Tina Turner is Becoming a Swiss Citizen for Love, Not for Evading American Taxes
I wasn’t caught off guard about singer Tina Turner’s January announcement that she would relinquish her American citizenship. Frankly, I wondered aloud about how long it took. Unlike jerks like actor Gerard Depardieu and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, Tina is not becoming a Swiss citizen because she wants to evade American taxes, which went up to about 37% this year for the rich. I think she’s doing it for a number of reasons, under the rubric she gave in her statement, which was to “clarify her situation.”
First, I think it is because she is still very in love with her long-time partner, Erwin Bach, who is about a decade and a half younger than she. She does not wish to divide her time between the U.S. and Switzerland, between the past and the present. Besides, she also has other homes in London, Cologne, and in the French Riviera. Her principal residence is in Kuesnacht, Switzerland since the mid-1990s where she lives with Bach, a German music executive, in an idyllic chateau shown below.
Tina Turner is worth in the neighborhood of $200 million dollars (USD). Even if she wanted to, she probably could not escape some of the highest tax rates in the world in Switzerland. The Swiss, after all, have what the wingers call a “socialist state.” But she also has other property and interests in the United States which she may yet liquidate. Even if she became a Swiss citizen, she could not quite escape those American business taxes either, even if she did have a few Swiss bank accounts. There is now even a tax if you want to renounce your American citizenship, reportedly thanks to Saverin’s double cross.
So I don’t get the hooplah that is being ginned up about Tina Turner being some kind of tax protester who is sequestering her money offshore. If anything, rich Europeans come have come here to escape high taxes in their countries. Check out what happened to three of The Beatles after their break-up. Of the Fab Four, only George Harrison resided full time in Britain; John, Paul and Ringo variously applied for or later received U.S. citizenship or residency.
And for those who say that Tina could not fit in the tightly-wound white Swiss bourgeoisie (which supposedly hasn’t changed its ways since the days of Nina Simone and even earlier native son psychologist and iconoclast Carl Jung who had his clinic there), she really doesn’t have to. Tina, no doubt, has built her own coterie of friends who live and/or work in and out of Switzerland. They don’t have to be celebrities either. But she likes it there. She is treated well, not only because she is Tina Turner and rich, but because she is herself. Tina is not accosted by fans (the papparazzi is another issue entirely); she can do her own shopping and go to the hairdresser quietly and naturally like any other ordinary person.
Plus, if she wishes, she can be a part of Soka Gakkai International – Switzerland which has kaikan or cultural centers in three cities: Geneva, Lugano and Zurich. The closest to her home would be Zurich.
Tina’s mother Zelma and elder sister Aileen have passed on. She does not talk publicly about Craig Hill, her first child by one of Ike Turner’s band members, or Ronnie Turner, her only child by Ike. Her sons—and this includes her stepsons from Ike—have not all fared as well as adults. There are rumors that drugs have been at the bottom of their problems. Tina helps them financially, but at arms length. And besides these are adult children who are pushing into their 50s or more, and who have grandchildren for Tina. In a 2007 Gloria magazine article, Tina said:
“[…] She rarely travels to USA, but when she does she looks forwards to seeing her sons – Craig, born from her relationship with sax player Raymond Hill and Ronald whose father is Ike Turner. Besides them, she also has two adopted sons, Ike junior and Michael. She says that her sons are adult men who have their own lives and families and they see and hear from each other as much as they can. They are close but they don’t feel the need to be around each other every second, which is impossible since they live on different continents.
The United States may be where she was born, but I don’t think that Tina wants to revisit the bad old days. She wants to bury that past. Reportedly, she is rumored not to care about Black History Month either, but she later apologized for performing in Sun City, Bophuthatswana, one of the questionable “homelands” the Afrikaaner government set up before the release of Mandela. Nevertheless, she is another, entirely different woman now.
