Tina Turner was introduced to me around the age of 8 or 9 though my grandmother, who is about the same age as Ms. Tina. My favorite and most memorable song is Private Dancer. MTV had it on heavy rotation and I would watch it constantly trying to mimic her sultry dance moves unbeknownst as to what the subject matter of the song. Then came Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome • We Don’t Need Another Hero. That was an introductory into the power and strength of Tina Turner and it was my new favorite.
I never really questioned my admiration for Tina Turner over the other artist of her era. Trust me, I LOVE The Boss: Diana Ross and The Queen: Aretha Franklin, and dare I not mention the ultimate Diva: Pattie Labelle but Tina Turner spoke to my child aged heart then until today. The viewing of TINA took me into Tina’s world. I loved that TINA is told as Her Story and Her Words.
You can’t mention Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock, without Ike Turner coming into the story. Ike was an experienced musician and older man. They met at a nightclub in St. Louis in 1957 and with the persistence of Anna Mae Bullock to sing, Ike eventually saw the raw talent that stood before him. She was only 17 and started singing with him and his band every weekend. During this time, he nurtured her and swooned her with jewelry and furs. She lived two lives, weekends involved singing and dancing and weekdays she went to school.
With the music industry being such a dog eating dog world, Ike would help and develop talent that would take the success and run, leaving him with nothing. With Anna Mae, he decided things were going to be different. Ike put his name on everything as if then Anna Mae Bullock had to pay for all the betrayal of the musicians before her. Tina made a promise that she wouldn’t leave him and she honored it her word.
In those days, a Promise was a Promise. ~ Tina Turner
A Fool In Love: In with Tina, Out with Anna Mae
It was 1967 and on the heels of their first hit record A Fool In Love received rave reviews from New York City. With it came recording contracts, the official name Tina and the Ike and Tina Review was born. In hindsight red flags were everywhere like when Ike just told her this is your new name and by the way, we need to get married. This is sort of where the beginning and the end began. Tina credits it as a creative foundation of sorts.
You Adjust To What Is Given
Ike Turner dysfunctionally functioned in his world, often not disclosing what he disapproved of or the changes being made and even failing prep the band with a stage itinerary. They just had to adjust to what signals were given by him on stage or face financial penalty and verbal abuse afterwards.
The abuse with Tina went beyond verbal and into physical and emotional. It was extensive and seemingly never ending to her. The physical abuse came about at random-with band members present to private moments between the two of them and even in front of their children. It was the worst scenario for Mrs. Turner even having her attempting to take her own life. She saw no possibility of happiness ever with Ike and definitely didn’t see a way out.
The Language of the Universe: Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
Chanting came into Tina Turner’s life, ironically through Ike, and was the ultimate liberation that she didn’t know she needed. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, is the mystical law of the universe, that helps you to be able to manifest the things you want in your life. This was confirmed one night when Tina was performing on stage and someone shouted Tina, the world is opening up to you. Tina recognized that change was happening in herself, she was beginning to fly.
Her ultimate liberation came in my hometown, Dallas, TX. The great escape awaited her and she ran with it, never looking back. She soon divorced Ike and her life had finally begun. Ms. Turner walked away with nothing, not a car, not a home, not a dime to her name and not even having the rights to her name TINA. Wanting her freedom like she wanted to breath she accepted all except for the latter. She asked the courts for the rights to her name and she was granted it.
The Next Journey: A Rock n’ Roll Queen
Tina started a new journey and with a new vision for herself. It was at this point in the documentary that I saw how her story was so much more than her treacherous and violent marriage to Ike Turner. There was a story here, a life, that was happening before the Ike and Tina Turner Review and a full life that was lived after him.
Tina fought to rebirth her career. It was no easy task. In fact, I never knew of her career struggles until the documentary. I thought she was still known and requested for the entire time of her career. She had to start completely over. Yes, she could reference all that she had done with the Ike and Tina Turner Review but the sound wasn’t relevant any more and the music industry had changed. Not many really remembered how great a performer she was.
From scratch she had to create a new vision, build a team, go through image consulting, start playing in small venues as if she were a brand new artist on the scene. Luckily, the one thing she already knew how to do was to perform. That fire still existed in her and she showed it to the world and the world loved it. The world simply loved TINA.
What I saw was a little girl from the cotton fields of Nutbush, Tennessee. Abandoned by both her mother and father at a young age, born and raised without direction and experienced the highs and lows of life while finding her way. I see a woman today that is the ultimate rock star, an unbelievable achiever that sang and danced her way through adversity to become the incredible woman that she is today. The Queen of Rock n’ Roll and a survivor with the ultimate story of triumph. Farewell, Tina Turner, I love you!
*This post is in collaboration with HBOMax. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.