Tina Turner Breaks Free
Anna Mae Bullock arrived in St. Louis in 1956. She was 16—the perfect age to jump into the thriving Black nightclub scene across the Mississippi. “East St. Louis had action” she would later recall. “It never seemed to stop.” Bullock became part of that action when she pushed her way onto the stage during a performance by Ike Turner’s band—immediately becoming its new lead singer.
Ike and Anna’s partnership shaped the direction of American music but also immersed Anna—renamed Tina Turner to better market the act—in a horrifying home life dominated by Ike’s physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Tina tried to build a family home with Ike and their four children, but his abuse only grew until she walked out in 1976. Tina had to restart her career but soon reemerged as one of America’s biggest music stars and set about building a happier and healthier home life.
A dress Turner wore during a 1982 appearance on The Tonight Show.
Courtesy of the Tina Turner Museum, West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center