Tina Turner Once Shared How She Made Peace With Her Mother Who Never Believed In Her

Tina Turner survived a lot of hardship to become the rock legend she is. Turner shared many of her struggles in the book I, Tina, which inspired the movie What’s Love Got to Do With It?, and the recent Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Turner’s abusive marriage to her musical partner, Ike Turner, gets a lot of the attention, but her mother, Zelma Bullock, was a source of friction too. Fortunately, she achieved a bit of resolution with her mother. 

Turner once shared the story of making peace with her mother in a 2018 episode of the Super Soul podcast. Oprah Winfrey asked Turner if she made peace with her mother, who died in 1999.

Tina Tuner: Zelma Bullok ‘never believed in me’

Turner spoke matter of factly about Bullock’s attitude towards her. 

“She never believed in me,” Turner told Winfery. “She never wanted this child and when this child grew up to be successful and creative, she didn’t accept it because it was something she didn’t want. Why would she want it? Maybe jealousy. Is there such a thing as a mother’s jealousy? I don’t know. Obviously that must’ve been the case because it never went away.”

No matter how much success Turner achieved, she said her mother never gave her credit for it. At first, Bullock would credit Turner’s partners. 

“When I was with Ike she thought it was Ike,” Turner said. “When I left Ike and went to Roger [Davies], she thought it was Roger. It was Ma’s sickness. She would say, ‘You’re my daughter. I know you didn’t do it.’ She didn’t see that I had any kind of creativity. She just saw that I could sing and dance and that’s all. That was Ma’s mentality.” 

Tina Turner stood up to Zelma Bullock once 

Even when Turner went solo and sold out tours, Bullock wouldn’t give her credit. Bullock was visiting Turner in the South of France once, with Turner’s sister Alline and son Craig, and still hadn’t changed. 

“I sent for her to come to Europe,” Turner said. “And actually whilte she was there, she was arguing with Alline about something, my sister, and I corrected her. I said, ‘Mom, why are you always arguing with Alline? I told you I would get you nurses. I’ve gotten you nurses. You didn’t want them. You always say you want Alline and you argue.’ I said, ‘Your bible is not helping you.’”

Bullock held a grudge to the next day, but Turner stood firm. 

The next day, she was at the breakfast, didn’t comb her hair, her hair was standing up on her head like Don King. I thought, ‘Good morning, Zelma. What’s wrong with you today?’ ‘Nobody talks to me about my bible.’ I said, ‘Uh huh, well, what upset you?’ ‘You came last night telling me my bible is not doing…’ I said, ‘Okay, Mom, if you feel that way, you can get yourself dressed and I will pack your thins ang you should go home because I don’t live like that anymore. I live a happy life here and you bring in all this negative energy.’ There she sat there and realized I really would have sent her home. Of course Alline and Craig were standing there looking like, ‘Oh, I’m not ready to go home yet. Mom, please be nice.’” 

She was still a dutiful daughter to the end of Zelma Bullock’s life

As Bullok’s health declined, Turner still cared for her and did not hold a grudge.

“After that, she cooled her heels so to speak,” Turner said. “I think the two times she was sick, I flew in to see her. I just kind of saw that she wasn’t aboard water. She didn’t realize that I wasn’t a favorite of hers or she didn’t acct it. Maybe that’s why she took sides with Ike. I just figured that was her mentality because he had money. She always felt you should get someone who could do something for you. I think she felt Ike could do something for me and that I had left him. I think that was her attitude. You put a lot of thought into these things when you get older.”

Source: Super Soul podcast

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