Published 8:21 AM EDT Oct 16, 2018
Tina Turner fans always knew the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll was a survivor.
But Turner's new memoir, "My Love Story" (Atria, 272 pp., ★★★ out of four), reveals the full extent of the harrowing ordeals the 78-year-old singer has overcome in her decades in the spotlight.
From new details about her abusive marriage to Ike Turner to previously undisclosed recent health issues that nearly killed her, "My Love Story" is full of revelations that illustrate Turner's iron will and perseverance over seemingly impossible obstacles.
Here are five newsworthy revelations from "My Love Story":
1. She attempted suicide while married to Ike.
The first half of "My Love Story" is dominated by a relationship that's quite the opposite of Turner's book title – her physically, mentally and sexually abusive marriage to Ike Turner.
"He threw hot coffee in my face, giving me third-degree burns," she writes. "He used my nose as a punching bag so many times that I could taste blood running down my throat when I sang. He broke my jaw. And I couldn't remember what it was like not to have a black eye."
At one of her most desperate moments, Turner says she tried to kill herself during one of her and Ike's many tours, taking 50 sleeping pills one night before a show. She survived, recalling how she woke up in a hospital bed with Ike in her face, telling her, "You should die, (expletive)."
And yet, her suicide attempt "wasn't a cry for help," she says. "When I took those pills, I chose death, and I chose it honestly. I was unhappy when I woke up."
2. Ike forced her to go to a brothel on their wedding night in 1962.
Among the near-countless abuses and humiliations of Tina and Ike's marriage, one of the first she describes is her wedding night. Ike took Tina to Tijuana, Mexico, for a quickie ceremony, a plan she reluctantly accepted, explaining, "(Arguing) would just make him mad, and that might lead to a beating. I definitely didn't want a black eye on my wedding day."
To make matters worse, Ike decided that the newlyweds would spend their wedding night at a brothel. "People can't imagine the kind of man he was – a man who takes his brand-new wife to a live, pornographic sex show right after their marriage ceremony," Turner writes. "What was on display was more gynecological than erotic. ... I was miserable the whole time, on the verge of tears, but there was no escape."
3. Ike's goons shot up Tina's house after she left him.
After Turner finally left Ike in July 1976 (she escaped a Dallas hotel while they were on tour after a brutal fight), she says Ike would send his "stooges" to intimidate her when she filed for divorce.
Turner describes signing up for food stamps while living with her four sons and her longtime assistant and friend Rhonda Graam in a small house in Laurel Canyon after filing divorce papers, a period in which Tina Turner says Ike sent his associates to intimidate her by destroying the house and its property.
"One night ... we heard this loud 'bang, bang, bang' coming from outside. When we looked, we saw that the back window of Rhonda's car had been blown out with bullets," she writes. "Another night, they actually shot into the house. We were so scared that Rhonda slept in the boys' room and I slept in the closet because the room had a skylight and I was afraid there would be more shooting."
4. Tina had a stroke and a secret kidney transplant.
Fast forward four decades, and Turner is a world-renowned pop star who has just married the man she considers the real love of her life, German music producer Erwin Bach, after 27 years together.
The couple's just-married bliss was interrupted three months after their wedding when Turner suffered a stroke. After denying media reports about the stroke, Turner would learn in short order that she had both kidney failure and vertigo.
After undergoing excruciating-yet-successful vertigo treatments and beginning to stabilize her kidneys, Turner began experiencing chronic diarrhea and was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in January 2016.
Turner's doctors treated her cancer by removing part of her intestine, but her kidneys worsened, to the point where she signed up for an assisted suicide program. But then Bach decided to give her one of his kidneys, and a successful transplant occurred in April 2017.
"My body keeps trying to reject the new kidney, which is not uncommon after a transplant," Turner writes about ongoing health issues. "Sometimes, the treatment involves spending more time in the hospital, and it comes with some unpleasant side effects, including dizziness, forgetfulness, anxiety and the occasional bout of insane diarrhea."
5. Tina reveals the last conversation she had with her son, Craig.
Turner suffered another painful blow this year when her eldest son, Craig, committed suicide at age 59 on July 3.
(Craig was found dead in his Los Angeles-area home. The county coroner's office told USA TODAY that the preliminary cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.)
Turner recalls their final phone conversation in late June; he was in L.A. and she was in Zurich, where she lives. "Mother, I'm really happy," Turner recalls her son saying, describing a new relationship, before thanking her. "You know you give me courage. You give me really good advice."
Several weeks later, Turner and Bach received the news of Craig's suicide while celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary in Paris. "Craig was a troubled soul," Turner writes.
"I can still see him as a little boy, no more than two or three, wanting so badly to sit with me when I came home from a tour, but being told by Ike to go to his room. (Editor's note: Craig's father was Kings of Rhythm saxophonist Raymond Hill, but he was adopted as a child by Ike Turner.) I'm sure in his little mind he didn't have any words to explain how much he wanted his mother ... it wasn't my choice."
Turner writes that she planned a private service in Los Angeles to remember Craig and kept some of her most beloved possessions of his – to build a little shrine in her home to honor and remember him.
More: Tina Turner scatters son Craig's ashes in the Pacific: 'He will always be my baby'