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Who is Erwin Bach? Inside the selfless marriage of Tina Turner and the man who saved her life

The late Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s incredible love story unveiled


Who is Erwin Bach? Inside the selfless marriage of Tina Turner and the man who saved her life© Franziska Krug
Faye James
Senior Editor
May 25, 2023
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After a tumultuous first marriage, Tina Turner, the indomitable Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, found her haven in the love of Erwin Bach, who stayed by her side through health and sickness until her demise at 83 on Wednesday. 

As we mourn the loss of this trailblazing music icon, we celebrate the remarkable love story that brought her the happiness she so deserved.

Tina Turner, known for her electrifying performances and influential music, passed away at her home in Küsnach, near Zurich, Switzerland, following a prolonged illness. She leaves behind her husband, Erwin, 67, and two of her four sons. 

MORE: Tina Turner death: celebrities react, pay tribute to the beloved music legend

Tina Turner and Erwin Bach in 2005© Franziska Krug
Tina Turner and Erwin Bach in 2005

Her representatives stated: "With her the world loses a music legend and role model."

Amid her successful career, Tina Turner met Bach, a record label executive at EMI, in 1985. Their connection was instant and profound. 

Recounting the moment in the 2021 HBO documentary Tina, Erwin reminisced, “I was asked to pick up Tina by her manager Roger [Davies]. When he said, ‘Tina, you ride with Erwin,’ I wanted to go, "Yay!"'

Tina mirrored his sentiment, adding: “He was really so good-looking. My heart was beating fast, and my hands were shaking. My hands were ice-cold. So this is what they call love at first sight, I thought. Oh my God, I am not ready for this.”

 Tina Turner and  Erwin Bach attend the Giorgio Armani 40th Anniversary, 2015 in Milan© Jacopo M. Raule
Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the Giorgio Armani 40th Anniversary, 2015 in Milan

This chance meeting marked the beginning of their love story that spanned over three decades. The couple began dating the same year and Tina continued her collaboration with EMI for her music distribution overseas.

Their relationship was a significant turning point for Tina, especially after the trauma and pain she endured during her first marriage to Ike Turner. In her book Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good, Tina wrote about the impact Erwin had on her life.

“Falling in love with my husband, Erwin, was another exercise in leaving my comfort zone, of being open to the unexpected gifts that life has to offer,” she reflected.

Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the opening night of 'Tina' the Tina Turner musical, 2018 in London. © Stuart C. Wilson
Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the opening night of 'Tina' the Tina Turner musical, 2018 in London.

Despite their deep bond, it wasn't until 2013, 27 years into their relationship, that Bach and Turner, then 73, decided to tie the knot. 

They had a civil ceremony on the banks of Lake Zurich in Switzerland. Days later, the couple hosted a grand celebration at their luxurious Swiss residence, where the likes of Oprah Winfrey and David Bowie were among the 120 guests. 

To enhance the beauty of their home, around 70,000 red and yellow roses were imported from the Netherlands.

 Tina Turner and her husband Giorgio Armani Prive Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019 show© Bertrand Rindoff Petroff
Tina Turner and her husband Giorgio Armani Prive Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019 show

The couple's decision to wed was surprising to many, given their longstanding contentment without matrimony. Erwin had once stated: 'We don't need a marriage to be together. Some people need that security thing, but I think if you're internally happy with your partner, you don't need symbols.”

But their union proved to be a testament of their unwavering love, a love that saw Turner through the darkest periods of her life. Erwin, demonstrating his unparalleled devotion, donated a kidney to Tina in April 2017 when she was diagnosed with kidney failure.

Tina's gratitude for her husband's support was poignant. 

Tina Turner poses with Erwin Bach to celebrate her 50th birthday in November 1989© Dave Hogan
Tina Turner poses with Erwin Bach to celebrate her 50th birthday in November 1989

“At this terrible moment of guilt and self-recrimination, I learned something wonderful about Erwin,” she wrote in her 2018 memoir My Love Story. 

“He never reproached me for my mistake. Instead, he was loyal, kind, and understanding — and determined to help me get through all this alive.”

Throughout their time together, the couple faced their fair share of scrutiny, particularly because of their 17-year age difference. Still, they remained steadfast. Tina's memoir, addresses this criticism, stating: “What else would a younger man want with an older woman? Erwin always ignored the rumors.”

 Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the opening night of "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical" at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 2019 in New York City.  © Bruce Glikas
Tina Turner and Erwin Bach attend the opening night of "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical" at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 2019 in New York City.

In her final years, Tina found peace and fulfillment in her relationship with Erwin, choosing to retreat from her career in music to enjoy the tranquility of their life in Switzerland. 

She told the New York Times in 2019: “I was just tired of singing and making everybody happy. That's all I'd ever done in my life. I don't sing. I don't dance. I don't dress up.”

Despite the bliss Tina experienced with Erwin, the scars from her previous abusive relationship with Ike lingered. He shared that she continued to have nightmares about the abuse. However, he was always there to provide comfort, like a beacon of hope in the darkness of her past.

tina turner wedding dress© ©Florian Kalotay (Pourunefois.ch)
Tina and Erwin's wedding day

As Tina withdrew from her professional commitments, she held onto the love and companionship Bach provided. Her last album, made in 1999, and her final performance in 2009, symbolized her choice to focus on their relationship.

In the face of her demise, the world remembers Tina's captivating voice and her enduring legacy in music. 

But for Erwin, the loss is deeply personal — the end of a remarkable 38-year love story that began at an airport in Germany and blossomed into a relationship marked by devotion, sacrifice, and enduring love.

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