(Read all about Bonnie Tyler after the video)
Bonnie Tyler (born Gaynor Hopkins; 8 June 1951) is a Welsh singer, known for her distinctive husky voice. Tyler came to prominence with the release of her 1977 album The World Starts Tonight and its singles "Lost in France" and "More Than a Lover". Her 1978 single "It's a Heartache" reached number four on the UK Singles Chart, and number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.
In the 1980s, Tyler ventured into rock music with songwriter and producer Jim Steinman. He wrote Tyler's biggest hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart", the lead single from her 1983 UK chart topping album Faster Than the Speed of Night. Steinman also wrote Tyler's other major 1980s hit "Holding Out for a Hero". She had success in mainland Europe during the 1990s with Dieter Bohlen, who wrote and produced her hit "Bitterblue". In 2003, Tyler re-recorded "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with singer Kareen Antonn. Their bilingual duet topped the French charts.
Her latest album Rocks and Honey was released in 2013 and features the single "Believe in Me" which she performed representing the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. Both "It's a Heartache" and "Total Eclipse of the Heart" are among the best-selling singles of all time, with sales in excess of six million each. Her work has earned her three Grammy Award nominations and three Brit Award nominations, among other accolades.
Tyler was born Gaynor Hopkins in Skewen, Wales, to coal miner Glyndwr and housewife Elsie Hopkins. She grew up in a four-bedroom council house with three sisters and two brothers. Her siblings had varied music tastes, exposing her to artists such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. Hopkins and her family were deeply religious Protestants. Her first public performance took place in a chapel as a child, singing the Anglican hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful".
Leaving school with no formal qualifications, Hopkins began working in a grocery shop. In 1969, she entered a local talent contest, and after coming in second place, was inspired to pursue a career in singing. Responding to a newspaper advertisement, she found work as a backing singer for Bobby Wayne & the Dixies before forming her own soul band called Imagination. It was around this time that she changed her name to Sherene Davis in order to avoid being confused with Welsh folk singer Mary Hopkin.
1975–1978: The World Starts Tonight and Natural Force
In 1975, Davis was spotted singing with her band in the Townsman Club, Swansea, by talent scout Roger Bell, who invited her to London to record a demo track. After many months had passed, she received a phone call from RCA Records, offering her a recording contract. They also recommended that she change her name again. After compiling a list of surnames and Christian names from a newspaper, Davis found a new name in "Bonnie Tyler".
Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe became her managers, songwriters and producers. "My! My! Honeycomb" was released as her debut single in April 1976, and failed to impact any charts worldwide. RCA increased their promotional efforts for the release of Tyler's second single, "Lost in France", arranging for her to meet with a party of journalists at a French château. The single had no immediate impact upon its release in September 1976, but became a Top 10 single by the end of the year. Tyler's next single "More Than a Lover" was favoured by some critics, and she performed the song on the BBC's Top of the Pops on 31 March 1977. The song peaked at number 27 in the UK.
Despite producing two popular singles, Tyler's debut album, The World Starts Tonight, proved unsuccessful in Europe, except in Sweden, where it climbed to number 2.
"It's a Heartache" saw Tyler return to prominence again in 1978, reaching number 4 in the United Kingdom. The song also became her first hit in the United States, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Her second studio album Natural Force, released in the same year, was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with sales of over half a million copies. "Here Am I" was released as a third single in the spring of 1978, but the song failed to sustain her success in the United Kingdom and the United States, though it charted in other European countries.
1979–1981: Diamond Cut and Goodbye to the Island
Tyler's third studio album, Diamond Cut, was released in 1979. Most of the songs were again written and produced by Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe.
Diamond Cut was a hit in Norway and Sweden, but it only charted on the Billboard 200 at number 145. AllMusic declared the album to be the high point of Tyler's early career, "and a dynamite showcase for Tyler's inimitable voice". Record Mirror rated the album three stars out of five, stating that "only a minority of the material [was] holding her back", and that the album is "essential listening" for Country music fans.
Two singles were released from Diamond Cut; those were "My Guns Are Loaded" and "Too Good to Last". Tyler also released "(The World Is Full of) Married Men", which was used as the theme song for the film of the same name. Tyler appears in the film singing the song during the title sequence. It peaked at number thirty-five on the UK Singles Chart in July 1979. Record Mirror criticised the song; its reviewer wrote: "Bonnie stops chewing gravel for a minute or two..." and continued with "she ends up sandpapering my eardrums again. Ouch."
