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Switzerland Pays Tribute to Tina Turner

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I never knew that Tina Turner was living in Switzerland until she died. During the 1980s, when I was stationed in Milan with DEA, I had many occasions to work with the drug police in Zurich. So I am also familiar with Kuesnacht.

The Swiss media is covering the death of Tina Turner as a major news story. In addition, many fans have swarmed to her estate in Kuesnacht to pay tribute to Turner. She resided in that small municipality outside Zurich for 26 years. She was quite popular and respected.

As one who grew up with Tina’s music, I felt compelled to cover the Swiss media reporting. I found this one from a small local newspaper (Zurich-See Zeitung) quite moving, and I thought I should translate it.

Note: In referring to Kuesnacht and Staefa, I have chosen to take the easy way and omit the umlauts. Adding an “e” to the vowel in question is also acceptable in German.

After the death of the rock star

Touching scenes play out in front of Tina Turner’s villa

Dozens of fans and media representatives have gathered in front of Tina Turner’s residence in Kuesnacht. Several of her admirers shed tears at the scene.

Caption: Many members of the population make their way to Château Algonquin to show their last respects to Tina Turner.

Photo: Manuela Matt

On the day after Tina Turner’s death, the traffic rolls up to the property in Kuesnacht, where the singer lived for 26 years. Many of the motorists not only want to get a view of the driveway. They want to capture what is happening in front of the gate of Château Algonquin with their cell phones.

Every few minutes, fans and admirers show up in front of the huge wrought-iron gate of the villa to say goodbye to the singer and express their appreciation for her. They lay flowers in the driveway, light candles or incense sticks, and deposit cards and pieces of paper with words of farewell. Many appear thoughtful and depressed, and some cry. By 10 am, a small sea of flowers lies along the wall.

Visitors from Israel

Many visitors come from Kuesnacht itself, others are from Meilen, Oetwil, Zollikon, or Zurich-on foot by car, train, or bicycle. Among those present, there are also people from abroad. Eduard Lobez lives in Israel and is presently visiting a Swiss friend. “Her story was amazing,” he says of Tina Turner’s life.

Caption: Many also use the moment for a photo shoot in front of the estate of the deceased star:

Photo: Manuela Matt

The grieving fans are met by about two dozen media representatives. They have traveled from all over Switzerland and neighboring countries and, in some cases, flat-out mob the fans in the hope of eliciting some sort of statement from them. 

Guia Greaves from Meilen tells how beautiful she always felt, “knowing that Tina Turner lived here. She was a part of our area.” The singer had enormous competence and power and was at the same time very modest. So it was quite normal in earlier years to be able to meet her while shopping. Greaves was especially impressed that Turner, despite bad experiences in her first marriage, never showed hate or resentment. “There are people who are inspiring. Tina Turner was one of them.”

Songs give strength

Inspiration is a word that is repeated over and over this morning. Many women and men emphasize that the music, as well as the singer’s life story, motivated and inspired them.

Same with Lydia Unholz from Erlenbach. In front of Tina Turner’s estate, she is overcome with her feelings. “Her music accompanied me my whole life,” she says in tears. In times things didn’t go so well for her, the songs would give her strength. “I honor the singer as a strong woman who through her history was able to help many people.”

Caption: Lots of traffic on Seestrasse (Street) and a large gathering of people. On Thursday, there is a lot of activity in front of Château Algonquin.

Photo: Manuela Matt 

Physiotherapist Zelimir Djordjevic made his way from Zurich to Kuesnacht in between two therapies in order to say goodbye to the singer. “It impresses me that despite her fame, she remained normal.” Smiling, he tells how earlier, he often saw Turner eating bratwurst at the Zurich Sternen Grill. “She had no airs.” 

Many of the visitors want to know when the star’s funeral will take place. Like a young Ukrainian woman who came with her young daughter, “to express her respect”, as she says via a translation app. Silent and with tears in her eyes, she lays a bouquet of red roses in front of the Château Algonquin.

Great loss

Many fans praise the Kuesnacht resident as a great artist, whose music they grew up with. Manuela Heyne from Oetwil agrees. “Her death is a great loss,” she says. “When a song by Tina Turner comes on the radio, I always turn the volume up.”

Meanwhile, someone is playing the songs of the rock legend in front of the villa in Kuesnacht. Passing motorists slow down in front of the driveway and let the sounds of the megahit, “Simply the best”  ring out from their radio.

 One topic of conversation on the day after the superstar’s death is also the Christmas lights that Turner donated to the municipality of Kuesnacht in 2014. And lo and behold!. In the early afternoon, suddenly the donated Christmas wreaths are hanging on the street lamps-a visible homage to the rock queen, who found her happiness in Kuesnacht. 

“Open and Accessible”

One who met Tina Turner several times is Kuesnacht’s mayor, Markus Ernst (FDP). He expressed himself similarly as to the possibly best-known resident of Kuesnacht. “I saw her as a positive, natural personality. Although she inspired millions of people with her music, she remained open and accessible.”

As to the question of how the Kuesnacht municipality will deal with the fact that in the coming days and weeks, many people will probably make the pilgrimage to Kuesnacht, Markus Ernst reacts calmly. “We are naturally monitoring the situation. We want to give people the necessary space to express their sorrow. They should also be safe and the traffic should be able to flow.

At the time, however, the situation is very much similar to that on the occasion of the marriage of Tina Turner and her longtime partner, Erwin Bach, in the summer of 2013 that took place on the Kuesnacht estate directly on the lake. “There are more media representatives on the scene than fans.”

On the question of whether the municipality is planning a memorial for the world-famous singer in the long term- be it a street naming, a plaque, or also a museum, he (the mayor) is reserved. “It is not up to the municipality to decide that.” 

Museum in Staefa?

Christian Haltner (FDP), mayor of Staefa, has been in frequent contact with Erwin Bach in the past months after he (Bach) had purchased the Steinfels estate in the Staefa neighborhood of Uerikon. At that time, the rumor circulated in the village that a Tina Turner Museum might be built on the exclusive estate directly on the lake. Haltner doesn’t want to comment on the museum question. “That is the business of Erwin Bach, and now is surely not the right point in time for this question.”


My favorite song by Tina Turner was “River Deep Mountain High, which many have called the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded. I can’t disagree. It combined Tina’s great talent with the so-called “Wall of Sound” created by music producer Phil Spector (who ironically spent his last years in person after a murder conviction.) I thought I would close this posting with a video of that song. Enjoy.

Yes, she was simply the best.


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