The Queen of Rock set to show a little Swiss soul

Tina Turner will perform two shows in Zurich starting on Sunday Keystone

Eight years ago Tina Turner may have said she was done taking the stage but the diva's recent comeback tour will bring her to Zurich on Sunday.

This content was published on February 14, 2009 - 19:12

Turner, who has a home in Küsnacht on Lake Zurich, kicked off the European leg of her 50th Anniversary Tour in Germany last month. Some VIP tickets for the Queen of Rock's two shows in Switzerland are on sale for thousands of francs.

The re-emergence of the aging soul singer might remind some Swiss audiences of a similar comeback by singer Johnny Hallyday in 2003. The French rocker took the stage that year in Geneva's football stadium for his 60th birthday.

During the performance he projected a much younger video of himself onto a big screen behind the stage. The differences were striking.

"You see my hips have become a bit stiff, but otherwise I'm doing well," he said at the time.

If Turner, now 69 years old, were to take a similar approach, the video might show a much younger Turner, then married to singer Ike Turner, abusing the microphone with her powerful, larger-than-life voice as she shudders as if being shocked. Behind her singing backup are the Ikettes, one of the first all-girl rock groups in history.

The rise and fall

Ike Turner, who died in 2007, was a critically acclaimed musician whose 1951 track, Rocket 88, is considered by some to be the first true rock and roll song.

The Mississippi native knew one way for African Americans living in a segregated United States to be successful: through music, dance and sex appeal. His group, the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, made white musicians at the time look something like agile Frank Sinatras.

He married Tina, who was born Anna Mae Bullock, in Mexico in 1962. Phil Spector, a record producer who sometimes behaved like he'd just escaped from a mental hospital, managed to transfer the couple's musical talent onto vinyl and helped catapult the duo to international stardom.

The 1966 track, River Deep – Mountain High, became a worldwide hit that made it onto the shelves of Swiss record shops. The group's last significant hit came in 1973 with Nutbush City Limits, a semi-autobiographical song about a Tennessee town where Tina Turner grew up.

But as the Turners climbed the charts, their personal life began to sour as drugs and violence plagued the relationship. The story has been recounted in Tina Turner's autobiography as well as in the 1993 film, What's Love Got to Do with It.

The duo were divorced in 1978, when Tina Turner waived her claim to alimony as well as all rights to the music they had made together.

Take two for Turner

Turner's solo career, which today is considered quite sensational, was anything but that in the beginning. The music industry at first regarded her as an aging has-been and turned to younger performers instead.

Turner fought back with help from her contemporaries, people like David Bowie, Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones.

Above all on stage, Turner had to give audiences the soulful, sexy Tina. What Ike Turner had discovered, Tina would never let go, but it wasn't until Private Dancer in 1985 that her second career really took root. By 2000, after a long and successful run, Turner launched what was believed to be her last tour, called 24/7.

Then last year came a surprising revelation. Turner announced, at 68 years old, that she would pour herself into her signature short skirts and skin-tight pants and strut across the stage in high heels once again.

"If you take care of yourself, 60 is nothing for women these days," she told Britain's Daily Mail last month. "In today's world you can be the kind of woman you want to be."

Brigitte Ruf is thrilled. The diehard Swiss fan in Winterthur told swissinfo she owns nearly all of Turner's records and CDs since 1958 and even an autographed pair of her shoes.

"I also thought at 60, as she said herself, that she was done," Ruf said, who admits to having some doubts. "She now takes a half-hour break during her shows. That's new."

Home game

But Ruf said tickets are too expensive for this tour, which celebrates the half-century that Turner has been on her own. Not that it matters as tickets have sold out for both shows in Zurich. A last-minute post on an expat website in Switzerland on Friday offered two VIP passes to the concert for SFr1,700 ($1,462).

"The entrance fees this time are too high for me," Ruf said. "I can't afford it."

Maybe it was the gala at the 2008 Grammy Awards that got the ball rolling. There Turner teamed up with pop singer Beyoncé Knowles, some 42 years her junior, for a rendition of Proud Mary that brought wild applause from audiences. Shortly afterward Turner announced her comeback tour.

And so it came to pass. And since she has lived in Switzerland for many years now, maybe she'll greet audiences in Zurich in a bit of local dialect.

Perhaps then fans will know that the Queen of Rock has a bit of Swiss soul in her that has nothing to do with tax breaks.

swissinfo, based on an article in German by Urs Maurer

Key dates

1939 Tina Turner, née Anna Mae Bullock, born in Nutbush, Tennessee
1958 Becomes backup singer in Ike Turner's band, Kings of Rhythm
1962 Marries Ike Turner
1966 First hit in Europe with River Deep – Mountain High
1975 Plays the "Acid Queen" in The Who's Rockopera, Tommy
1978 Divorces Ike Turner, starts solo career
1984 Releases album, Private Dancer
1986 Releases album, Break Every Rule
1993 Film: Tina – What's Love Got to Do with It

End of insertion

Tina Turner

Tina Turner has four children. Two of them are from her relationship with Ike Turner, who brought two to the marriage. Ike Turner died on December 12, 2007. She had not spoken to him in 35 years.

Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Ike Turner in 1991 and in 1995 received the Legend Award at the World Music Awards. She is one of the biggest-selling singers of all time, with her albums selling hundreds of millions of copies worldwide.

A concert in January 1988 before more than 184,000 people got her into the Guiness Book of World Records.

The Tina! 50th Anniversary Tour has 53 scheduled European shows from Ireland to the Czech Republic.

End of insertion

Articles in this story

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.