Tina Turner Credited David Bowie for Saving Her Career After 'Abusive' Marriage to Ike Turner
Turner — who was often called the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll — died at the age of 83 on Wednesday
The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll had a special place in her heart for David Bowie.
Tina Turner — who died Wednesday at the age of 83 — credited Bowie, who died in 2016, for saving and rebooting her career.
After finding success with Ike Turner, whom she wed and then divorced, as the Ike & Tina Turner Revue for much of the 1960s and '70s, Tina found herself at a loss in the years following her and Ike’s headline-making divorce in 1976.
In her 2018 memoir, Turner opened up about enduring brutal acts of physical and psychological abuse by her then-husband throughout their years as a duo.
Before she stepped out and launched what would become one of the most successful careers of the ‘70s — she reinvented herself as a star of the MTV age, with hits like "What's Love Got to Do with It," "The Best" and "Private Dancer" — she had to land a new record label contract.
After her and Ike's public separation in 1976, she had been dropped by her label, Capitol Records, and took a brief hiatus from music. In 2004, she revealed in conversation with UK outlet Female First that she was able to get back on her feet because of the help fellow musician Bowie offered.
"In 1983 David Bowie did something very special and significant for me," Turner said. "We were on the same label, but the decision had been taken not to re-sign me. David, however, had just had his contract renewed by Capitol, who wanted to take him out to dinner that night in New York to celebrate. 'I'm sorry,' he told them, 'but I'm going to the Ritz to see my favorite singer perform.' And that was me."
It was only after Bowie's refusal that the record label "bigwig tagged along" to see Turner perform — and the rest was history.
"Luckily it was a great show. Seeing it and the crowd's reaction turned 'round how Capitol [Records] viewed me," she continued.
"It was because of David that I got another deal, and everything else followed. I'll be ever thankful to him."
In the years that followed Tina's career resurgence, she and Bowie collaborated just once — though she gave the musician a nod on her first album released after she re-signed with Capitol Records.
On her fifth solo album, Private Dancer (1984), which propelled her into superstardom as a solo act, Tina included one of Bowie's hits — "1984," a song off his 1974 album Diamond Dogs.
The pair later collaborated for the first and only time, releasing a duet of Bowie's 1984 song "Tonight" — the titular track of his 16th studio album.
A live version of the duet went on to appear on Tina's 1988 live album, Tina Live in Europe.
Related: Tina Turner's Life in Photos
When Tina first met her soon-to-be husband Ike, she was just 17 years old. She joined his band, Kings of Rhythm, who played on the St. Louis club circuit, and after a fling with the saxophonist, her relationship with Ike turned romantic.
Their relationship, though, was marred by Ike’s greed. "My relationship with Ike was doomed the day he figured out I was going to be his money-maker," Tina wrote in her memoir My Love Story. "He needed to control me, economically and psychologically, so I could never leave him."
It was soon after he realized her monetary potential — the band's first studio recording with her netted $25,000 — that he gave her the moniker that she'd carry for the rest of her career. She was born Anna Mae Bullock, but Ike gave her the moniker "Tina Turner" — and it stuck.
Related: David Bowie's Lifelong Friend Revisits '70s Adventures with Rocker in Rare and Never-Before-Seen Photos
The marriage was "defined by abuse and fear, not love, or even affection," she wrote in the memoir.
In 1976, she fled Ike with no money to her name, and soon — with Bowie's help — rebuilt her career, launching what would become one of the biggest careers in music history.
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In an interview from her HBO documentary, Tina, released in March 2021, she said, "I had an abusive life. There’s no other way to tell the story."
She added, "I started really seeing that I had to make a change. Divorce, I got nothing. No money, no house. So I said, I'll just take my name."
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