Linda: Tina Turner is known as The Queen of Rock and Roll, a legend in the music industry. But her success has been hard-won. Tina was an unwanted child, a rambunctious baby, and a Tom Boy who felt unloved by her mother. Her mother abandoned the family when Tina was only eleven years old. Her father moved out when she was thirteen, leaving her with cousins, her grandmother and a white family she babysat for, to care for her. Abandonment and dyslexia left her with feelings of inadequacy.
Tina met Ike in St. Louis when he was twenty-five and she was only seventeen. Ike lit up the stage with his exciting guitar and piano playing. She was drawn to his enormous musical talent. He was drawn to her shockingly strong singing voice. Ike soon saw Tina as a moneymaker for his band, and they married. Together, they created The Ike and Tina Review.
Ike, unhealed from his own dysfunctional background, focused his anger and hatred on to Tina. Although he was repeatedly violent with her, she had promised to never leave him and feared she couldn’t succeed professionally without him. Looking back on it, Tina calls herself at that time “A slave girl.” Ike was so controlling that Tina did not have friends for years so that he could be the only one influencing her. Ike had a string of affairs and was both physically and psychologically abusive to Tina and exploiting her talent as a performer for his own financial gain.
Tina and Ike attempted to raise their four boys, but their touring schedule left no time for family life. They left their sons with relatives to raise them. After fourteen years of abuse and exploitation, with great courage and determination, she extricated herself from the dangerous and exploitive relationship with Ike.
She describes sex with Ike as “an expression of hostility and a kind of rape, especially when it began or ended with a beating.” Ike became addicted to cocaine. He threw hot coffee in her face giving her third-degree burns, and Tina was a frequent visitor to the emergency room. Despite the enormous success of Tina’s musical career, she had trouble imagining that she could be successful without Ike. She felt so hopelessly trapped that, at her lowest point, she took fifty pills in a serious suicide attempt.
Tina discovered Buddhism and took on the practice of chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” Studying Buddhist philosophy and making new friends gave her strength and resolve to finally leave Ike. At thirty-nine years old, she left with no money of her own, and her teenage sons with her sister, mother, and Ike’s housekeeper. At first, she lived with her Buddhist friends. When she arrived in the judge’s chambers at the time of her divorce, she made a clear decision that day to leave with nothing, hardly any of their property, money or even her jewelry. She made a clean break, retaining only her name and two jaguars. In Tina’s words, “What do you do when all odds are against you? You keep going. You just don’t stop, no matter if there’s one slap to the face, turn the other cheek. And the hurt you’re feeling? You can’t think about what’s being done to you now or what has been done in the past. You just have to keep going.”
Tina has lived this advice, establish a dazzling career on her own. She recorded her own album Private Dancer which became an immediate smash hit. She performed with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. “What’s Love Got To Do With It” hit number one on the charts. She performed 180 shows in ten months for Private Dance, delighting thousands of fans. She fulfilled her wildest dreams of professional success singing and dancing to packed stadiums of adoring fans.
She is one of the best-selling artists of our times, selling 200 million records, winning twelve Grammys, and sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in the industry. Her career has spanned sixty years. Tina’s openness (on Oprah’s T.V. show and in her books and movies) about being a battered wife has helped countless women who are victims of domestic violence to find courage like she did to change their situations.
In 1986, at the age of forty-six, Tina unexpectedly met the love of her life, Erwin Back who was thirty years old. Presently, they live together with great joy and well-being in Zurich, Switzerland. She has written a beautiful memoir called My Love Story where she tells the story of her career development. She reveals her personal life in its raw horror and tells the story of her triumph to move into the thrive zone. This woman is truly a “phoenix rising from the ashes.”