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Tina Turner Recalls the Night She Risked Her Life to Flee Her Abusive Husband—and Musical Partner—Ike

Husband and wife Ike and Tina Turner became one of the biggest acts of the ’60s with their high-octane soul revue, but behind the hits lay a vicious abusive relationship. Following years of physical and mental torment, Turner famously fled her husband in 1976 with nothing but a Mobil card and 36 cents in her pocket.

The scene was dramatized in the 1993 biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It, but Turner recently opened up about that harrowing night during an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show airing Saturday on ITV.

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“I walked out without anything and had to make it on my own for my family and everyone so I just went back to work for myself,” she told the host. “It was very difficult and dangerous because Ike was a violent person and at that point he was on drugs and very insecure. I had no money. I had no place to go.”

Turner made her escape while the pair were on tour, staying at the Statler Hilton in Dallas, Texas. “I just took a chance, I said, ‘The way out is through the door’ and while he was on one of his sleeping times, I just left the hotel, went out the kitchen way and down to the freeway.”

Sprinting across the highway is clearly dangerous at the best of times, but the darkness of night made the passage even more treacherous. “I didn’t measure the speed of a car. I was running across the freeway and this big truck was coming and it [beeped its horn]. It felt like it was over me and I thought, ‘Well, I won’t try that again.’”

Despite the immense risk, Turner, now 77, never looked back. “It was just time to not take any more. It was constantly abusive, other things going on, there was no control, there was no freedom, it was just the same this, same this and the violence.You just get fed up and you say, ‘Life is not worth living if I’m going to stay in this situation.’”

Ironically Turner — now married to Erwin Bach since 2013 — says she stayed out of loyalty to the man who rose to fame with her.

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“I stayed there as long as I did because I was trying to help. I was trying to help him from the beginning when he told me about his life and how hard it was for him to get a career going and I promised him that I would never leave him and I actually stayed because of that promise. But then it got to the point where it became really bad, really bad so it was time to go.”

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