Inside the tragic life of music icon Tina Turner as she dies at 83
A heart can be broken… again and again: As Tina Turner dies at 83, FEMAIL lifts the lid on her many personal tragedies – revealing how music icon endured stroke that left her unable to walk, an abusive marriage to Ike, and the deaths of TWO sons
- Tina’s publicist confirmed she had passed away Wednesday after a long illness
- She faced many hardships – including an abusive marriage and numerous losses
- FEMAIL recapped all the devastating blows that she endured during her life
To many music lovers the world over, Tina Turner was ‘simply the best’ – but behind the glossy allure of her history-making career, the singer was forced to endure what can only be described as the very worst personal tragedies.
It was revealed today that the singer has died at the age of 83, with her publicist confirming that Tina passed away peacefully at her Switzerland home – marking the end of what had been an incredible career… and a life filled with unimaginable heartache.
Tina, who grew up in Tennessee, rose to fame as part of the wildly popular Ike and Tina Turner duo in the ’70s, before launching a solo career that saw her cement her status as one of the most successful female performers in history. But while her career flourished, her personal life suffered a slew of blows.
Tina’s hardships began when she was just a child. She was abandoned by her mother – who she said ‘never loved her’ – at age 10, followed by her father a few years after that.
Tina Tuner (seen in 1990) has died peacefully in her home at age 83 following a long illness, her publicist confirmed on Wednesday
FEMAIL has revealed the many devastating blows that Tina (seen in 2008) had to face during her life – including health woes, an abusive marriage, and a series of heart-wrenching losses
Then, at just 22 years old – soon after she was propelled into the spotlight – the What’s Love Got To Do With It songstress married the other half of her group, Ike Turner.
And while it may have seemed like a picture-perfect romance at first, it was later brought to light that Tina and Ike’s marriage was filled with manipulation tactics, ploys to gain control over her, and gruesome beatings, which resulted in her suffering from numerous broken bones and even third-degree burns on one occasion – when he poured burning hot coffee on her face.
After ultimately leaving Ike in 1976, Tina was left broke and homeless – later revealing that she had less than a dollar to her name following the split.
Despite facing years of abuse and a devastating split that resulted in her losing pretty much all the profit she had made while in the group, Tina didn’t give up on her dreams – and it was her impressive determination and perseverance that helped turn her into one of the biggest musicians in the world.
But the misfortune didn’t end there. Tina, who retired from singing in 2009, faced more heartbreak in 2018 when her son, Craig, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She then lost a second child in late 2022, when her son Ronnie passed away at age 62 due to complications of colon cancer.
She also struggled with numerous health issues of her own over the years – including a stroke that forced her to re-learn how to walk in 2013 and a battle with cancer in 2016 that left her fighting for her life.
As the world grapples with the news of Tina’s passing, FEMAIL has taken a look into the many devastating blows that she had to face throughout her life – and how she miraculously overcame them all.
A look back at Tina’s difficult childhood: The singer was abandoned by her mother at age 10, followed by her father three years after that
Tina’s hardships began when she was just a child. She was abandoned by her mother – who she said ‘never loved her’ – at age 10, followed by her father a few years after that
Tina was born as Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee, and she faced hardship starting at a young age.
From her birth, Tina told Rolling Stone in a 1986 interview that her mother ‘didn’t want her’ because she was ‘in the process of leaving her father’ when she got pregnant.
‘She didn’t love me. And I knew the difference, because I used to watch her with my sister, Alline – how she was with her and then how she was with me. She loved Alline,’ she admitted.
‘But, strangely enough, I wasn’t sad about it. It was just a fact that my parents didn’t care that much for me.’
The singer explained that her parents also ‘didn’t love each other, so they were always fighting.’
She spent the early years of her life working on a cotton field with her parents, but at the age of 10, her mother moved away to St. Louis, leaving her and her siblings behind.
Three years later, her father also abandoned them, forcing her to go and live with her very strict paternal grandparents.
‘Daddy and I weren’t that close, so that was fine. I didn’t mind. I was a little bit afraid of him. He wasn’t friendly. He was friendly with everybody else but not with me,’ she explained.
‘My parents weren’t mine, and I wasn’t theirs, really, so when they left, it was as if they had always been gone as far as I was concerned.
‘If you ask my sister, Alline, you might get different answers because she might have been affected by it differently.’
