Tina Turner was a mom to four sons, including two she adopted from previous relationships
International superstar, singer and mother of four, Tina Turner, a.k.a. the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, first became a mom at the age of 18.
The music legend, who died in May 2023 at the age of 83 after a "long illness," welcomed her first son, Raymond Craig, with Kings of Rhythm saxophonist Raymond Hill in August 1958. He was later adopted by Tina's first husband Ike Turner Sr., to whom she was wed from 1962 to 1978, and changed his name to Craig Raymond Turner.
Tina also adopted Ike's two sons, Ike Jr. and Michael, from his previous relationship with Lorraine Taylor. The "Proud Mary" singer and Ike welcomed their first and only child together, son Ronnie Turner, in October 1960.
In her 2018 memoir My Love Story: Tina Turner, the mom-of-four opened up about her ex-husband's "brutality" and admitted that the children heard their "endless fighting."
"I knew it would make an impression on them, and it did," she explained, adding, "We were scarred in different ways by Ike's behavior."
The 2021 HBO documentary Tina included an interview with Craig from 2000. "She really took to raising us personally because basically that was her happiness to a certain extent," he said.
Though the "Private Dancer" singer was often on the road, she ran a tight ship at home. "My mother was no joke," Ike Jr. shared on The Bobby Eaton Show in 2017, adding that the Mad Max star was "extremely strict." Craig shared similar sentiments in 2000, saying: "We had to do our chores, we had to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time."
In 1985, Tina began dating her future husband, Erwin Bach, later moving to Switzerland in 1995 to be with him. In her 1986 autobiography I, Tina, she wrote that she had become "a little bit estranged" from most of her children, except for Craig. By October 1989, she had also cut her children off financially, telling Australia's TV Week of her decision, "I'm still there for the boys, but I'm not going to let them use me."
After Craig’s death, Tina spread his ashes off the coast of California, and called her final goodbye her "saddest moment as a mother."
"He was 59 when he died so tragically, but he will always be my baby," Tina added in a Twitter tribute to her son.
Here is everything to know about Tina Turner's four children: Craig, Ike Jr., Michael and Ronnie.
Craig Raymond Turner
Craig Raymond Turner was born to Tina and saxophonist Raymond Hill on Aug. 29, 1958. Hill had moved from St. Louis, where he and Tina were playing with Ike Sr. in Kings of Rhythm, back to his hometown in Mississippi before his son's birth. Craig was later adopted by Ike Sr. when he married Tina. Hill died in April 1996 of congestive heart failure; Ike Sr. died of a cocaine overdose in December 2007.
In 2005, Tina told O, The Oprah Magazine that Craig was a "very emotional kid" who reacted morosely to his parents' abusive marriage. "He'd always look down in sadness," she told Oprah Winfrey of her son.
By the time Tina left Ike in 1976, Craig had already graduated from high school. In 2018, Tina shared on Oprah's Super Soul that her oldest child served in the Navy and later became a real estate agent.
On July 3, 2018, PEOPLE confirmed that Craig had died by suicide at the age of 59.
Later that month, Tina spread Craig's ashes in the ocean. "On Thursday, July 19 2018, I said my final goodbye to my son, Craig Raymond Turner, when I gathered with family and friends to scatter his ashes off the coast of California," she wrote on Twitter. "He was fifty-nine when he died so tragically, but he will always be my baby."
The singer told BBC News in October 2018, "I still don't know what took him to the edge." She noted that Craig, who lived in Los Angeles, had recently started a new job in real estate and had a new girlfriend that he planned to introduce to his mother. "At that stage, he had said to me that he had never met a woman that he felt that way about," Tina said.
She later told Gayle King that she believed solitude played a role in her son's death. "I think Craig was lonely, that's what I think really got him more than anything else," she said.
Tina also reflected on her last conversations with her son on Oprah's Super Soul. "First of all, I didn't believe it, because me and Craig's last talks were, 'Mother, I'm so happy, I'm really happy now,' " she told Winfrey. "The very last [conversation], he said, 'Hi Mother, I just want to hear your voice and that laugh.' That one stuck out because he had never said that. I think that was his goodbye to me."
After his death, Tina tried to focus on the good parts of Craig's life. "I have pictures all around of him smiling, and I think I'm sensing that he's in a good place," she said to King.
Tina echoed that sentiment while speaking to Winfrey. "I want to bring out the good parts and parts that he enjoyed in the life," she shared.
Ike Turner Jr.
Born to Ike Sr. and Lorraine Taylor in 1958, Ike Turner Jr. was adopted by Tina early in life. "Tina raised me from the age of 2. She's the only mother I've ever known," he told the Mail on Sunday.
According to Ike Jr., who is also a musician, Tina also had a hand in helping him to select his instruments of choice. "My first instrument was drums, until my mother started making me break my drums down every day, so the piano was always there," he told Bobby Eaton in 2017. "So I started playing piano. I play guitar and bass. Everything except horn."
