Anna Mae Bullock entered the world on November 26, 1939 unloved. “How did that child prevail in spite of the many strikes against her?” is answered in Tina Turner’s My Love Story. Her mother died in 1999:
I mourned the relationship we should have had.
Love saved me.
– Tina Turner, My Love Story
Tina met Erwin Bach, an executive with EMI, during her Private Dancer tour in Cologne in 1985. He was about 30, and she was 46. It was “love at first sight.” Feeling naughty and frisky, Tina propositioned Erwin. She wasn’t looking for a husband, but she was most definitely looking for love. He proposed the first time four years later, and she declined.
Erwin proposed again during a cruise through the Greek isles on the island of Skorpios which was Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ retreat. This time she said yes. They were married on July 21, 2013 at their home, Château Algonquin, near Zurich, Switzerland. Her gown was designed by Giorgio Armani.
Sadly, three months after their magical day, Tina had a stroke. She had opted to ignore her doctor’s advice to take medication for high blood pressure with devastating consequences. After the stroke, she had vertigo (an extreme balance disorder) followed by intestinal cancer and kidney failure. Fortunately, Switzerland has “the world’s best health care system,” and Erwin offered her one of his kidneys. Unfortunately:
The drugs used to control my cancer would be in direct conflict with the drugs necessary for a successful transplant. . .I was surviving, but not living. . .my failure to treat my high blood pressure had essentially destroyed my kidneys. . .The consequence of my ignorance ended up being a matter of life and death.
As the couple was celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary on July 3, 2018, in Paris, Tina received the horrendous news that her eldest son Craig Raymond Turner had committed suicide using a gun which had belonged to his maternal grandmother. He was a month shy of his 60th birthday which they had planned to celebrate together on August 20 in Zurich. Craig’s father was Raymond Hill, a saxophonist in Ike Turner’s band.
Tina’s youngest son Ronald Renelle Turner was born on October 27, 1960. His father was Ike Turner:
I spent the first seven years of my marriage wondering what I had gotten into, and the last seven trying to figure out how to get out. . .When life with Ike was at its worst, I turned to Buddhism.
I wasn’t just running away from Ike. I was running toward a new life. . .At the age of thirty-seven, I was starting over. . .I had to depend on friends. . .I couldn’t stay with anyone who knew Ike. . .Convincing Ike that I was really and truly gone, and doing it in a way that wouldn’t get me killed, was going to be my biggest challenge. . .In his narcissistic mind, he wanted to believe that Tina would be lost without Ike.
Rhonda Graam, who had been Tina’s friend since 1964, became her manager. Tina joined forces with Cher, and they:
. . .determined to do whatever was necessary to win financial independence. . .money wasn’t as important to me as my freedom. . .I had to swallow my pride. . .I released myself from the burden of getting everything right. . .learn from my mistakes. . .My only goal was to survive. . .I refused to be intimidated. . .[Ike] had foot soldiers who were willing to do whatever he asked. . .Ike planned on using the divorce to keep us tied to each other.
Tina told the judge that she didn’t want anything but the right to her name. She walked out of court with it and her two Jaguars:
You keep going. You just don’t stop. No matter, if there’s one slap in 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 to you in the past. You just have to keep going. . .
Ike would always be a part of my story, but he was becoming the receding image in the rearview mirror. I had to think about the future, not the past.
She didn’t give up. She thought strategically. Roger Davies became her manager. The Ritz, a club in New York’s East Village, became her lucky charm. Rod Stewart, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie became her fairy godfathers. She found success in Europe. Private Dancer became a hit which brought Erwin into her life.