Tyler's first tour of Japan took place in 1979. During her visit, she represented the United Kingdom in the World Popular Song Festival held in Tokyo. Tyler won the competition with the song "Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean", written by Scott and Wolfe. "I Believe in Your Sweet Love" was also released in 1979, and listed as a single of the week in 1979 by Record Mirror upon its release.
Both singles featured on Tyler's final studio album with RCA. Goodbye to the Island was released in 1981, recorded in the Algarve, Portugal. AllMusic rated the album three stars out of five, with other critics predicting that Tyler was "doomed to be a one-hit wonder". Phil Hendricks from Cherry Records said that Tyler "[proved] time and time again that she was one of those rare artists who was able to take the odd chart flop on the chin and bounce back having suffered little collateral damage."
1982–1987: Faster Than the Speed of Night and Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire
After four albums with RCA, Tyler wanted a change in musical style. David Aspden succeeded Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe as her manager, and after seeing Meat Loaf performing on The Old Grey Whistle Test, she sought out Jim Steinman as her producer.
Steinman requested for Tyler to send some of her previous albums for him to listen to. Though he was not impressed by the music she had recorded, he saw potential in her voice. She was invited to his New York apartment three weeks later, where he presented her with "Total Eclipse of the Heart", a song which became a trans-Atlantic number 1 hit in 1983. It was pulled from the RIAA Platinum-certified Faster Than the Speed of Night. Bonnie received two Grammy Award nominations – for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance (given to Irene Cara and Pat Benatar).
Faster Than the Speed of Night entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1, and was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) with sales of over 60,000 copies. In the United States, the album was certified Platinum, with over half a million copies sold.
In 1984, Tyler recorded "Here She Comes" for the restoration version of the sci-fi film Metropolis. Despite not entering the Top 75 in the United Kingdom or the United States, Tyler was nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 1985 Grammy Awards.
Tyler continued to work with Jim Steinman for her sixth studio album, Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire. He worked as the executive producer, and penned four songs for it including its most successful single "Holding Out for a Hero". The song was originally released in 1984 as part of the soundtrack to Footloose.
The album was a chart success in Europe, but failed to significantly impact the American charts, only reaching number 106 on the Billboard 200. Reviews were generally negative, with Steinman's production being described as "[over] indulgent." Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire became Tyler's last album to chart in the United States, and contained her last charting U.S. single "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)". In the United Kingdom, the album peaked at number 24.
1988–1990: Hide Your Heart
Tyler released one more album with Columbia Records in 1988. It was released under the name Hide Your Heart in Europe, and Notes From America in the United States. Prolific songwriters for the album included Michael Bolton, Albert Hammond and Desmond Child, who also produced the album. The album enjoyed some success in continental Europe, but only peaked at No. 78 in the UK and failed to chart in the United States. The singles from Hide Your Heart were minor hits for Tyler, but went on to be major hits for other artists, including Kiss (with "Hide Your Heart"), Robin Beck, Cher and Freda Payne (with "Save Up All Your Tears") and Tina Turner with "The Best". When looking back over this era, Desmond Child said:
Bonnie Tyler is one of the greatest singers on Earth. Why? Because she comes to the studio prepared. I've never even seen her use a lyric sheet to sing. She comes with the song memorized, so when she stands there and sings, she closes her eyes. She's in a sacred space and you feel that. You can say a lot of things about Bonnie Tyler, but you cannot say she does not feel her music.
As part of the UK Hide Your Heart Tour in 1988, Tyler performed at the Reading Festival among acts such as Meat Loaf and Jefferson Starship. Both Tyler and Meat Loaf were subject to audience abuse, as bottles were hurled at them during their acts. Meat Loaf cut his performance short after suffering an injury, though Tyler managed to complete her set and encouraged the audience to sing along to "It's a Heartache".
Also in 1988, Tyler played the voice of Polly Garter in George Martin's production of Under Milk Wood, a radio drama by Dylan Thomas.
1991–1994: Success in Europe
German producer and songwriter Dieter Bohlen contacted Tyler in 1991, proposing a collaboration. Initially reluctant, Bohlen convinced her, arguing that "[she will] just have to be a bit more commercial". Tyler signed a recording contract with Hansa Records, releasing her eighth album Bitterblue on 11 November 1991.
AllMusic described the album as "a pleasant collection of pop songs". They also stated that the album started a "much more mainstream and less bombastic" direction in Tyler's career. But Billboard criticised the album, stating that the "bombastic production, with a rush of bagpipes and a choir of chirping children at the forefront, overpower Tyler's distinctive raspy voice."
