Who was Harry Taylor? Tina Turner's high school boyfriend was her 'first' love

Who was Harry Taylor? Tina Turner's high school boyfriend was her 'first' love
Tina Turner fell in love for the first time in high school (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND: Several years before Tina Turner tied the knot with her first husband Ike Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock n Roll’ fell in love with Harry Taylor, a school basketball star, who eventually became the singer’s first love and first boyfriend. Turner mentioned Taylor in her 1986 autobiography ‘I, Tina’. Their photos from high school as well as from a high school reunion in the mid-1970s appeared on the book.

The rock legend’s memories about her first love also appeared in a 1990 article for a Dutch Magazine called Top 10. Turner also opened up about falling in love with Taylor during an interview with Oprah Winfrey for a 2005 issue of ‘O’ magazine. Over the years, Taylor also opened up about his experience of being Turner’s first love and shared fond memories he had with the singer during their high school years.


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Who was Tina Turner’s first love, Harry Taylor?

Taylor was Turner’s first love and her high school boyfriend. The former was a basketball player in the Carver High School team while Turner was a cheerleader with the rival Lauderdale High School when the duo met for the first time several decades ago.  “Harry was my first boyfriend. It was with him that I had sex for the first time. He was 18 and I was 17 years old. I had a crush on him for a long time,” Turner recalled in her interview with the Dutch magazine, the Tina Turner Blog reported.


“He was so handsome, a smooth skin and beautiful white teeth, nice lips and a wonderful body. He looked like a young god!” she remembered. “The first time he entered my classroom, I thought: ‘Wooow!’ I was totally crazy about Harry. I dreamed of him. I used to cut his photos from the school newsletter and quietly longed for more,” the singer recalled. Turner always watched when Taylor played and once asked a trainer to tell Taylor to meet her as she did not dare to ask him out herself.

However, the musician was nowhere to be found when Taylor arrived. “She noticed me first and asked one of our coaches if she could meet me. But when I went to see her, she had disappeared,” Taylor later recalled in an interview, an article on The Free Library noted. “When I saw him, my heart started beating so fast I almost fainted. It was love at first sight,” Turner remembered, as per the article.


“His skin was smooth and dark and he had beautiful, white teeth, the right size lips, the right size nose - everything was just right - and he had a great little body. He looked like a god to me. He looked over at me and I looked at him and - whooh!” the musician reportedly said while speaking of Taylor’s appearance. “To tell the truth, I wanted to go to bed with him right then and there,” she admitted.

American singer, songwriter, and actress Tina Turner performs at the Brighton Centre, Brighton, UK, 11th March 1985. (Photo by John Rogers/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
 Tina Turner performs at the Brighton Centre in March 1985. (John Rogers/Getty Images)

Turner and Taylor crossed paths again after the former joined Carver High School. The duo eventually started dating and Turner shared her first kiss with Taylor. He was also the person with whom the rock legend lost her virginity. One day, Taylor and Turner drove to town with the latter’s older sister Alline. The couple could not enter the bar Alline as they were too young and smoking and drinking were not allowed at that age.

Turner asked Taylor to watch a movie with her but the latter said there were no nice films playing in the theatres. Shortly after, the pair made love to each other for the time in the back seat of a Plymouth. “I was afraid,” Turner once recalled during an interview as per the Tina Turner Blog. “But Harry was very gentle and cautious. He did it very well. It was a beautiful moment and I have fond memories of it,” she mentioned. Taylor also remembered the special moment after several years. “Yes, we both did it for the first time. We had no experience. It was very exciting, we were so curious about how it would be,” he said.


“We had driven into town with Tina's older sister Alline and my friend John. They were supposed to be our chaperones,” Taylor explained in another interview as per The Free Library article. “We weren't old enough to go drinking and smoking so they left us in the car. Well, we started cuddling up together and that's when things began to hot up,” he shared. “We were both virgins. Despite my lack of experience, I tried to be as gentle and loving as possible. I think we both thought it was an amazing evening,” Taylor recalled.

During their time in Tennessee, Taylor and Turner often visited the movies or local ice- cream parlors. On some nights, Taylor persuaded his friend John to drive him over to Turner’s home on a farm in Nut Bush, a tiny spit of a suburb near Brownsville. “Tina and I would just sit on the porch and talk or listen to music. Because of the basketball, we saw each other the whole time. She would wear my school jacket or my ring or a basketball cap. We were quite romantic like that,” Taylor remembered.


However, Taylor soon started going out with girls until Turner caught him cheating on her. “Yes, I did cheat on her. I was caught once and, boy, did I get chewed out! Tina made me promise I wouldn't do it again and I didn't,” he recalled. After high school, Taylor joined the Air Force while Turner moved to St Louis with her mother following her parents’ separation. This marked the end of Taylor and Turner’s high school romance.

Since then the duo only met during high school reunions. While their reunion brought back old memories, their chemistry lost its spark. Taylor recalled seeing Turner once in St Louis and also in a hotel in 1962 where he was working as a waiter. “Tina was performing there with Ike. We had a chat and that's the last time I saw her.” Taylor eventually got married and settled with his wife in Illinois. He also became a father to two children and worked at a publishing firm, which produces religious Sunday School material.


At the time of Taylor’s interview, he was associated with the firm of 29 years and was happy with his life. Taylor’s current whereabouts remains unknown to the public. Meanwhile, Turner's rep revealed she died at her Zurich home on Wednesday, May 24.



‘She was always very sure of herself’

During his interview, Taylor said that while he knew Turner was talented he never expected her to become one of the biggest music stars in the world. “I knew she was talented but this I would have never expected.” Taylor said every time he sees Turner on TV, his thoughts wonder back to their evening in the back seat of the Plymouth. He then pours himself a coffee and asks his wife, “you want a biscuit with that, Mary?”

However, Taylor still appreciates Turner’s zest for life and sparky character. “She was always very sure of herself,” he shared. “She was confident from the start. If she saw something, she would go for it. She could also be a bit aggressive and speak her mind. We were very much in love and thought we would be together forever,” Taylor mentioned.  He also said that he was very proud of Turner’s success and treasures their fond memories from decades ago. “When I see her on TV, I can't believe what great shape she is in. I knew she had talent but I never expected her to become the star she is today.”



‘It was magical’

Turner opened up about Taylor in the 2005 issue of ‘O’ magazine. “When I think of Harry now, my heart beats faster. He was the most good-looking guy. Everything was in the right place—his eyes, his nose, his mouth. He was a basketball star. Sometimes I’d wear his jacket. It was fainting hot, but because it was his jacket, I wore it. It was magical,” she said at the time.


“Harry also took my virginity. I don’t regret it,” Turner stated. “I came home that night and folded the dress I’d been wearing and put it away. The next day, my grandmother was doing spring cleaning and everything got washed. When I came home, she said, ‘I knew you were running around. You’re gonna get pregnant.’ Oh, Oprah! I felt embarrassed,” the musician remembered.

“I didn’t know what to say. She didn’t wash the dress. She just left it out. There was this big spot on it. She didn’t let me go dating Harry anymore,” she shared. “At the time, I wanted to get married and have children. Harry would have been the one,” Turner said. She also revealed that she once came across Taylor’s son. “Years later, after ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It,’ I ran into his son. He came up to me and said, ‘Harry Taylor is my father.’ He looked just like Harry. I thought, ‘My God, that must have been from another lifetime,’” Turner said at the time.

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 Who was Harry Taylor? Tina Turner's high school boyfriend was her 'first' love