The much-anticipated Tina Turner HBO documentary Tina is finally here. Though fans have various renditions of her life story (the Angela Bassett-staring biopic What's Love Got to Do With It, the Broadway musical Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, and Tina's own autobiography I, Tina), the new documentary captures her ability to reclaim her life and career in a way that's especially powerful, inspiring, and sometimes painful to watch.
Following Tina after she walks away from her abusive relationship, we see how she strives to re-invent herself. Ending her marriage with only her name, Tina successfully becomes one of the greatest musicians in rock and roll history. This is all thanks to her grit and determination. It's also thanks to one person who stood by her side from the very beginning: her assistant and friend, Rhonda Graam.
Who was Rhonda Graam?
Rhonda Graam was a huge fan of Tina's back in the '60s when Tina was still performing with former husband Ike Turner. She was eventually hired as her assistant in 1964, and stayed on to work for Tina after the musician and Ike got divorced. From 1976 to 1983 Rhonda worked as Tina's road manager, and once Tina slowed down, she took on the role as personal assistant.
The two had a strong relationship, and became friends outside of work. Rhonda was Tina's maid of honor when she married Erwin Bach in 2013.
According to the Tina Turner Blog, Rhonda was "Always present in the back of Tina whenever she was working, she was a devoted assistant and a faithful confidant who saw and knew everything," and is described as "an invisible pillar to Tina’s career, someone she could always rely on without worries."
People may not know, but Rhonda actually wrote the song "Doo Wah Ditty (Got to Get Ta), which was released in 1972. When describing her relationship with Tina, Rhonda stated in an interview, “It was more like family to me. I mean, her mother used to call me her other daughter. We were that close and still is.”
Not much else is known about Rhonda Graam's life. Some fans may be curious about who Rhonda Graam may have been married to, or what her net worth accumulated to after so many years of working for a musical icon, but Rhonda was extremely private. She didn't have social media accounts, nor did she give too many interviews. To this day, we basically know her as the woman who was there for Tina through thick and through thin. Watch her talk about Tina's triumphs below.
Rhonda Graam's death: She passed away in early 2021.
On Jan. 15, Tina announced that her long-time friend and personal assistant, Rhonda Graam, had passed away.
"I am heartbroken. Rhonda was my dear friend and confidant. She believed in me before anyone else did and I will sorely miss her kind heart, humor and wise counsel. I will forever cherish her friendship. Rest in Peace," Tina wrote on social media.
To this day, the cause of death is not known. Rhonda was 77 years old when she died.
Stream Tina on HBO Max now.