Working on the record alongside Bohlen were songwriters and producers such as Giorgio Moroder, Albert Hammond and Nik Kershaw. The album's lead single, "Bitterblue", was a success in continental Europe, receiving an award for "Catchy Song of the Year" from RSH-GOLD in Germany. The album was certified 4× Platinum in Norway for sales of over 200,000. It sold a further 250,000 copies in Germany. Combining all the album's certifications, Bitterblue has sold over half a million copies since its release, but failed to chart in her native UK.
Angel Heart was released as the follow-up album to Bitterblue in October 1992. Bohlen wrote eleven of the fourteen songs on the album. The remaining three were written by Jerry Lynn Williams, Frankie Miller, Craig Joiner, Robert John "Mutt" Lange and Anthony Mitman. The album reunited Frankie Miller for their second duet, "Save Your Love". Released less than a year since the previous album, Angel Heart saw similar success, with certifications by IFPI Norway (Platinum), IFPI Austria (Gold), IFPI Switzerland (Gold) and the BMVI (Gold). Echoing "Bitterblue", the album's lead single "Fools Lullaby" was a European success, charting highest in Norway at No. 6. Tyler's success with Angel Heart led to her several awards and nominations, including a Bravo Otto award in Germany, and an Echo Award for best pop/rock singer of 1993.
In January 1993, Tyler's old record company Columbia Records released The Very Best of Bonnie Tyler. Tyler believed that the compilation was released to compete with her newly recorded work. Allmusic described it as "a great collection". The Very Best of Bonnie Tyler was certified Platinum by the BMVI.
The third and final album under Hansa, Silhouette in Red, was released in October 1993. Success with this album was less widespread in Europe, though it was still certified Platinum in Norway. The songwriting team was as condensed as on Angel Heart, as Bohlen wrote twelve of the fifteen songs. The final track, "You Won't See Me Cry", was co-written by Lee Morris and Tyler's own brother Paul Hopkins. She also recorded the Joe Cocker song "You Are So Beautiful". In Angel Heart and Silhouette in Red, Bohlen cited his songwriting credits under the pseudonyms of Steve Benson, Jennifer Blake and Howard Houston. AllMusic opined that Tyler's influences (Janis Joplin and Tina Turner) "often shine through on this hard to find album." The album was followed up with the Silhouette in Red Tour in Europe. Tyler received the Goldene Europa Award and won Best International Female Vocalist at the Echo Awards in 1994.
In October 1994, Tyler released a final compilation album with Hansa entitled Comeback: Single Collection '90–'94, featuring the single "Back Home". Neither the compilation nor the single saw any chart success. AllMusic gave the compilation a star rating of two out of five. Tyler's contract with Hansa Records expired at the end of the year.
1995–1999: Free Spirit and All in One Voice
Dieter Bohlen took Tyler's exit from Hansa Records "very personally", describing her next album as "one of the most expensive flops in the history of EastWest Records". It was with EastWest that she recorded Free Spirit, a critically acclaimed album which became her first U.S. release since Hide Your Heart in 1988. Prolific producers such as David Foster and Humberto Gatica were involved in the production of this record, as well as Jim Steinman. Their reunion saw the release of "Making Love Out of Nothing at All", of which her version narrowly missed the UK Top 40 in January 1996. The single featured Tyler's mother's operatic vocals on the intro to the song.
Free Spirit was released in 1995, in Europe by EastWest and in the U.S. by Atlantic Records. The album was re-released in 1996, with the addition of the song "Limelight", which was used as the official song of the German Olympic Team. AllMusic stated that "several songs on this album rate about average, but there are several shining moments which should have brought this set, from such an engaging singer, much more attention than the minimal it received."
Returning to Germany in 1997, Tyler recorded "He's the King" for the German film Der König von St. Pauli. Tyler appeared in the film performing the song in a casino. The single was released in December 1997, reaching number ninety-five in Germany. Success proved to halt at this point, with the album All in One Voice and its second single "Heaven" failing to chart worldwide.
Also in 1998, Tyler recorded "Tyre Tracks and Broken Hearts" for the concept album Whistle Down the Wind, a musical which premiered in 1996. In the following year, Tyler recorded "Is Anybody There?" for Rick Wakeman's Return to the Centre of the Earth album, a sequel to Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974).
2000–2003: Greatest Hits and Heart Strings
On 14 September 2001, Tyler released Greatest Hits, a compilation album containing seventeen tracks. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number 18, and was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales of over 60,000 units. Greatest Hits reached the Top 10 in a further five European countries.
