Tina Turner loved Europe, renounced American citizenship

LONDON — Born in Tennessee, Tina Turner is revered the world over as America’s queen of rock ‘n’ roll. But for Turner, Europe was where she reached new levels of fame and happiness after a tumultuous life in the United States and a first marriage.

Switzerland was where Turner, who renounced her US citizenship in 2013, finally called home.

“With the death of Tina Turner, the world has lost an icon,” said Swiss President Alain Berset tweeted Wednesday after the star’s passing at the age of 83. He called the singer, who has lived in Switzerland since 1995, an “impressive woman who found a second home” in the country.

Tina Turner fans lit candles and laid flowers in front of the singer’s home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, on May 24 after news broke that Turner had passed away. (Video: Reuters)

On Thursday, roses and candles were placed outside the gates of Turner’s home in Küsnacht on the Gold Coast of Lake Zurich. “You’re simply the best,” read a handwritten tribute to the singer, a nod to one of her most famous songs.

Turner was “a proud citizen of Küsnacht,” the municipality said in a statement, adding that she touched many with her “warmth and modesty.” According to the statement, Turner had sponsored a lifeboat named “TINA” and donated Christmas lights.

“She became more or less European,” British music journalist Lloyd Bradley said in an emailed comment on Thursday, adding that this helped her maintain her success in Europe. “British crowds at least seemed to regard her as ‘one of us’.”

In an interview with In 1997 on CNN’s Larry King, Turner described why she had left her life in the United States behind. “Actually, Europe has been very supportive of my music,” she said. “Private Dancer was the beginning of my success in England,” she said of her fifth solo studio album, which was recorded in London and released in 1984, eventually going multi-platinum.

Tina Turner sang past her pain

When asked by King if Europe had supported her more than America, Turner answered “Yes” with a smile. “Yes, huge.”

‘But you’re a big star here; you’re a superstar in America,” said King, before Turner replied, “Not as big as Madonna. I am as big as Madonna in Europe.”

Even when Turner was part of a musical duo with her abusive husband Ike, she found another level of appreciation in Europe. While most of Ike and Tina Turner’s hits remained on the R&B circuit in the United States, their songs found mainstream success in England, “which has a long history of appreciating black American musical styles,” The Washington Post previously reported. The Rolling Stones opened for Ike and Tina on their first UK tour in 1965.

Turner’s time in England also played an important role after she split from Ike in 1976 and made a name for herself as a solo artist.

“It was a smart move on her part when she couldn’t buy a hit in the US in the late 1970s and was pretty much relegated to cabaret, she took on Australian management who had strong connections in Europe,” said Bradley.

“The live work she got there allowed her to escape the ‘nostalgia tag’ and reinvent herself with the help of Marsh & Ware, quintessential British/Euro electronic music wizards. …Interestingly, this sound was big in the US and allowed her to sell herself back to her home country as a very modern rock star.

Turner also credits British star David Bowie for ensuring she was signed to Capitol Records. Bowie had told company officials he was going to see his favorite singer, “so they all came over and voilá – there I was on stage. They just signed me because of David,” she told The Post in a 1993 interview.

Turner also elaborated on how she achieved greater success in Europe in a 1996 interview with “60 Minutes”. “Europe is different.”

Turner told “60 Minutes” that many people outside of Europe were stunned when she explained that she was an even bigger star in Europe than she was in the United States. “No one in America knows that. I mean, people are always shocked when I explain it,” she said.

With more concert tickets sold than any other solo artist in music history, Turner has performed countless times across the continent, from London to Paris, Berlin to Prague, to adoring fans. “She was a true female rock legend and … so few of them are European, even European adoptees like Tina and Chrissie Hynde,” Bradley said.

Greg Rose, a British fan who loved the singer so much he had a Tina Turner-themed 30th birthday party, wrote on Facebook that the singer had “plastered” his bedroom walls since he was a teenager and that he had seen her over 70. times in consultation.

Bruno Garcez, a Brazilian journalist living in London, said his fascination with Turner started when he was a teenager. The 50-year-old said he still finds her inspiring. “Her life story encapsulates the concept of resilience, strength and overcoming. It’s unbelievable what she’s been through,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

In addition to her career success, Europe was also important to Turner in another way – because it was there that she met her future husband, German music director Erwin Bach. The two met in 1985 and were together for almost 40 years, getting married in 2013. They lived together in Germany and then Switzerland.

On social media, many praised Turner’s decision to leave American soil and settle in Europe as an inspiration.

US-born writer Joy C. Mitchell, who lives in Europe, said Wednesday that Turner was “one of the first black American women” she saw move to Europe and find “career success and love.” Turner “was, in a sense, the blueprint,” Mitchell wrote. “I always imagined running into her when I was in Switzerland and thanking her.”

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