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How Switzerland became Tina Turner’s ‘second home’

Tina Turner died on May 24 at her home in Küsnacht, near Zurich, Switzerland. 
/ Source: TODAY

Tina Turner, also known as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” will forever be remembered for her dynamic stage presence, foot-tapping tunes and trailblazing the way for other Black female artists in the music industry. 

Although Turner’s fame began in her small hometown of Nutbush, Tennessee, her audience was across the globe. Her hit songs like “Private Dancer” and “Nutbush City Limits” made her a huge sensation in Europe and Australia.

On May 24, Turner died at her lakeside home in Switzerland at age 83 after suffering a “long illness,” her publicist Bernard Doherty said in a statement to NBC News.

Flowers laid outside the Kusnacht estate of late singer Tina Turner following the announcement of her death.Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images

As millions of people around the globe mourn the death of Turner, her fans in Switzerland are decorating her home with flowers, candles, handwritten notes and more.

In an interview with the New York Times, one neighbor described her as “very well liked” within the community surrounding her private estate in Küsnacht, near Zurich.

The municipality released a statement calling her a "proud citizen of Küsnacht" and highlighting that she will be remembered for her warmth, her "unique voice" and her beautiful Christmas lights.

Alain Berset, president of the Swiss Confederation, also shared a tribute to the rock ‘n’ roll icon on May 24.

“With Tina Turner’s death, the world has lost an icon,” a translation of the tweet reads. “Your songs and the many memories associated with them will stay with you. My thoughts are with the family of this impressive woman who has found a second home in Switzerland.”

La chanteuse américaine Tina Turner
Turner poses in Gstaad, Switzerland, in 1986.James Andanson / Getty Images

Tina Turner's life in Switzerland

Küsnacht, Switzerland, was a place for Turner to escape her reality as a well-known pop star, enjoy discretion and calmness and trade her public persona for privacy.

She first moved to England in the early ‘80s, where she furthered her career as a solo artist in the wake of her 1978 split with Ike Turner, her abusive ex-husband. According to a 1993 article in the Washington Post, her solo tracks became pop hits in Europe, and she credited signing a contract with Capitol Records to British singer David Bowie.

On "60 Minutes" in 1996, she said she was "still very much American" but added, "I don’t think I will go back home.”

The next year, she opened up about moving to Switzerland in an interview with Larry King. She said she left America “because my success was in another country and my boyfriend was in another country.”

After King countered that Turner is a “major star” in the U.S., she noted, “not as big as Madonna.”

“I’m as big as Madonna in Europe. I’m as big as, in some places, the Rolling Stones,” she said, referring to the band led by her longtime friend Mick Jagger.

She also found love with her "soul mate" outside of the U.S. In 1985, she met German music executive Edwin Bach at an airport, and the two started dating.

The outside of Tina Turner home in the wake of her death May 24.Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images

More than 10 years later, when King asked her, "Where's home?" Turner immediately answered, "Zurich," where Bach worked.

“My boyfriend moved there to run the company, and I always wanted to go to Switzerland, and I was very happy,” Turner said. 

In an article published after her death, the mayor of Küsnacht, Markus Ernst, told the Associated Press that Turner could live a private life in Switzerland.

“One of the reasons she came to Switzerland was to have a completely normal life,” he told the outlet. “She could go to restaurants without being photographed all the time … in the street, people didn’t stare at her or ask for her autograph.”

In 2013, after 20 years of living in Switzerland, Turner gave up her U.S. passport and began the process of officially becoming a Swiss citizen. She married Bach later that same year in a lavish ceremony attended by friends Oprah Winfrey and Bowie.

After that, she faced several battles with illness, including a stroke in 2013, an intestinal cancer diagnosis in 2016 and kidney failure. Bach was by her side throughout, and in 2017, he donated his kidney to his wife. 

In 2022, Turner and Bach purchased the estate she would last live in. The property on Lake Zurich, which had 10 buildings, a pond, a stream, a swimming pool and a dock, cost $76 million, according to the Associated Press.

Turner will be buried in a private funeral attended by "close friends and family," her rep Doherty said in a statement.