Ike Turner Jr. Wasn’t Able To Speak To His Mother Tina Turner For Decades Before She Passed Away

Jun 02, 2023 by apost team

Trigger Warning: This article contains mentions of suicide that may be troubling for some readers.

At 83 years old, Tina Turner passed away on May 24, 2023. She peacefully died in her home in Switzerland, according to a post on her official Instagram account. With a long, impressive list of iconic hits and international successes, the singer had undeniably left her mark on pop culture with her five-decades-long career. She didn’t always have it easy, however, having experienced many hardships and hurdles along the way.  

Tina suffered extreme domestic abuse from her late ex-husband, Ike Turner Sr. before she left him in 1976. In that same year, the trailblazing music icon filed for divorce due to irreconcilable differences. The two had endured a very tumultuous relationship, with Tina going as far as adopting Ike Sr.’s children from his previous marriage. 

She adopted Ike Turner Jr. and Michael Turner, Ike Sr.’s sons to Lorraine Taylor and treated them like her own sons. The two finally had a glimpse of having a real mother as they had struggled with their biological mother Taylor, as she also had a problematic relationship with their father. According to reports, Taylor ended her life in the bathroom after suspecting that Ike Sr. and Tina were having an affair.  

However, Ike Jr. and Tina’s relationship had fallen out after the divorce, and it was reported that during Tina and Ike's marriage, the kids had grown up under the supervision of nannies and other housekeepers due to their tumultuous relationship. Aside from her two adopted sons, Tina also had Ronnie Turner, her only biological child with Ike Sr., and Craig Raymond Turner, her son with saxophonist Raymond Hill.

In a 2018 interview, Ike Jr. revealed that he had not spoken to his mother for more than a decade, which surprised many at the time. Keep on reading to know more about Ike Jr., his relationship with Tina and more about his mother’s death. 

Tina Turner (1964), (Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images)

Born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939, Tina had lived a somewhat comfortable life as a child, with her parents, Floyd and Zelma Bullock, both sharecroppers, able to provide a substantial home for the family and always have food on the table. According to Tina, her mother and father were both "church people," well-spoken and neat. But at home, they were struggling with a tumultuous marriage. 

"My mother and father didn't love each other, so they were always fighting," Tina told Rolling Stone in a 1986 interview. Her mother would up and leave and take Tina and her sister, Alline, but would eventually return when her husband came around and convinced her to make it work. However, one day, her mother left – this time leaving her girls behind – and never came back. Tina was just 10 years old at the time. That experience left her feeling hurt, although, as she explained, more because she felt unloved rather than because her mother had left. 

"I was different, because I've always been a loner," she explained. "It mattered that she'd left – but it also didn't matter. What I simply missed was that she didn't love me."

Three years later, her father left the family as well, and Tina and her sister moved in with their grandmother. As a teenager, she attended school and worked as a babysitter in the afternoon for the Henderson family, whose matriarch, Tina said, became something of a role model for her. She had even fallen in love for the first time with a boy named Harry, whom she saw one day in her high school gym and knew instantly that she wanted him. "It was love at first sight," she recounted. That fling would only be brief, however, as Harry ended up impregnating another girl in the school and marrying her, with Tina only finding out through her classmates' gossip.


Ike Turner, Tina Turner (c.1966/1967), (GAB Archive/Redferns via Getty Images)

Then, at age 16, Tina's life was once again turned upside down when her grandmother died. With nowhere to go, the singer and her sister moved to St. Louis to reunite with their mother. Now in the big city, the two teens would frequent the clubs and mingle with the local music scene, where Tina eventually met her first husband, Ike.

"... boy, could he play that music," she recalled. "The place just started rocking. I wanted to get up there and sing sooooo bad. But that took an entire year."

But when that time finally came, Tina blew Ike and his band away with her voice and eventually started performing with them. 

Around that same time, she began dating another band member, saxophonist Raymond Hill, with whom she fell pregnant at 18 years old. Hill had not been around to raise Tina's son, however, so the young singer raised him with her mother and sister's help for the first two years while working at a hospital to support herself. Then at age 20, a record company became enthralled with Tina's voice after the label owner heard a tape of Tina's song, "A Fool In Love," sent in by Ike, and together the two began performing as "Ike and Tina Turner." In the meantime, they also started a romantic relationship, with Tina taking in and raising Ike's two sons from a previous relationship, Ike Jr. and Michael. 

After "A Fool in Love"'s successthe Ike and Tina act became the hottest Rhythm and Blues ensemble, releasing numerous records and singles and effortlessly topping the charts. But while the couple had enjoyed great success with their music, their relationship took a dark turn at home, as Ike began abusing his wife physically, and Tina became trapped.  

Ike & Tina Turner with their son and stepsons (circa 1972), (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

Tina recalled in the same Rolling Stone interview:

"It was a thoroughly unhappy situation I was in, but I was too far gone. I was trapped into really caring about Ike," Tina explained. "If I left him, what was he going to do? Go back to St. Louis? I didn't want to let him down. As horrible as he treated me, I still felt responsible for letting him down. That was a mental problem I had at the time. And I was afraid to leave." 

Then in 1976, after 16 years in an abusive marriage, Tina finally found the courage to leave and left without a plan and with none of the money she'd earned with her husband. Struggling at first, the singer eventually found a home for herself and was reunited with all four of her children and used food stamps and got help from her family to keep food on the table. Their divorce was long, hard, public and messy, but after it was all over, Tina was able to stand on her own two feet again and began a solo career. 