Tina eventually moved to St. Louis to live with her estranged mother – at the age of 16 – after her grandma became ill.
Soon after she relocated, she began pursuing a career in music, but according to the star, her mom did not support her dreams because she was ‘jealous.’
‘She never believed in me. She never wanted this child and when this child grew up to be successful and creative, she didn’t accept it because it was something she didn’t want,’ she later told Oprah Winfrey during an appearance on her show.
‘Why would she want it? Maybe jealousy. Is there such a thing as a mother’s jealousy? I don’t know. Obviously that must’ve been the case because it never went away.’
Throughout her childhood, Tina also struggled with racism – with the singer telling Rolling Stone that she was often ‘looked down upon because she’s black.’
‘It hurts to be a minority,’ she said. ‘I am looked down upon because I’m black. It’s forever. It’s like a curse on you. We’re moving out of it, of course. We can stand now, but it’s still there.
‘It’s a memory, because you are branded. It’s wishing that we, as a black people, had had a chance to be as fantastic as we were before being knocked down and made slaves.
‘It goes way back, this thing of wanting to be proud, wanting not to feel second-class.’
Inside her tumultuous relationship with Ike: Tina’s marriage was plagued by abuse, beatings, and manipulation
Tina married fellow musician Ike Turner in 1962 – but their relationship was plagued by years of abuse, beatings, and manipulation. They are seen together in 1973
In 1957, Tina met her future husband, Ike, who was playing in a band called Kings of Rhythm at a nightclub where her sister worked.
One night, while Tina was watching him perform, she grabbed the microphone and started to join in, and her stunning voice quickly caught Ike’s attention.
She soon joined his band and the two eventually entered into a romantic relationship – tying the knot in 1962. when she was 22.
Tina later revealed that Ike forced her to visit a brothel on their wedding night, something she said was so ‘disturbing,’ she tried to ‘suppress’ the memory of it.
‘The experience was so disturbing that I suppressed it, scratched it out, and created a different scenario, a fantasy of romantic elopement,’ she told DailyMail.com.
During their marriage, Tina said Ike was severely abusive towards her. On one occasion, she wrote in her 2018 memoir, My Love Story, he poured hot coffee onto her face, leaving her with third degree burns, and on another, she claimed that he hit her across the head with a wooden shoe stretcher when she tried to leave him.
He was also the one that convinced her to change her name from Anna Mae Bullock to Tina Turner, which she told Oprah was a ploy for him to have more control over her.
Over the course of their relationship, she said she suffered from a broken nose, broken jaw, and multiple black eyes. They are pictured in 1967
On one occasion, she said he poured hot coffee onto her face, leaving her with third degree burns. She eventually filed for divorce from the musician in 1976. They are seen in 1961
Over the course of their relationship, she alleged that she suffered from a broken nose, broken jaw, and multiple black eyes.
She also wrote in her autobiography that he often would do cocaine and then have rough sex with her, which she said felt more like rape.
It got so bad that Tina attempted suicide at one point. She wrote in her memoir that she told her doctor she was having trouble sleeping so that he would prescribe her pills – she then took all 50 at once, with the intent of ending her life.
‘At my lowest, I convinced myself that death was my only way out. I actually tried to kill myself,’ she wrote. ‘But I came out of the darkness believing I was meant to survive.’
Together, Tina and Ike welcomed one son together named Ronnie. She also adopted Ike’s two sons from his previous marriage, Ike Jr. and Michael. In addition, Tina had another child, a son named Raymond Craig, from her past romance with Raymond Hill. The family is pictured in 1972
Together, Tina and Ike welcomed one son together, named Ronnie.
She also adopted Ike’s two sons from his previous marriage, Ike Jr. and Michael. In addition, Tina had another child, a son named Raymond Craig, from her past romance with Raymond Hill.
She eventually filed for divorce from the musician in 1976, and she said she was left with nothing more than 36 cents to her name after the split.
For years, she lived off food stamps and the money she made from performing small gigs here and there – and to make matters worse, she said Ike didn’t let her go easily.
She wrote in her book that he would send his ‘stooges’ to intimidate her – and at one point they even shot bullets into the place she was staying, resulting in her getting so frightened that she would sleep in her closet.
She later said it ultimately made her stronger, stating to Oprah, ‘I am strong. I lived through a divorce, separation from my family. I never let it break me down.