Ike Jr. told the Mail that his father took him out of school at 13 to tour with him. "I ended up running his recording studio, plus going on the road with them," he said.
He briefly worked as Tina's sound engineer following her split from Ike Sr., who wanted his son and ex to put an end to their professional relationship. "When my mother and father separated, he did not want me working with her — and he beat me in the head with a nickel-plated .45 pistol," Ike Jr. alleged.
Ike Jr.'s musicianship ultimately earned him a Grammy for best traditional blues album with his father. "I got a Grammy for Risin' with the Blues, I produced an album of my [father's], and my second Grammy, I started another category, an album produced and engineered by the same person," he told Eaton.
By 1985, he had fallen out of touch with Tina. "I know she's busy, but I don't know why she hasn't called. I love her, she brought me up, she's my mother," he told Spin that year. "It kind of feels like she's neglecting us, at least us three, me, Michael and Ronnie."
In 2018, Ike Jr. said he hadn't spoken to Tina in over a decade. "I haven't talked to my mother since God knows when — probably around 2000," he told the Mail. "My mother is living her life — she has a new husband and she's in Europe. She doesn't want to have anything to do with the past."
Ike Jr. plays in a tribute band called The Love Thang; they released the song "Yes To Life" with singer Sweet Randi Love in 2022. "All I try to do is do the right thing with the name," he told the Mail. "I go out there and do my best."
In May 2023, Ike Jr. was arrested and charged with crack cocaine possession and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to jail 18 days before Tina died. According to Capt. Q.T. Arendell of the Alvin Police Dept., Ike Jr. was pulled over for an equipment violation and then "tried to eat the drugs before the officers could seize them."
Born in 1959 to Ike Sr. and Lorraine Taylor, Michael Turner was adopted by Tina before her split from Ike in 1978.
Michael struggled in the wake of their divorce. "Michael wanted my mother and father to get back together, and the next thing knew he was in the hospital," Ike Jr., who shares a close relationship with his younger brother, told Spin in 1985. "He was hurt by their being apart."
Michael also reportedly dealt with addiction as an adult. "I know in my heart if I called Tina or my father, Ike, right now they would come and help me but I just can't do it," he reportedly told the Sunday Mercury. "Tina was really good to me and I love her but I can't live with anybody. I gotta be free to do what I want to do."
Ike Jr. told Bobby Eaton in 2017 that Michael was using a wheelchair and had had "several strokes and seizures."
He also gave an update on his sibling to the Mail on Sunday in 2018. "Michael is in a convalescent home in Southern California and needs medical support," he shared. "I've been to see him quite a few times. He's doing great."
Ike Jr. noted that his mother had not visited Michael, but she did support him financially.
Ronald "Ronnie" Turner
Tina and Ike Sr. welcomed Ronnie Turner, their only son together, in L.A. on Oct. 27, 1960.
The singer told TV Week in 1989 that her youngest son was given plenty of opportunities as a young man. "He was put through private schools and given allowances and clothes and everything you can give a kid," she said. "But Ronnie was determined to be self-destructive. You have to draw the line. I keep an eye on him."
As a young adult, Ronnie reportedly ran into legal issues. "California wasn't good for him; he was very influenced by drugs and didn't want to go back there because of that reason," Tina told Rolling Stone in 1986. "I cut him off financially, but I always had a string to find out what was going on and to get money there to help him if he needed it. Finally, he's on his own two feet."
By 1997, Tina told Larry King that her kids were doing much better. "There were a few problems with drugs with the youngest [son, Ronnie]," she said. "They're [doing] fine."
On the career front, Ronnie followed in his parents' musical footsteps, playing bass in a group called the Manufactured Funk. He also had a cameo in his parents' 1993 biopic What's Love Got to Do with It.
Ronnie reportedly had two children by 2000. He found love later in life, marrying French singer Afida Turner (née Hafidda Messaï) in March 2007 at the age of 46.
He died of colon cancer on Dec. 8, 2022, at the age of 62. One day later, Tina shared a tribute to her youngest son on Instagram. "Ronnie, you left the world far too early," she wrote. "In sorrow I close my eyes and think of you. My beloved son."
Afida also shared a tribute to her late husband, writing that Ronnie was "a true angel, huge soul" and her "best friend."
In July 2023, Afida opened up about her grief after Ronnie and Tina's deaths. "I'm still very depressed and thinking about very bad, dark, bad stuff," she told PEOPLE.
Still, the singer is trying to move forward and has even made plans to have Ronnie's baby, using sperm he froze before his death. "It's still bad because he's not here, but what can I do?" she asked. "At least I will have a little one that looks like Ronnie. A monster like me and him, can you imagine?"
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