Inside the quiet life of Tina Turner in Switzerland
Around the world, Tina Turner, who died Wednesday at 83, was known for her music, her powerful stage presence and her smashing career. But in the Swiss town where she lived for nearly three decades, she was known for living a low-key life — running her own errands, queuing at the post office and exercising outdoors.
Outside the house where the rock star lived with her husband, Erwin Bach, and where neighbors gathered to light candles and tell stories on Wednesday evening, a polished bronze sign asks (in English and German) visitors not to ring the doorbell before noon.
After a life in the public eye, Ms. Turner moved to the sleepy town of Küsnacht, Switzerland, with Mr. Bach, a German music manager whom she began dating in the 1980s. got a job running the Swiss offices of EMI Music in Zurich, and the two moved to the Alpine country. They married in 2013, the year she acquired Swiss citizenship and gave up her US passport.
Mrs. Turner and Mr. Bach lived in a classic white peaked-roofed mansion on the shores of Lake Zurich.
“He was a cheerful, very open and generous person,” said Severin Silvestri, 30, manager of Rico’s, an upscale restaurant just up the street. Years ago, when she was in better health, Ms. Turner and Mr. Bach occasionally ate at the Michelin-starred restaurant. Mr Silvestri, who once served Ms Turner, said she did not catch air. “She was completely down to earth,” he said.
In addition to her international music career, her Swiss home has celebrated her for the public Christmas light display (illuminated golden wreaths) she donated to the city on her 75th birthday in 2014 and for the lifeboat “Tina” which she named this year.
Neighbors said they were aware of Ms Turner’s fame but did not bother her when they saw her in public, which had been less and less the case in recent years as she struggled with his health.
“She seems to have lived a relatively normal life and seems to have enjoyed it,” said Oliver Moritz, 46, manager of a hotel several hundred yards from the lake, noting that she was the kind of person that you meet while shopping. .
Roland Roller Frei, 57, a Swiss music producer who worked with her on and off for more than a decade, said it was this normal life, indifferent to fans, that seemed to draw Ms Turner to a life in Switzerland .
“I think it was important for her to find a place where she would be left alone,” he said, adding, “I think she appreciated the fact that she was not being harassed by the fans every day, but that she could enjoy her retirement in peace.”
The town’s mayor, Markus Ernst, 50, said some residents had become so used to her presence that they had forgotten how important she was outside Küsnacht. “We became fully aware of her global stardom in 2013 when she got married and when camera crews descended on us from all over the world,” he said.
Mr Ernst, who says he listened to Ms Turner’s music as a teenager on tapes and records, said meeting her in real life was very special. “She had an amazing aura, was very approachable and interacted with you in such a positive way,” he said.
And she also gave back to her community. “She was a great ambassador for our community, and she did it completely voluntarily,” Ernst said, referring to Ms Turner’s habit of praising Switzerland and Küsnacht to the media.
“With the death of Tina Turner, the world has lost an icon,” said Swiss President Alain Berset. posted on Twitter Wednesday, adding: “My thoughts are with the loved ones of this impressive woman who has found a second home in Switzerland.”
According to Ms. Turner, one aspect of Swiss life was particularly important. “I have to say the priority is fresh air – it’s clean and I really feel like I’m breathing fresh air,” she told a Swiss journalist in 2014. She also noted that she felt safe enough in the country to go out in public without safety.
When asked during this interview if there was anything about life in Switzerland that she didn’t like, she replied: “There is absolutely nothing that I don’t like, because I discovered that I liked everything before giving the passport,” she says, referring to her American citizenship.
To obtain Swiss citizenship, Ms Turner had to show her ability to speak German, which she admitted took time and effort to learn.
At a vigil at Ms Turner’s house on Wednesday night, neighbors shared ordinary stories about the extraordinary woman next door. A man told how Mrs Turner offered coffee to people working in her home and even poured it herself. Another spoke of meeting her at the post office.
“It’s sad that we lost her,” a resident told local media. After a pause, he added: “Not just Küsnacht, but the whole world.”