Bonnie Tyler

  • Pop/Rock British singer born Gaynor Sullivan in 1951 in Skewen, Neath, Wales.
  • Sullivan sang in church, but she had no formal training in singing. Her family loved music and they would all sing along with records by the Beatles and Motown – Sullivan in particular liked Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. At 18 years old, she entered a local talent contest and she came in second place. This encouraged her to try singing as a career. She responded to an advertisement in a newspaper, and she became a singer for Welsh vocal group Bobby Wayne and the Dixies, staying with the group for a year and a half. In 1970, she formed her own group, called Imagination, changing her stage name to Sherene Davis. A talent scout her heard perform, and in 1975, a demo tape of two songs was made. Many months passed, and then suddenly, she was offered a recording contract. The record company suggested that she change her name again. She scanned the newspaper for first and last names, and settled on Bonnie Tyler.
  • The songs on the demo tape were released as singles. The first song, My! My! Honeycomb failed, but the second song, a pop song that she didn’t think suited her voice, did better – Lost In France reached #9 in the UK and it charted in other International countries. The song was included on her debut album, The World Sleeps Tonight, released in 1977. A second single from the album, More Than A Lover, charted but was less successful.
  • She had throat surgery to remove nodules on her vocal chords. Her doctor told her to not sing for six weeks. She ignored the doctor, and her voice changed to a distinctive rasp. Her breakthrough came with her second album, Natural Force, released in 1978. It included the single It’s A Heartache, and the world came to know her and her new voice, which critics compared to that of Rod Stewart. The song peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 chart, was #1 in four other countries, and was top ten on 20 International charts. She couldn’t sustain her success – albums released in 1979 and 1981 flopped, and numerous singles failed to chart.
  • She decided to switch record producers, and she collaborated with Jim Steinman, who had had success producing for Meatloaf. Steinman wrote and produced Tyler’s next single, and Total Eclipse of the Heart became her biggest hit. It topped the Hot 100 for four weeks, and it topped charts in seven other countries. It was included on her 1983 album Faster Than the Speed of Night, which was certified platinum, reaching #4 on the Billboard 200 album chart and #1 in the UK. Steinman produced her next album, Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire, released in 1986. It included Holding Out for a Hero, which was released two years earlier as part of the soundtrack to the film Footloose. It reached #2 in the UK and #34 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • Tyler released eleven albums between 1988 and 2020. Some of the earlier albums had success in Scandinavian countries, but these albums were not commercially successful outside of mainland Europe. In 2003 and 2004, she recorded bilingual duets with French vocalist Kareen Antonn. Their new version of Total Eclipse of the Heart, retitled Si Demain…(Turn Around) reached #1 in France and Belgium for ten weeks. Their new version of It’s a Heartache reached #12 in France.
  • Her 2013 album Rocks and Honey was given that title because it included a duet with Vince Gill – after they recorded What You Need From Me, someone compared her and Gill’s voices to “rocks and honey.” Tyler liked the comparison, and named the album accordingly.
  • In 2022, Tyler was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire as part of the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Here’s the video to her signature hit, Total Eclipse of the Heart – definitely an anthem from the eighties.

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