7 big shocks revealed by Tina Turner in new documentary film 'Tina'

Tina Turner live on stage at Wembley Stadium in London in 1990.
Tina Turner, here live on stage in London in 1990, tells all in new HBO documentary Tina. (Image credit: WarnerMedia)

Tina Turner’s legacy will be that of a music icon who brought us hits including Proud Mary, What’s Love Got to Do With It and The Best. But she’s also known for her strength in overcoming the abuse she suffered at the hands of her late first husband, Ike Turner, and finding the strength to reinvent her career after their messy divorce.

Now, feature-length HBO Max and Sky Documentaries film Tina, which spans Tina Turner’s entire life and career, hears from the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ in her own words. There are also interviews with Angela Bassett who played Tina in the movie What's Love Got To Do With It, Oprah Winfrey, Kurt Loder — who was Tina's co-author on her autobiography I, Tina — and Tina’s husband Erwin Bach. 

Here's how to watch the documentary. And the seven biggest revelations we learn about the star, all from Tina herself, in this fascinating 120-minute no-holds-barred film.

How to watch Tina in the US

Tina drops on HBO Max on Saturday March 27. HBO Max is $14.99 a month and is available on all major streaming platforms. That means you can watch HBO Max on Roku, which is the biggest streaming platform in the United States, and you can watch HBO Max on Amazon Fire TV, which is No. 2.

How to watch Tina in the UK

Tina arrives on Sky Documentaries and Now TV on Sunday March 28.

1. Ike’s violence began when he beat Tina Turner with a shoe stretcher while she was pregnant with their son.

Tina Turner details horrific violence at the hands of Ike, including the time he beat her with a shoe stretcher, while she was expecting their son, Ronnie. "When the record [A Fool in Love] hit, I was pregnant and we were talking about the plans, how we were going to do the money thing because we had to talk about that," she says. 

"And I was unhappy about something he’d done, I think, in terms of our relationship because I was pregnant with his baby and I realised… I saw how it was going to be. And Ike decided to let me know what the arrangements would be… and he beat me with a shoe stretcher. And after that, he made me go to bed and he had sex with me… and that was the beginning of the torture."

2. Tina Tuner’s son Craig witnessed Ike scalding her with hot coffee…

Tina and Ike had four sons together, Tina’s biological children, Craig and Ronnie, and Ike’s sons, Ike Jr and Michael, who Tina ended up adopting. An interview from 2000 with Craig, who died in 2018, is featured in the documentary, where he recalls witnessing his parents’ violent marriage.

"Ike took a lot of his anger out on her. Most of the time he’d come home and he’d take her into the bedroom and close the door and there would be the screams. And we were so petrified we were in bed with the covers over our heads," he says. "One time he was striking my mother and I was young and he’d thrown some scalding hot coffee on her. At that point in time I hated that man for the rest of my life and I’ll never forget that, never."

3. Tina Turner recalls almost dying from an overdose…

Tina recalls taking an overdose of sleeping pills as the violence got worse. "When I got to work, I didn’t make it to the stage. I remember being in the car and him [Ike] sticking his finger down my throat, trying to make me throw up and finally I went unconscious," she says. At hospital, Tina had her stomach pumped, but it was touch and go whether or not she’d survive. "Then Ike came in and started talking to me and my pulse started — I was insanely afraid of that man."

4. Tina Turner was almost killed by a truck the night she left Ike…

The couple were staying in a hotel in Dallas, but after a vicious fight Tina fled across a busy freeway to the nearby Ramada Inn and almost died in the process. "The memory of that was horrendous because I was practically run over by a truck," says Tina. "I wasn’t thinking clearly of course. I felt like I was moving slow and there was a big truck, one of the really big ones coming and the horn blew and mostly what I remember is flashing lights. But the next day it was the 4th July and I’ll always remember it because that’s when I got my freedom."

5. Tina Turner never felt love from her mother…

Tina Turner’s mother, Zelma, left the family when Tina was 11 after years of violence. "For me it was interesting to think about the violence that happened before Ike because I think a lot of people don’t know that she grew up witnessing violence in her own home," says Katori Hall, writer of Tina: Tina Turner Musical.

Like Craig, Tina reveals how she also witnessed the abuse. "My mother and father, oh they fought from the very beginning, but my mother always fought back," she recalls. "My mother, she used to sit in the window of the kitchen when she was making dinner on Sundays. I used to just watch her because she was so pretty. One day, she wasn’t in that window. She was never in it again. I wanted her to come for me. And I waited, but she never did."

Mother and daughter were eventually reunited, yet the trauma of losing her mum at such an early age still runs deep and Turner believes her mother never truly loved her. "Ma was not kind," says Tina. "When I became a star of course then she was happy because I bought her a house, I did all kind of things for her. She was my mother and I was trying to make her comfortable because she was alone. But she still didn’t like me. She didn’t want me, she didn’t want to be around me, even though she wanted my success."

6. Tina Turner regrets not spending enough time with her four sons…

Tina Turner’s life on the road and in the studio meant she spent months at a time away from her four boys, something she regrets. "I didn’t spent a lot of time with them. They knew that their mother and father were either travelling or at the studio. Yeah, I suffered, but Ike didn’t. It was my pain because I wanted more time. I knew that they needed more of me, so that was something I had to deal with."

7. Tina Turner has forgiven Ike… 

Since meeting her second husband, Erwin Bach, in 1986, Tina has found peace and has even managed to forgive Ike since his death in 2007. "For a long time I really hated Ike, but after he died I realised he was a sick person, an ill person," says Tina. "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 to hold on, you can let it go. I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story, so you have to accept it."

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.