Tina Turner says sex with her brutal husband was akin to ‘rape’

When Ike Turner proposed, there was nothing romantic about it. ‘You want to marry me?’ he said. Gruff, terse, no niceties.

Marriage to me, he thought, was a good manoeuvre. It would help him out of a tricky situation with one of his former wives, who wanted to extract some money from him.

Who knows which wife it was. By 1962, Ike had been married so many times, I’d lost track — and all those wives were in addition to the countless girlfriends who came and went with dizzying speed.

So, no, I didn’t want to marry him, but I didn’t have much choice. By the time he proposed, we had four children between us and a shared career as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

Our wedding, he decided, would take place in Tijuana, Mexico, because they weren’t fussy about little things like having a marriage licence. There was no point objecting — that would just make him mad, and might lead to a beating. I definitely didn’t want a black eye on my wedding day.

Tijuana was seedy and honky-tonk in those days. Once we crossed over the border, we found the Mexican version of a justice of the peace in a small, dirty office.

He pushed some papers across a desk for me to sign, and that was it. But as bad as that was, what came next was even worse.

You see, so long as Ike was in down-and-dirty Tijuana, he wanted to have fun, his kind of fun.

So he took me to a whorehouse. On my wedding night.

I’ve never, ever, told anyone this story before. I was too embarrassed. What kind of bridegroom takes his brand-new wife to a live pornographic sex show, right after their marriage ceremony?

There I sat, in this filthy place, watching Ike out of the corner of my eye, wondering: ‘Does he really like this? How could he?’

It was all so ugly. The male performer was unattractive and seemingly impotent, and the girl — well, let’s just say that what was on display was more gynaecological than erotic.

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.

The experience was so disturbing that I just scratched it out. By the time we got back to Los Angeles, I’d created a completely different scenario in my head — a romantic elopement.

The following day, I was bragging to people: ‘Guess what? Oh, Ike took me to Tijuana. We got married yesterday!’

It was my elder sister who took me to the Club Manhattan in St. Louis, Missouri. The band that filled the place every night was Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm. Of course, I’d heard of them, everybody had. Ike’s Rocket 88, one of the very first rock ’n’ roll songs ever, had been a big hit.

The first time I saw him on stage, I couldn’t help thinking: ‘God, he’s ugly.’ I was definitely in the minority. Most women, black or white, found Ike irresistible because there was something dangerous about him.

And he didn’t just look dangerous: there were endless rumours about his bad temper, his flare-ups with his musicians, his fights with jealous women (and sometimes their angry husbands).

When he picked up his guitar or played the piano, though, he just lit up. People went crazy — even me. Back then, I was a skinny 17-year-old schoolgirl called Anna Mae Bullock.

Although I started attending the club regularly, I doubt that Ike ever noticed me at all.

One night, I grabbed a mike that was floating round the audience and joined Ike in a song.

He was visibly shocked when he heard my big voice; it didn’t seem possible it could come from such a slip of a girl.

That was the start. Soon, Ike and I had become fast friends. The best part was that he taught me all about music and paid me to sing onstage.

When I wanted romance, I found it with a handsome young man who played saxophone in the band. Unfortunately, I became pregnant and my boyfriend moved home to Mississippi, which was the last I ever saw of him.

In 1958, at 18, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I was strong and quick to recover, and I wanted to make a good life for my son.

When I wasn’t singing, I was working as a hospital aide, and flirting with the idea of studying to be a nurse. Who was I kidding? I liked dressing up in the fancy clothes Ike bought me — long gloves, sparkly earrings and pretty dresses — and I wanted to sing. That meant more time spent practising at his house.

And then one night we crossed the line. I think we were both surprised, even uncomfortable, but it seemed easier to remain lovers than struggle to recapture our friendship.

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