Why Tina Turner Moved To Switzerland And Gave Up US Citizenship

Tina Turner might have been born Anna Mae Bullock in Tennessee in 1939, but in the mid-1990s she moved to Switzerland with her future husband, Erwin Bach. When speaking with Larry King in 1997 about her decision to give up the U.S. for Europe, Turner said (via YouTube), "I have left America because my success was in another country, and my boyfriend was in another country." She also stated that Europe was "more supportive of her music" than the U.S. — "hugely" so. It should be noted that becoming the citizen of another country is not the same thing as renouncing citizenship in the United States. The U.S. Embassy states that citizenship in the U.S. and another country — dual citizenship — is possible, but highly troublesome when it comes to rights, laws, and taxes.

Such questions must have preoccupied Turner when she decided to marry Bach and become a Swiss national. Bach is a German national and music industry executive, according to Entertainment Tonight. After "love at first sight" in 1985 and nearly 30 years together the couple married in 2013; Turner became a Swiss citizen that same year. In 2022, the two purchased a $76 million estate on Lake Zurich, per the Associated Press. In late May 2023, Turner died after a long illness at the age of 83 in her adopted home country. She had previously been diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and received a kidney transplant the following year, via Newsweek.

A bigger star in Europe

Though Tina Turner is a household name in the U.S. and famous all over the world, she was especially beloved in Europe. In 1997 she explained to Larry King (available on YouTube), "I'm as big as Madonna in Europe. I'm as big, in some places, as the Rolling Stones." Turner said that she became popular in England following the release of 1984's "Private Dancer" album, lived there for a couple years, met her future husband Erwin Bach and moved to Germany with him for three years, bought a house in France, and eventually moved to Zurich, Switzerland because Bach moved there for business purposes. This final move happened in 1994, and that's where Turner stayed until her death.

In 2013 — the year that Turner married Bach — she sat down and spoke with Oprah in an interview about her and Bach's relationship. Turner focused on her first meeting with Bach in an airport. She was at a point in her life when she "needed to love a person," she said. She described Bach as "handsome" and "young" (Bach was 16 years younger than her). Bach was present for the interview with Oprah and explained how it was difficult for him to continue hearing about Turner's prior, abusive marriage to Ike Turner. "I always think that Tina will one day erase this — reset this," he said. How that part of Turner's history factored into her decision to move to Switzerland is unknown.

Family disputes

Tina Turner might have been over the moon about her move to Switzerland, but not everyone in her life shared her feelings. According to Daily Mail, her son Ike Turner Jr. felt overlooked by his mother. "My mother is living her life — she has a new husband and she's in Europe," he said. "She doesn't want to have anything to do with the past." Though Turner offers her children financial support, Ike Jr. said she has ultimately detached herself from the life she had with Ike Turner — including their children. He also said, "I haven't talked to my mother since God knows when — probably around 2000. I don't think any of my brothers have talked to her in a long time either." Ike Turner Jr. also described his mother and father as absentee parents and said that he was basically raised by housekeepers. If it's true that Tina Turner detached herself from her children either when she moved to Europe, such a decision might have been part of her coming to terms with her life with her abusive former husband Ike Turner, as described on Biography.

Regardless, Tina Turner was not only visibly giddy when speaking with Larry King in 1997 — she also said that was fulfilling her dream of traveling to Switzerland. When Turner and Bach's $76-million estate purchase on Lake Zurich was announced in 2022, the purchase gave some insight into Turner's life abroad. Per the Associated Press, Bach said that he and Turner "feel very comfortable in Switzerland." The purchase resulted, in part, from pandemic restrictions. "We — like many other Swiss — unfortunately are refraining from travel," Bach said.