Tina Turner's Dramatic Escape and Triumphant Return

By Jack Ripley | January 17, 2024

She Debuted As Tina Turner With "A Fool In Love", 1960

The legendary Tina Turner, renowned for her explosive voice and electrifying stage presence, did not always bask in the spotlight's warm glow. In the heart of her story lies a harrowing struggle - one where she faced the daunting challenge of an abusive relationship and a fight for personal and professional freedom.

Our gallery takes you through the various stages of her journey, presenting a poignant exploration of her life off-stage. We begin with Tina's early years with Ike Turner, a chapter marked by both professional growth and personal turmoil. Tina's story serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of a woman who refused to be defined by her circumstances. She was a beacon of resilience, strength, and unstoppable talent: Miss Tina Turner! 

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"A Fool in Love" marked a significant turning point in Tina Turner's career. Released in 1960, this was the first significant hit for Tina and her then-husband, Ike Turner, who performed together as the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Interestingly, the song was not initially intended for Tina. Ike Turner had written the song for another artist, Art Lassiter. However, when Lassiter failed to appear for the recording session, Tina, then known as "Little Ann," was asked to lay down a guide vocal.

Tina's vocal performance was so impressive that it was decided that her vocals would remain on the track. 
The song became a hit, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and crossing over to the pop chart where it peaked at No. 27. It was around this time that Tina and Ike's relationship turned intimate, despite his long-term girlfriend. 

Ike and Tina Turner Rose To Fame, 1961

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(Getty Images)

While Ike and Tina were both enjoying the highs of professional successes, Tina had been forced to deal with intense lows behind the scenes since the start of her relationship with Ike. Right after the recording of "A Fool In Love", Tina had tried to end the relationship - and the physical and sexual abuse began. 

First, he was verbally abusive. Then, he picked up a wooden shoe stretcher. Ike knew what he was doing. If you play guitar, you never use your fists in a fight. He used the shoe stretcher to strike me in the head – always the head...After that he made me go to bed and he had sex with me. That was the beginning of the torture...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. He broke my jaw. And I couldn’t remember what it was like not to have a black eye.

Ike would continue with this abuse towards Tina for over a decade.