Two days ago, one of the great blues, rock and soul singers of all time took her leave from this life at the age of 83. Born into poverty and witnessing her father abuse her mother she grew up in Nutbush, Tennessee where she joined the gospel choir. After being discovered by her later husband at a song contest she joined his band. He gave her the iconic stage name. She then put up with his violence and drug abuse for fourteen years before she struck out on her own, penniless and battered and reinvented herself once again and eventually became one of the most recognized singers of her time.
I never saw her live but we did see the musical ‘Tina’ last fall in London, just a day before the Queen’s passing. A fantastic and entertaining compilation of her story, her songs and her enduring legacy as a voice that blended music from two continents.
She died in Küsnacht, at her beloved Chateau Algonquin, just across the lake of Zurich, where I grew up. It’s where she lived with her husband, Erwin Bach, since 1998. She met him in 1986 and finally married him after living with him for 26 years. That was 2013. Bowie, Bryan Adams, Armani and many more travelled to Küsnacht for the wedding. I remember it because of a story that smelled of racism made the rounds in Switzerland at the time. Apparently, Oprah Winfrey, also a guest at the wedding, was shopping at an upscale handbag shop and after asking three times to see a particular purse was told she had to look at other, less expensive bags, since she couldn’t possibly afford that one.
Tina Turner took on Swiss citizenship and let her US passport go. She was well liked in Küsnacht, which she called home, and she donated the Christmas lights in 2014 to the town and personally christened a new boat for the local water safety and rescue that bears her name.
Three weeks after her wedding she had a severe stroke and a few years later was diagnosed with cancer. Her husband donated a kidney to her but to no avail.
She also faced tragedies in her personal life with the loss of two of her sons, Craig in 2018 and Ronnie in 2022. She lived not an easy life but a full one and it was a long road from Nutbush, Tennessee to Küsnacht on the Lake of Zürich.
‘Did you wallk?’ Camp asked when I took my seat at our usual table at our seaside watering hole.
‘Yes, the weather is perfect, like July, and the shoreline walk to Gibsons Harbour never loses its magic. There is that smoky haze though, like a silky shroud, covering the firmament. It’s probably the smoke from the Alberta fires. Not a good harbinger.
Camp nodded but would not be deterred from his point of interest for the day. ‘I’ve come across an interesting little item the other day,’ Camp said. ‘Astronomers have witnessed the largest explosion in space. AT2021lwx, as they labelled it, was observed to be ten times brighter than any known supernova, the explosions that occur as massive stars die. This large explosive event has been raging for at least three years and is also
three times brighter than the light that is emitted as stars are devoured by supermassive black holes. The blast is around 8 billion light-years from Earth and thus occurred when the universe was just 6 billion years old.’
‘I can’t even imagine anything that long ago, that big and that far away,’ I said, shaking my head and you’re talking to a guy who can’t tell when the moon is waning or waxing.’
This moral compass or mantra is hanging in a cheap IKEA frame in in my bathroom and I look at it every time I sit down. I don’t always read it but the other day I made a point of it and I thought it would make a good post. Something for everybody. A reminder of what human beings are capable off. The good part. The part that makes good neighbours, good friends, good politicians. No, maybe that’s one too far. Humans are equipped with extraordinary sensory equipment and instincts. If they would only listen to themselves. Stand still and listen.
To be strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind
To talk health, happiness, prosperity to every person you meet
To make all your friends feel that there is something of value in them
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true
To think only the best, to work only for the best and to expect the best
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit presence of trouble
‘Those are lofty sentiments,’ Camp said when I showed him the Creed. ‘How is that working out for you so far?’
‘Camp I know you’ve indulged in the wacky tobacco when you were young and carefree. How much do you smoke these days or is alcohol your poison of choice?’
‘First of all neither beer nor weed are poisons. I don’t smoke the stuff anymore because I like my lungs to operate on air and save my throat for swallowing but I do indulge in a brownie or a home baked cookie once in a while.’
‘What? To get high or just for the fun of it?’
‘Mostly to help me sleep but I have to admit the music sounds better after a cookie.’
‘Where do you get the cookies or brownies?’
‘My neighbour grows 4 plants, the allowable limit per household in BC, and has become very innovative and creative in getting the most out of her garden produce. She also makes pot-honey. One teaspoon in a cup of tea before bed does wonders for us insomniacs. What about you? You used to smoke the stuff. Remember the lids of Mexican weed, the Thai sticks or hash from the Hindukush?’
‘Well, yes, that was when I thought I’d live forever. These days beer is king and wine is the queen.’