Tina Turner’s tragic life from abusive husband Ike to death of son Craig

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Tina Turner smiles on the red carpet outside a fashion show in Paris – not knowing that 6,000 miles away her eldest son was about to turn a gun on himself.

 

Four hours after this photo was taken on Tuesday, Craig Turner, 59, was found dead in his flat in Los Angeles.

 

Behind her pop icon status and £200million record sales has been a private life rocked by abuse, infidelity, abortion, violence and heartache.

Tina regretted not spending enough time with her two children, and that they witnessed so many of her beatings at the hands of husband Ike Turner.

In May 2005, she told Oprah Winfrey that it took a particular toll on Craig, who “was a very emotional kid”.

She said: “He’d always look down in sadness. One day when Ike was fighting me, Craig knocked on the door and said, ‘Mother, are you all right?’ I thought, ‘Please, don’t beat me at home.’ I didn’t want my children to hear.”

It is yet another sad chapter in Tina’s life story, one where the heights of professional glory have been set against the depths of personal tragedy.

 

But Tina’s relationship with her children was, by her own admission, always somewhat unusual.

Singing with violent husband Ike (Image: GETTY)

She said: “I love them, in a strange kind of way. I’m not mushy with them. I don’t need them right there every minute. I’m not a mother hen with them.

“I’m there for them. They can always get to me, but I can’t be surrounded by my family or anyone much. I am a loner.

“I told them that I’m not going to take care of them; they take care of themselves. I’m here to help you, but do not depend on me. You’ve got to use your own arms and legs, just like I used mine.”

Maybe she wanted them to grow up as tough as their mother.

Tina said: “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.”

Tina was born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 and raised in the tiny Tennessee town of Nutbush, which she later immortalised in one of her biggest hits.

Her farmer father paid the rent in crops and demanded his youngest daughter picked cotton in the sweltering fields of the racially segregated deep South.

Tina and Ike pose with their son and step-sons in around 1972 (Image: Getty)

Anna Mae distracted herself from the back-breaking work by dreaming of a glamorous future.

She recalled mum Zelma and dad Richard constantly fighting, and she felt unwanted and unloved.

She said: “It was just a fact that my parents didn’t care that much for me.

“See, my mother didn’t want me in the first place. She had taken my father away from another girl – which is instant karma right there. She was in the process of leaving my father when she got pregnant with me.”

Tina’s mum walked out when she was 10, and three years later her dad remarried and abandoned her.

Tina said: “I didn’t have anybody, really, no foundation in life, so I had to make my own way. Always, from the start. I had to go out in the world and become strong, to discover my mission in life.”

Aged 16 at Club Imperial in St Louis, Missouri, she “almost went into a trance” while watching local R&B band Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm.

One night, when the singer failed to show up, she took the microphone during a break and started singing. Ike, knowing he had found a star, called her Little Ann on billings for future gigs.

Star had huge success after leaving Ike

But Tina’s singing career was nearly over before it had really begun. When her first love Harry Taylor got another girl pregnant, Tina had a rebound relationship with Ike’s saxophonist Raymond Hill and became pregnant too. She said: “I didn’t love him as much as Harry but he was good-looking. I thought, ‘My baby’s going to be beautiful’.”

Craig Raymond Hill was born on August 29, 1958, months after 18-year-old Tina graduated from high school – and after his father Raymond left her life.

Tina worked in a hospital to pay for a flat for her and Craig, and for a baby-sitter to look after him while she sang with the band. In 1959, when Ike upped her wages to 25 dollars a week, she moved into his house and they became a couple.

She knew he was a womaniser, with two children by two women, but within months she was pregnant with his son. Ronnie Turner was born in October 1960.

Mexico, in 1962 but their relationship was one of the stormiest in showbiz history, marked by Ike’s violence, drug addiction and infidelity.

Tina sang with Ike for over a decade despite the batterings. When she found she and one of his mistresses had simultaneously become pregnant with his children, she had a termination.

But it was a particularly brutal attack in Dallas in 1976 that made Tina leave. She said: “It was just time to not take any more.” They divorced in 1978 and Ike died in 2007.

The year after their split, Tina hired new management who changed her image. And in 1984 she released the album Private Dancer, which won three Grammys and has sold 10 million copies.

Tina also enjoyed acting success, with a role alongside Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond The Thunderdome.

She avoided men for years but in 1985 she met German record exec Erwin Bach, 17 years her junior, who she wed in 2013. They enjoy a quiet life in Switzerland, and she said: “I’ve touched upon a happiness I thought was impossible to have.”

Sadly, life had another blow in store. Tina is yet to release a statement about Craig’s death, but her life up to now has demonstrated her inner steel.

As she once said:“People think my life has been tough, but I think it’s been a wonderful journey. The older you get, the more you realise it’s not what happens, but how you deal with it.”

Star is now happily wed to Erwin Bach (Image: GETTY)

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