‘I’m not an alcoholic. I’ve never smoked, I’ve never done drugs. I’ve floated through the disaster of my past clean. I arrived here undamaged.’
Years later, Ike admitted to the abuse in an interview with Spin magazine, stating, ‘It’s years ago that I had a temper. I don’t regret nothing I’ve ever done, absolutely nothing. Yeah, I hit her, but I didn’t hit her more than the average guy beats his wife.’
Ike died on December 12, 2007, from a cocaine overdose.
Tina’s continued heartbreak: The retired songstress lost one son to suicide in 2018 and another to cancer in 2022
Tina faced tragedy once again in 2018 when her son Craig (seen) died by suicide
She also told CBS ‘ Gayle King in 2019, ‘I think Craig was lonely, that’s what I think really got him more than anything else.’ She is pictured with Craig
Despite having to practically start over, Tina did not give up, and she continued to make music and perform at any opportunity she could.
Eventually, in 1983, after struggling to breakout for years, she was signed to Capitol Records.
She released a cover of AI Green’s Let’s Stay Together that same year, which peaked at number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Her album, Private Dancer, then came out in May 1984, which quickly propelled her into superstardom, and the rest was history.
Along the way, Tina also found love when she met German music executive Erwin Bach in 1986. After 27 years together, the two tied the knot in July 2013.
However, Tina faced tragedy once again in 2018 when her son, Craig, died by suicide.
The heartbroken mother later told BBC that she was completely shocked by his passing since he was doing well both professionally and personally at the time of his death.
Tina then lost her son Ronnie in December 2022. He passed away at age 62 due to complications of colon cancer
‘I still don’t know what took him to the edge,’ she said. ‘Because at that stage he had said to me that he had never met a woman that he felt that way about.
Tina married German music executive Erwin Bach in July 2013. They are pictured in 2015
‘He was bringing her to meet me [for] his birthday in August. He had decorated his apartment, that I bought him years ago.
‘He had gotten a new job with a prominent real estate company in California, [which] he was very happy with.
‘I have no idea what pulled him down, except something that followed him with loneliness. I think it was something with being alone.
‘But when I think that, why didn’t he call the new girlfriend that gave him the lift? He was an introverted person, he was very shy, so I didn’t know either, except now when I listen back to our last conversations, I notice a change.
‘The last few times we talked, the conversations were different, and I didn’t know that until after the suicide.’
She also told CBS’ Gayle King in 2019, ‘I think Craig was lonely, that’s what I think really got him more than anything else.’
Tina lost another son in December 2022. At the time TMZ reported that Ronnie was found unresponsive by neighbors and that their efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
His cause of death was later revealed as ‘complications of metastatic colon carcinoma.’ A report said he only found out he had cancer three weeks before his death, and that it was already at stage four when it was discovered.
A recap of Tina’s many health battles: Musician was forced to re-learn how to walk after suffering from a stroke in 2013, and almost died from cancer three years later
Over the years, Tina was plagued with numerous health issues. She suffered from a stroke in 2013, which lead to her having to re-learn how to walk. She is seen in June 2013
Her physical woes did not end there. Then, in 2016, she received the devastating news that she had intestinal cancer. She is pictured in 2016
Over the years, Tina was plagued with numerous health issues. She suffered from a stroke in 2013, which lead to her having to re-learn how to walk.
And her physical woes did not end there. Then, in 2016, she received the devastating news that she had intestinal cancer.
The disease caused her to go into kidney failure, and if her husband, Erwin, hadn’t stepped in and donated his kidney to the singer, she would have likely died. She is seen with Erwin in 2005
The disease caused her to go into kidney failure, and if her husband, Erwin, hadn’t stepped in and donated his kidney to the singer, she said she would have likely died.
‘It was a matter of life and death,’ she told People.
While the transplant was a success, she revealed that she still suffers from long-term ailments from the surgery, including, ‘dizziness, forgetfulness, anxiety, and the occasional bout of insane diarrhea.’
‘I lived through a hellish marriage that almost destroyed me, but I went on. I know that my medical adventure is far from over. But I’m still here — we’re still here, closer than we ever imagined,’ she gushed in a 2018 interview.
‘I can look back and understand why my karma was the way it was. Good came out of bad. Joy came out of pain. And I have never been so completely happy as I am today.’
She has now passed away following a ‘long illness,’ but her publicist did not share details on what it was.
‘With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model,’ her representatives said in a statement.
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