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Zurich city limits: Tina Turner’s quiet life on the lakeside

Rock legend Tina Turner found tranquility on the shores of Lake Zurich in the final decades of her life
Rock legend Tina Turner found tranquility on the shores of Lake Zurich in the final decades of her life - Copyright AFP FILIPE AMORIM
Rock legend Tina Turner found tranquility on the shores of Lake Zurich in the final decades of her life - Copyright AFP FILIPE AMORIM

Tina Turner was in her element on stage, putting on dazzling shows dominated by her full-power vocals. But offstage, the queen of rock revelled in the peace and privacy of Switzerland.

The megastar could live a relatively untroubled life in the small town of Kuesnacht, an affluent suburb of Switzerland’s biggest city Zurich spread out along the lakeside.

Many locals who came to lay flowers Thursday outside Turner’s chateau recalled seeing her in the local supermarkets — not that they would have bothered her — or bumping into her in restaurants.

Turner moved to the wealthy Alpine nation in 1995 with her longtime partner Erwin Bach, a German producer, and settled in Kuesnacht, where she lived until her death on Wednesday at the age of 83, following a long illness.

“I knew her personally, therefore you just feel sad,” Kuesnacht Mayor Markus Ernst told AFP.

“She was really very happy here. I think she really found the place where she wanted to spend the rest of her life. She was looking for quietness and privacy.

“She really fell in love with Kuesnacht.”

– Model citizen –

Turner took the place to heart — so much so, that in 2013, three months after marrying Bach and receiving her Swiss passport, Turner relinquished her US citizenship.

Swiss President Alain Berset paid tribute to a global “icon… who found a second home in Switzerland”.

In 2021, Bern university awarded her an honorary doctorate for her “unique musical and artistic life’s work”.

Turner has been hailed by Swiss media as a model Swiss citizen, noting that she had to learn German and also pass a local civics test and an interview to obtain her citizenship.

And once she had her passport, Turner went to polling stations for the frequent popular votes held in the country, known for its system of direct democracy.

-Lifeboat and festive lights –

Ernst said Kuesnacht, home to 14,000 people, was the sort of community where residents respected the rights of their most famous neighbours to lead a private life.

The mayor said Turner “felt part of this town”, and in return, “she meant a lot to us”.

Turner paid for the Christmas lights. In tribute, workmen on Thursday reaffixed them to the lampposts on the main street running past her mansion.

She also baptised the lifeboat “Tina”, which has been plying Lake Zurich for a decade.

The chateau where she was living, set back from the main road, overlooks the lake and is surrounded by immaculate grounds.

Rosanne Salazar attached a sign to the chateau gates reading “200 million records sold. Eight Grammy awards. Only one Tina Turner.”

“I’ve lived here for 10 years. We care about Tina,” the 56-year-old said.

“She had a horrific childhood with abandonment and abuse from Ike Turner but here in Switzerland she found her happy ending. Nobody bothered her here. People left her alone here. She didn’t get molested or mobbed.”

Mayor Ernst said it was not only her music but her personal strength that endeared her to her neighbours.

“A lot of people really admired her,” he said.

“We need time to get used to the thought that we lost Tina forever. But I’m sure somehow she will be forever.”

Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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