In 2002, Tyler began working on her thirteenth studio album, Heart Strings. EMI approached her with the idea of recording a cover album with an orchestra and Tyler's band. She selected thirteen songs by artists such as U2, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen. The songs were arranged by composers Nick Ingman and Karl Jenkins, and performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Heart Strings was released on 18 March 2003, and was followed by a tour in Germany. The album charted in Europe, reaching the Top 50 in five countries.
Also in 2003, French vocalist Kareen Antonn sent Tyler a demo recording of Antonn singing a French arrangement of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", entitled "Si demain...", requesting to duet with her. Tyler accepted, and the track was released in December 2003. It went to number 1 in France, holding the top position for ten weeks, as well as Belgium and Poland, selling over 500,000 copies in France. The success of the single was considered to be Tyler's comeback in France, and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from music critics.
2004–2005: Simply Believe and Wings
Tyler and Antonn released a second hit single, "Si tout s'arrête (It's A Heartache)", in 2004. Both "Si demain..." and "Si tout s'arrête" were included on Tyler's 2004 album, Simply Believe. Stuart Emerson also worked on the album, composing six of the tracks, two of which were re-recordings from Tyler's Free Spirit album from 1995.
"For the first time in my whole career, I'm more involved than ever before", Tyler said when interviewed about her fifteenth studio album, Wings. As the first time she became actively involved in the songwriting process of one of her albums, Wings marked a shift in Tyler's career, focusing on mainstream pop music. With her main songwriting team consisting of herself, Paul D. Fitzgerald and Karen Drotar, they crafted two singles, "Louise" and "Celebrate", neither of which were commercially successful when the album was released in mid-2005. For her birthday in 2005, Tyler and her French band performed in La Cigale, Paris, and in Zaragosa, Spain, before an audience of 100,000 people. The concerts were filmed and brought together to be released on a CD (Bonnie Tyler Live) and DVD (Bonnie on Tour) in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Wings was re-released in the United Kingdom in 2006 under the title Celebrate, though the album again failed to chart. Reviews of the album reflected the success of the album, regarding it as a herald that Tyler "should be re-teaming with a producer of Jim Steinman's caliber to bring out the best in her inimitable voice", and that the album content fell short of her previous work in the 1980s.
Tyler was awarded with a Steiger Award in Dortmund, Germany in 2005 – a lifetime achievement award for her success in the music business.
2006–2011: From the Heart: Greatest Hits and Best of 3 CD
Between the release of her fifteenth and sixteenth studio albums, Tyler's work consisted of one-off recordings, releasing a handful of compilation albums and appearing on television. In September 2006, Tyler made her first appearance on US television in years, as she sang a duet of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with actress Lucy Lawless on the American show Celebrity Duets. At the same approximate time, she collaborated with the punk group BabyPinkStar to record a new version of the same song. In the following year, a new Greatest Hits collection, From the Heart: Greatest Hits, was released. The compilation reached No. 2 in the Irish album charts and No. 31 in the UK. She also appeared in an episode of the British TV game show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
In 2009, it was announced by Mal Pope that he had recruited Tyler to perform the title track to his self-written musical, Cappuccino Girls, which would tour in Wales in the following months. She performed the title song on the opening night in the Grand Theatre, Swansea. Soon after, she made a guest appearance in Hollyoaks Later, the late night edition of the British Channel 4 teen soap Hollyoaks, in which she sang her hit "Holding Out for a Hero" with one of the characters. She also recorded another new version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with the Welsh male voice choir Only Men Aloud! for their second album Band of Brothers, which was released in October 2009. In the following year, Tyler appeared in a television advertisement for MasterCard singing a parody of "Total Eclipse of the Heart". Tyler performed in Australia at the end of October as a supporting guest for Robin Gibb. Both Gibb and Tyler received negative reviews after their concerts, with Tyler being criticised for her lack of command and a voice that "failed her". Her concert in Wellington was similarly critical, "the guitars were dialed back to 1983 – and stayed there for the entire evening", and the new tracks Tyler performed were described as sub-standard.
In 2011, Tyler appeared on Swedish TV show Kvällen är din ("The Evening Is Yours" in English), singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with Swedish singer Niklas Paulström. Tyler also performed "It's a Heartache". She also made a guest appearance in the music video "Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind)", a parody of the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys song "Empire State of Mind" for the BBC's Comic Relief charity. Also in 2011, Tyler won an award at the BMI London Awards for "It's a Heartache" gaining over 3 million airplays on US television and radio since it was first recorded in 1977. She also appeared on the Ukrainian version of X Factor as one of the three British guests, alongside Kylie Minogue and Cher Lloyd. She performed "It's a Heartache", "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Holding Out for a Hero". In December 2011, a portrait of Tyler by Rolf Harris, owned by Cathy Sims, was appraised for £50,000 on BBC's Antiques Roadshow.
