck a chord. It opened in theaters on June 6, 1993, at the height of Tina’s fame, and it was met with wide critical acclaim.
It was also a defining moment in Angela’s equally remarkable career. “How do we say farewell to a woman who owned her pain and trauma and used it as a means to help change the world?” she said in a statement to Deadline after Tina’s death. “Through her courage in telling her story, her commitment to stay the course in her life, no matter the sacrifice, and her determination to carve out a space in rock and roll for herself and for others who look like her, Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion, and freedom should look like.”
Did Tina Turner Ever Forgive Ike For Abuse?
While Ike admitted to still loving Tina, she seemed to be more interested in telling her story than forgiving him. “I wanted to stop people from thinking that Ike & Tina was so positive, that we were such a great team,” she told documentary filmmakers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin in 2021, per Vanity Fair. “So I thought, if nothing else, at least people know.”
Furthermore, she addressed the question of forgiveness head-on with blunt comments to The New York Times in 2019. “I don’t know if I could ever forgive all that Ike ever did to me,” she said. “Ike’s dead. So we don’t have to worry about him.”
However, that’s not all that she’s said on the topic. A year earlier, in 2018, she expressed a different sentiment — with a caveat. “As an old person, I have forgiven him, but it would not work with him,” she told UK publication The Times. “He asked for one more tour with me, and I said, ‘No, absolutely not.’ Ike wasn’t someone you could forgive and allow him back in. It’s all gone, all forgotten. I don’t know what the dreams are about. The dreams are still there — not the violence, the anger. I wonder if I’m still holding something in.”
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