The first couple of years after the Ike and Tina act dissolved proved difficult for Tina career-wise, with subsequent albums and singles enjoying lukewarm success. By the early '80s, she was already considered a nostalgia act until she released her cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," which gave the singer a comeback on the international charts – even reaching number six in the UK. One year later, she reached number one on the Billboard 100 with her timeless hit, "What's Love Got To Do With It," and with it turned a new chapter in her career. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tina Turner (1984), (Gary Gershoff/Archive Photos via Getty Images)

Tina enjoyed immense success over the following decades and decided in 2009, after embarking on her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour, that she was finally ready to retire. Within a few years, she married her partner of decades, Erwin Bach and together, the couple enjoyed their life in Küsnacht, Switzerland.

However, by 2016, Tina's health woes began, first with a stroke, after which she had to learn how to walk again, followed by a diagnosis of intestinal cancer, while doctors told her both her kidneys were failing. Tina admitted to Oprah Winfrey that she was ready to accept her fate, but Bach wouldn't have any of it. 

"Erwin chimed in, very emotional, and said, 'I don't want another partner,'" Tina said. "He was 150 percent ready to give me his kidney."

The singer expressed her gratitude for being able to see another day in her memoir. She wrote, according to People:

"... I'm still here ... I can look back and understand why my karma was the way it was. Good came out of bad. Joy came out of pain. And I have never been so completely happy as I am today."

The music icon reiterated the same sentiment in an interview with The Guardian in December 2020:

"My life over the past 10 years has been my ideal version of happiness."

She added: "That may come as a surprise to some, since I had serious health challenges. But real joy doesn't mean having a problem-free life. True and lasting happiness comes from having an unshakeable, hopeful spirit that can shine, no matter what. That's what I've achieved, and it is my greatest wish to help others become truly happy as well."  

Tina Turner (2005), (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

Throughout her life and success, Tina's relationship with her adopted stepsons was not always clear. Ike Jr., who was the most outspoken about Tina, was born in 1958 and was adopted by the singer when he was 2. Unbeknownst to many, Tina had a huge influence on Ike Jr.’s upbringing, especially on how he became a musician. 

As quoted by People Magazine in a 2017 interview, Ike Jr. said it was Tina who had a hand in helping him select his musical instruments of choice: 

“My first instrument was drums, until my mother started making me break my drums down every day, so the piano was always there. So I started playing piano. I play guitar and bass. Everything except horn.”

Perhaps the most beneficial thing that Ike Jr. inherited from Ike Sr. was the gift of musicianship. In 2007, he won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 49th Grammy Awards for “Risin' With The Blues.” 

“I got a Grammy for Risin’ with the Blues, I produced an album of my (father’s), and my second Grammy, I started another category, an album produced and engineered by the same person,” he told Eaton in the interview. 

After Tina and Ike's divorce, it wasn’t just Ike Jr. who was impacted, but also his younger brother, Michael. In an interview with Spin Magazine in 1985, Ike Jr. shared an update on how his brother fared after the divorce. 

“Michael wanted my mother and father to get back together, and the next thing knew he was in the hospital. He was hurt by their being apart.”

In the People interview, Ike Jr. revealed that Michael had been using wheelchairs and suffered from “several strokes and seizures” from time to time. According to him, Tina was aware of Michael's situation, but she had not contacted him since leaving the family, however, he later revealed that she did send money for his medical bills.   

Ike Turner, Ike Turner Jr. (2007), (Bob Riha, Jr./Archive Photos via Getty Images)

In an interview with The Daily Mail in 2018, Ike Jr. revealed that he felt his mother, Tina, had abandoned them in the United States as she fled to Europe for solace and peace. 

“Tina raised me from the age of two. She’s the only mother I’ve ever known. But I haven’t talked to my mother since God knows when – probably around 2000. I don’t think any of my brothers have talked to her in a long time either,” he confessed. “My mother is living her life – she has a new husband and she’s in Europe. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with the past.” 

He told the outlet that although their mother had not been in contact with them, she had sent his brother financial support for his medical needs. 

Aside from revealing that he hadn’t been in contact with Tina for years, Ike Jr. also believed that his mother should have forgiven his father for his wrongdoings before his death in 2007. He noted that like his mother, he also suffered domestic abuse from his father after he learned that Ike Jr. had worked for his mother after his parents’ separation.  

However, in a 2020 interview with The Times of London, Tina revealed she had forgiven Ike. 

“As an old person, I have forgiven him, but it would not work with him,” she explained. “He asked for one more tour with me, and I said, ‘No, absolutely not.’ Ike wasn’t someone you could forgive and allow him back in. It’s all gone, all forgotten.”    

Since his interview in 2018, Ike Jr. has not revealed to the public whether he talked to his late mother or not in her final years. As for Tina's other children, Craig committed suicide in 2018 while Ronnie passed away in 2022. 

Tina passed away on May 24, 2023, after a long battle with an illness linked to her many health struggles.    

Tina Turner, Erwin Bach (2018), (Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select via Getty Images)

Are you a fan of Tina Turner? Did you know about her broken relationship with her sons following her divorce from Ike Turner? Let us know, and pass this on to other Tina Turner fans so they can read about it too.

If you or anybody you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please call Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Befrienders Worldwide - Global Suicide Prevention to find your local suicide prevention hotline. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for you or your loved ones and best practices for professionals.

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