Tina Turner with sons
Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26 1939. Her parents, Floyd Richard and Zelma Priscilla Bullock, were sharecroppers. She was raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, where she recalled picking cotton with her family as a child. She sang in the tiny town’s church choir. When Anna Mae was 11, her mother Zelma left her abusive husband (Tina’s father, Richard) and moved to St Louis. When her father Richard remarried, he left Anna Mae in the care of her grandmother. True this was a kinship guardian kind of situation and not all that uncommon then – or today. It still left wounds of abandonment. blogger’ note – I did much the same, leaving my 3 year old daughter with her paternal grandmother, when I took a leap of faith to try and earn enough money to support the two of us (since there was no child support forthcoming).
Tina became pregnant during her senior year of high school. She moved in with the father, saxophonist Raymond Hill, who was living with Ike Turner as part of his Kings of Rhythm band. She welcomed her first child, Craig, in August 1958, though the couple had already broken up before he was born. Tina Turner lived as a single mother until she began her relationship with Ike. Tina then helped raise his two sons from his previous marriage to Lorraine Taylor – Ike Turner Jr and Michael Turner. Tina and Ike Turner had one biological child together, Ronnie, who was born in 1960. Ike adopted Craig and Tina adopted Ike Jr and Michael. Tina adopted Buddhism and feels the practice of chanting has had a positive effect on her life.
Tina suffered the deaths of both her biological sons during her lifetime. In 2018, Craig died by suicide at the age of 55. He had been working as a real estate agent and had struggled with his mental health. Tina is known to have said that he was always an “emotional child.” She described his death as her “saddest moment as a mother”. She scattered his ashes off the coast of California. Ronnie Turner was born two years before Tina and Ike married in 1962. Ronnie had dabbled in acting, including with his mother in a biopic movie based on his mother’s life titled What’s Love Got To Do With It. His father, Ike Turner died in 2007 at the age of 76. Ronnie spoke at his father’s funeral. It was shortly after that, when his own health battle began leading to his death in 2022 from the complications of colon cancer.
Ike Turner Jr has spoken about the estrangement he and his brother experienced when their mother moved to Europe. She was the “only mother he knew” and he felt that she had abandoned him, saying “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.”
Tina has said – “I had a terrible life. I just kept going. You just keep going, and you hope that something will come.”