Former Spice Girl Mel B has revealed how Tina Turner’s domestic abuse story was an inspiration to her and other victims, and how the superstar prompted her own daughter to speak publicly about surviving it.
Melanie Brown became a campaigner for victims after leaving an “abusive” relationship after coming to see Turner as a role model. Her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte has vehemently denied causing her to suffer.
Exclusively writing for The Independent, the singer once known as Scary Spice said: “I felt broken and ashamed. But I did know a woman who’d been though abuse and who had risen like a Phoenix from the ashes to become stronger and more powerful. Tina Turner.”
She added how she grew up admiring the superstar – another woman of colour – after her performance at Live Aid in 1985.
Hours before the “Queen of rock and roll” died, Mel B watched West End show Tina, about the singer’s life, and was in tears over a scene representing the devastating effects of domestic violence, she said.
It prompted her daughter Phoenix to decide to change her life and speak out, she added.
Turner, who died in Switzerland on Wednesday aged 83, overcame the violent, abusive behaviour of her husband Ike to become a chart-topping solo artist, known for songs such as “Private Dancer” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It”.
She said during years of abuse, Ike had beaten her, thrown scalding coffee at her, causing suffer third-degree burns, and brutalised her with a coathanger. She was forced to watch a brothel sex show on their wedding night and was beaten with a shoe stretcher when she was pregnant.
Mel B said that although she wasn’t a friend of Turner’s, she felt not just profoundly sad but also physically weak on hearing of her death.
As a child, she had found Turner’s performance “mesmerising”.
And she draws parallels between their lives.
“I did not know then that, after that, I would live in America, marry a man who would control me, abuse me and bring me to the brink of death,” she writes.
Her daughter, Phoenix, 23, whose father is Mel B’s first husband, Jimmy Gulzar, is a model who has created a career as an influencer and featured in one of her mother’s pop videos. Fans say they are look-alikes.
Hinting at how she came to name her daughter, the ex-Spice Girls star, who is a patron of the Women’s Aid charity, said she “did know a woman who’d been through abuse and who had risen like a Phoenix from the ashes to become stronger”.