On 26 September 2011, Sony Music released a compilation entitled Best of 3 CD, which featured two new tracks; a duet with French singer Laura Zen entitled "Amour Éternel (Eternal Flame)", and "Under One Sky", a song written by Paul D. Fitzgerald, the main songwriter on Tyler's 2005 album Wings. The compilation reached No. 36 in France and No. 48 in Belgium. It was first released to French radio stations on 29 August 2011.
2012–2014: Rocks and Honey and the Eurovision Song Contest
In early 2012, Tyler began working on her latest album, Rocks and Honey. She travelled to Nashville, Tennessee in search of material for the album. It was recorded at the Blackbird Studios in Nashville, and produced by David Huff. Tyler sent the album to the BBC ahead of its release for feedback. After hearing the third track "Believe in Me", they asked Tyler to represent the United Kingdom with the song at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. Although she was initially reluctant, Tyler accepted, describing Eurovision as "great publicity for my album".
Tyler was announced as the United Kingdom's entrant on 7 March 2013, and was met with a mixed reaction. "Believe in Me" was released on 13 March, and peaked at number 93 in the United Kingdom. As a member of the "Big Five", the United Kingdom automatically qualified to the Eurovision Grand Final on 18 May. Tyler finished in 19th place with 23 points. Reacting to the results, Tyler stated, "I did the best that I could do with a great song", adding, "I'm so glad and so happy that I did it because it was an incredible experience. It was like the Grammy awards all over again."
Following the Eurovision Song Contest, Tyler became the first representative for the United Kingdom to receive a Eurovision Song Contest Radio Award. She received the accolades for Best Song and Best Female Singer.
Rocks and Honey was released on 6 May 2013 in the United Kingdom, and peaked at number 52 on the UK Albums Chart. The album was titled in reference to the contrast between Tyler and Vince Gill's voice on their duet "What You Need from Me", which was likened to "rocks and honey". "This Is Gonna Hurt" and "Love Is the Knife" were released as the second and third singles in August and September 2013 respectively, though both songs failed to chart.
In 2014, Tyler released "Miserere" on Rhydian Roberts's album One Day like This, and "Fortune" on Spike's album 100% Pure Frankie Miller.
2015–2017: Greatest Hits Tour and upcoming album
In June 2015, Tyler performed "Circle of Life" from The Lion King on Die schönsten Disney Songs aller Zeiten, a German TV show celebrating numerous popular Disney songs. In September 2015, she appeared on the live NBC show Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris performing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Holding Out for a Hero", featuring vocals from Neil Patrick Harris, Nicole Scherzinger and Alec Baldwin.
Tyler contributed vocals to Frankie Miller's album Frankie Miller's Double Take, which was released on 30 September 2016. In October 2016, Tyler embarked on her Greatest Hits Tour in Germany. While promoting the tour, she announced that she will be travelling to Nashville in December to record some new music with John Carter Cash. In February 2017, it was announced that Tyler would be releasing a new single called "Love's Holding On" with German heavy metal band Axel Rudi Pell.
On 16 August 2017, it was announced that Tyler would perform "Total Eclipse of the Heart" aboard the MS Oasis of the Seas during the solar eclipse of 21 August 2017, backed by American dance-rock band DNCE, and lead singer Joe Jonas.
Tyler married property developer and 1972 Olympic judo contestant Robert Sullivan on 14 July 1973. They have no children; Tyler miscarried when she was aged 39.
Since 1988, Tyler and her husband have owned a five-bedroom home in Albufeira in the Algarve. Tyler had recorded one of her albums there in the late 1970s, and the couple had spent the better part of the year there. In 2005, Tyler was filmed in the Algarve for the Polish entertainment TV show Zacisze gwiazd, which explores the houses of actors and musicians.
Tyler and Sullivan have invested in real estate. As of a 1999 interview, they owned farmland in Portugal and New Zealand, 22 houses in Royal Berkshire and London, and 65 stables offering horse boarding services. In a 2013 interview, Tyler stated that the farm in New Zealand had been converted to a dairy farm twelve years after they purchased the land. In the same interview she also stated that she and Sullivan also own a quarry.