Five things we learnt about Tina Turner through her new HBO documentary

The singer has had a tumultuous life, which has been well documented in the film

Tina Turner in a scene from the documentary 'Tina'. HBO via AP
Tina Turner in a scene from the documentary 'Tina'. HBO via AP

Tina, a new authorised documentary about Tina Turner, has just released on HBO Max and is winning over fans and critics alike for its re-telling of the famed American-Swiss singer's harrowing life story.

The film is told in two parts. The first delves into her childhood and the neglect she faced, as well as the spousal abused endured while married to Ike Turner from 1962 to 1978.

The second part is more uplifting, as it looks at her personal triumph and career resurrection from the 1980s with hits such as The Best and What’s Love Got to Do with It, as well as her journey towards finding happiness.

Here are five things we learnt about Tina Turner in 'Tina':

1. She felt rejected by her mother

The documentary looks at the singer's early years and family, specifically her mother, Zelma, who suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her father before they both abandoned their young daughter, leaving Tina's grandparents to raise her.

Even when Tina reunited with her mum after becoming a superstar, she said she still felt that her mother was cold and unloving.

“Mum was not kind. When I became a star, of course back then she was happy because I bought her a house. I did all kinds of things for her, she was my mother. I was trying to make her comfortable because she didn’t have a husband, she was alone, but she still didn’t like me,” the Private Dancer singer says in the documentary.

“She didn’t want me, she didn’t want to be around me, even though she wanted my success. But I did for her as if she loved me.”

This image released by HBO shows Tina Turner performing in 1976, from the documentary "Tina." (Rhonda Graam/HBO via AP)
Tina Turner performing in 1976; a scene from the documentary 'Tina'. HBO via AP

2. Ike Turner forced her to change her name

While most of us know her as Tina Turner, she was actually born Anna Mae Bullock, but the name change wasn't her decision. In the documentary, she discusses how enraged Ike became because she wouldn’t change her name.

“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."

3. She hated 'What’s Love Got To Do With It'

It’s one of her biggest tracks, but she admits she didn't love the song the first time she heard it. “It was terrible. It was awful,” she says. “I was rock ‘n’ roll … This was a pop song."

Even Terry Britten, who co-wrote and produced the track, wasn’t a fan.

What’s Love was probably the worst thing I’ve ever done to this date,” he says in the documentary about his original demo, which he describes as “very white, very pop. And nothing remotely would say ‘Tina Turner'.”

4. She has forgiven Ike

Despite their incredibly toxic marriage, Tina says she forgives Ike and no longer hates him. She credits her Buddhist faith for helping her find forgiveness.

She says: “For a long time I did hate Ike, I have to say that. But then, after he died, I really realised that he was an ill person. He did get me started and he was good to me in the beginning. So I have some good thoughts. Maybe it was a good thing that I met him, that I don’t know.

“It hurts to have to remember those times, but at a certain stage forgiveness takes over, forgiving means not having to hold on.

“It was letting go, because it only hurts you. By not forgiving, you suffer, because you think about it over and over. And for what?”

5. She suffers from a form of PTSD

Tina is now 81 and plagued by ill health issues after suffering a stroke and overcoming cancer. But she also has a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, we learn. Although Ike died in 2007, her now-husband Erwin Bach, whom she married in 2013, says she still has nightmares.

"She has dreams about it, they’re not pleasant. It’s like when soldiers come back from the war. It’s not an easy time to have those in your memory and then try to forget," Bach says.

Tina, who first tried to escape from Ike with a sleeping pill overdose in 1968, admits: “That scene comes back. You’re dreaming it. The real picture is there, it’s like a curse.”

Updated: March 29, 2021 05:26 PM

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