How can Tina Turner be 80? Heaven knows, but 80 she is. Well, actually, that’s not 100% accurate. Anna Mae Bullock is 80 years old. At the time of this incendiary photoshoot, Tina Turner was technically only nine.
That’s because you could first buy yourself a “Tina Turner” record in 1960, when she recorded and released “A Fool in Love.” And yet it wasn’t until two years later that she married Ike Turner.
Born in 1939, Bullock saw Ike perform with his Kings of Rhythm in the late 1950s in her hometown of Nutbush, Tennessee, and first stood next to him at the mic in 1957. Stepping up for just one song, Ike asked her to stay on stage for the rest of the night, and she was elevated to the position of featured vocalist.
Three years later, Ike was recording a song he’d written for Art Lassiter, but Lassiter was a no-show and Anna stepped in. Ike was persuaded to send the resulting recording to the president of R&B label Sue Records. Sue bought the recording, with a stipulation — make the singer the star. Ike Turner agreed, but renamed Anna “Tina Turner.”
Why did he add his last name? Ike feared that Anna might someday quit, as previous singers had done; anchored to his name, Ike felt a sense of ownership over Anna. But Ike went further than that. He trademarked, and thus legally owned, the name “Tina Turner.” Ike reckoned that he could, if needs be, simply replace one “Tina Turner” with another.
“A Fool in Love” was a fast and big hit. Ever one for the right name, Ike established the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Tina was on lead vocalists, backed by the, er, Ikettes.
In 1966, Tina recorded “River Deep – Mountain High,” produced by Phil Spector. After the song reached #3 in the UK charts, the Ike & Tina Turner Revue was offered the opening slot on the Rolling Stones UK tour in the fall of 1966.
By 1969, that offer had extended further, and the Ike & Tina Turner Revue were opening for the Stones right across the States. But, as these pictures show, Tina was very much the star, whatever her name might be.
When she filed for divorce in 1976, Ike’s notional plans for a replacement Tina Turner were a waste of time.
Tina described their relationship as abusive in her autobiography, I, Tina. As The New York Times put it in Ike’s 2007 obituary, it “made Mr. Turner’s name synonymous with domestic abuse.”