This is one reason why she did not say very much when Ike Turner died, only that she had not seen him in 35 years, which probably was true. She did not commit the cardinal sin of speaking ill of the dead. She has said everything that she wanted to say in interviews and in her book, I, Tina. It was over a long time ago, and she let it lie. She is way beyond all that now. That’s why despite all the vitriol aimed at her at Ike Turner’s funeral in 2007, especially by Phil “killed a woman who was going to leave him” Spector, Tina said essentially nothing. Tina is not only a survivor, she is a winner. And even at the close of her life, she wants to keep on winning.
Tina speaks German fluently, and possibly other languages since she has moved to Europe. She and Erwin go where they are invited. They attend gallery openings, Armani fashion shows, film festivals and premieres, parties and balls, among other social activities. They travel and sightsee and enjoy good food and drink. Musically, she spends more time in the studio these days, working on her Beyond music project, which celebrates the oneness of all world religions and spiritual philosophies. She’s presently at work at her second Beyond album. The Swiss loved the first album and the worldwide attention it received; and reports say that it charted well in Switzerland.
And always beside her, it appears, is Erwin Bach. So who is this guy? He has been variously described in stories as her manager, a music promoter, a music manager, and a record executive. For information on Bach’s bona fides, one has to back away from the entertainment and gossip sites and search and access information from the music industry. This is what I have been able to find: in a 2002 article from Music Industry News Network (Mi2N), it appears that Bach has been moving onward and upward in the music industry for quite some time.
Emmanuel de Buretel, chairman and CEO of EMI Recorded Music Continental Europe, has today confirmed Erwin Bach in the newly established non-executive role of chairman EMI Recorded Music Switzerland, and has appointed Bart Cools to succeed Bach as managing director of the company with responsibility for both Capitol Records and Virgin Records.
Cools, reporting directly to de Buretel, will assume full day-to-day responsibility for the operations of the company. Bach will work closely with Cools in his new chairmanship role, primarily as non-executive but with a special focus on maintaining relationships with artists, customers and industry associations.
Bach moved from Capitol Records Germany (formerly EMI Electrola Germany) in 1995 where as divisional managing director of EMI Germany he was instrumental in developing local superstar acts like Herbert Grönemeyer and BAP and international acts like Paul McCartney, Pet Shop Boys, Tina Turner, Queen, Pink Floyd and many more in Germany.
As managing director of EMI Recorded Music Switzerland (formerly EMI Records Switzerland AG) since 1995 he has had particular success with Manu Chao, Lenny Kravitz, Robbie Williams, Radiohead and Italy’s talented Tiziano Ferro as well as local superstar DJ Bobo. He originally joined EMI in 1974.
Translation: Bach is EMI’s top public relations man developing as well as keeping all of the contracts happy, whether they are recording, finding new material and/or newgroup members, or performing in sponsored concerts. He must be good at it. And that would also entail keeping Tina Turner—one of EMI’s big acts—happy and on the team as well.
So seriously, Erwin Bach has his own money and can stand up on his own. He is not living off Tina. His and her financial interests may not be entwined as it was when she was married to Ike (who held all the purse strings), but Bach certainly helped in making her financially independent and still bankable in Europe, even if she is now semi-retired. That is a true gift of love, that one does not use money as a bludgeon to keep another within a relationship, no matter if you are straight or gay or in between.
Erwin and Tina probably don’t need that piece of paper to legally seal their relationship, and at this point, does it really matter? So I wish them well in the coming years, and I mean that not just because I am a woman and an SGI Buddhist like Tina. I mean it because I and we all deserve happiness.
- Tina Turner to become a Swiss citizen (marquee.blogs.cnn.com)
- Tina Turner to Become a Swiss Citizen (voanews.com)
- Tina Turner Applies for Swiss Citizenship (newamericamedia.org)
- Tina Turner Renounces American Citizenship in Favor of the Swiss (seattlepi.com)
- Why Tina Turner Won’t Be an American Citizen Anymore (theatlanticwire.com)