Tina Turner Reveals The Gut-Wrenching Reason Why She Attempted Suicide

2018 is the year that superstar Tina Turner opens up about details of her life that she kept hidden from the public for decades.

The "Proud Mary" singer's life story has recently been adapted into a self-titled musical in London and while that's underway, the 78-year-old is also getting candid through her new memoir My Love Story.

Tina discusses a number of topics in the autobiography, namely her rise to stardom, decades-long music career, and the trauma she experienced while married to her late husband and musical partner, Ike.

An unlikely pairing

The Nutbush, Tennessee-native revealed that she met Ike in the late 50s at a St. Louis club while he performed with his band, Kings of Rhythm.

Ike and Tina Turner in 1971
Ike and Tina Turner in 1971Wikimedia Commons/Rob Mieremet

At 17, Tina admitted that there was initially no spark between her and Ike at all.

"Ike wasn't conventionally handsome," she wrote. "Actually, he wasn't handsome at all "” and he certainly wasn't my type. I was used to high school boys who were clean-cut, athletic, and dressed in denim, so Ike's processed hair, diamond ring, and skinny body looked old to me, even though he was only 25. I couldn't help thinking, "˜God, he's ugly.'"

However, things took an unexpected turn and the pair eventually started dating, but when Ike realized that Tina was "his money-maker," their relationship "was doomed."

"He needed to control me, economically and psychologically, so I could never leave him," Tina explained.

" I couldn't remember what it was like not to have a black eye..."

Not only did he force her to change her name from Anna Mae to Tina (the name of a character from his favorite show), he also talked her into taking his last name even though they weren't yet married.

Of course, Tina was against it all, but Ike used both verbal and physical force to get her to submit to his demands.

"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. I was so shocked I started to cry. Ike ordered me to get on the bed. I hated him at that moment. The very last thing I wanted to do was make love, if you could call it that. When he finished, I laid there with a swollen head, thinking, "˜You're pregnant and you have no place to go. You really have gotten yourself into something now.'"

After the birth of their son, Ronnie (Tina's second child), the couple eloped and tied the knot in Tijuana, Mexico. According to Tina, they spent their wedding night at a brothel, something that she's "never, ever, told anyone" because she was "too embarrassed."

"I was miserable, on the verge of tears, but there was no escape. We couldn't leave until Ike was ready, and he was having a fine old time," she added.

Marriage seemed to have only made their relationship worse, and at one point it all became too much for Tina to bear.

"Sex with Ike had become an expression of hostility "” a kind of rape "” especially when it began or ended with a beating," she alleged. Tina also detailed some of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Ike, who became addicted to cocaine.  

"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. The people closest to us saw what was happening, but they couldn't stop him: any attempt to help me would make him more violent."

Suicide attempt

She convinced a doctor to write her a prescription for sleeping pills, and she took all 50 of them at once. The attempt to take her own life did not work, and although Tina confessed that she was "unhappy" when she came to, from then on she believed that she "was meant to survive" and decided to fight.

In 1976, while on tour, the singer decided enough was enough and ran away from Ike with nothing but a Mobil card, 36 cents in her pocket and two Jaguar cars to her name.

Amazingly, she was able to rebuild her career sans Ike, and even successfully fight for the custody of their children and her name, which Ike owned the trademark to. She admitted that she wanted no money from Ike because it's "only blood money."

" It seems so funny now "” no money for food or rent, but two Jaguars! Considering my age, 39, my gender, my color, and the times we lived in, everything was strong winds against me. But you keep going."

Ike denied all the allegations prior to his death in 2007, but Tina wasn't the only one who gave detailed accounts of his abusive behavior. Their children also suffered.

Ike and Tine pose for a family photo with their children
Ike and Tina pose with their children. Clockwise from bottom left: Michael, Tina, Ike Jr., Ronnie, Ike, and Craig.American Media Inc

After surviving a traumatic childhood, Tina's oldest son, Craig, took his own life this past July.

As for Tina, she managed to hold on long enough to find love again. She married German music executive Erwin Bach and has lived with him in Europe since 1995. She renounced her American citizenship in 2013.

Tina's raw and empowering book couldn't have come at a better time as we're currently living in the #MeToo era, during which more and more women are bravely opening up about their personal stories of abuse.

My Love Story is set to be released on October 16 and you can pre-order a copy on Amazon right now.

If you are a victim of abuse call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. If you are considering suicide, or believe someone you know is, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Just so you know, Shared may collect a share of sales or other compensation from some of the links on this page. However, we only choose products we would or have purchased ourselves.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.