Tina Turner Once Said She Didn’t Know If She Could Ever Forgive Ike Turner: ‘I Had a Terrible Life’

Tina Turner became a star in the ’60s while performing with her then-husband Ike Turner. On the outside, they appeared to be what many people would label #RelationshipGoals in this day and age, but their union was anything but.

Their romance was marred by domestic abuse and other alarming behaviors on Ike’s end before its eventual end in 1978. Despite the time that has passed, Turner still struggles with what happened and said in late 2019 that she doesn’t know if she will ever forgive her ex for his transgressions.

Tina Turner at an event in May 2009
Tina Turner at an event in May 2009 | Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Looking back at Tina Turner’s relationship with Ike Turner

Turner, whose birth name is Anna Mae Bullock, met Ike as a teenager when she visited a St. Louis club where Ike had been performing with his band, the Kings of Rhythm. Soon, she joined the group, which was later renamed the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

The band started to land their first major hits around the same time the singers became romantically involved. They welcomed a son in 1960 and married in Mexico two years later.

Though they were extremely successful, Turner revealed in her autobiography I, Tina (1986) that Ike had abused her throughout their relationship. (He claimed in his 1999 autobiography, Takin’ Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner, that they had hit each other.)

“He threw hot coffee in my face, giving me third-degree burns,” she added in the 2018 memoir My Love Story (via USA Today). “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.”

Ike and Tina Turner performing onstage
Ike and Tina Turner performing onstage | David Redfern/Redferns

After a friend introduced her to Buddhism, Turner eventually found the strength to break up with Ike and move forward independently. She left him in 1976 after a brutal fight at a Dallas hotel and officially divorced him two years later.

The New York Times notes that Turner has never talked about all of the abuse she suffered at Ike’s hands. But some of it was captured in the 1993 biographical film What’s Love Got to Do with It, which starred Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne.

Tina Turner and Ike Turner moved on

After the dissolution of their relationship, things slowed down a bit for Turner. But 1984’s Private Dancer revitalized her career, spawning hits such as “What’s Love Got to Do with It” and going five-times platinum. Turner’s career remained successful until she retired in the 2000s.

Ike also continued to make music, but he struggled with drug addiction and legal drama. Later in his life, he began to retreat from the public eye before dying of a drug overdose in 2007.

Reflecting on their relationship in a September 2019 interview with the Times, Turner said: “I don’t know if I could ever forgive all that Ike ever did to me. But “Ike’s dead,” she continued. “So we don’t have to worry about him.”

Tina and Ike Turner
Tina and Ike Turner | GAB Archive/Redferns

Tina Turner is now in a happy, healthy relationship

In the ’80s, Turner began dating German music producer Erwin Bach and in 1995 moved to Switzerland with him, where she has citizenship. The pair married in a star-studded celebration in 2013.

Speaking about how far she’s come and how much her life has changed, Turner added to the Times: “I don’t necessarily want to be a ‘strong’ person. I had a terrible life. I just kept going. You just keep going, and you hope that something will come.”