Bonnie Tyler

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Bonnie Tyler
Bonnie Tyler live in Bucharest, Romania.jpg
Tyler performing at the Sala Palatului, Bucharest, Romania, on 8 December 2012
Background information
Birth name Gaynor Hopkins
Born (1951-06-08) 8 June 1951 (age 63)
Skewen, West Glamorgan, Wales
Genres Pop rock, country rock, soft rock, Wagnerian rock, progressive rock
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1975–present
Labels RCA, Chrysalis, CBS, Columbia, Hansa, Atlantic, East West, CMC Records, Sony, Stick Music, ZYX Music, Celtic Swan Recordings
Website Official site

Bonnie Tyler (born Gaynor Hopkins;[1] 8 June 1951) is a Welsh singer. Born in Skewen, she spent seven years performing in pubs and clubs around South Wales before being signed to RCA Records in 1975. Tyler is known for her distinctive husky voice, resulting from an operation to remove vocal nodules in the mid-1970s. Her singing has been compared to Rod Stewart and Kim Carnes, and she has been referred to as the 'International First Lady of Rock.'[2][3][4][5]

Tyler first achieved major chart success in the 1970s with "Lost in France" and "It's a Heartache." She achieved further chart success in the 1980s with the two hit singles "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Holding Out for a Hero." 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. Her 1983 album Faster Than the Speed of Night debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, earning her a Guinness World Record for being the first female artist to do so.[6] Her work has earned her two Grammy Award nominations and three Brit Award nominations, among other accolades.

Making a comeback in 2003, she released "Si demain..." with Kareen Antonn, which was a number one in France for ten weeks. Her latest album Rocks and Honey has had moderate success in Europe, with her single "Believe in Me" being used as the UK's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2013.[7] Following the contest, Tyler received two Eurovision Song Contest Radio Awards for Best Song and Best Singer, making her the first UK representative to win the award.[8]

Early life[edit]

Gaynor Hopkins was born in Skewen, Wales on 8 June 1951.[9] Her father, Glyndwr Hopkins, was a coal miner and her mother, Elsie Hopkins, was a housewife and member of the local church choir.[10] Hopkins was brought up in a deeply religious Protestant family.[10] The Hopkins family were all music lovers: "We used to have a very old radiogram," Tyler recalled, "and there was always music on in the house."[11] Her mother listened to opera music, and her siblings listened to artists and groups such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and The Beatles, while Hopkins listened to Motown music and female artists such as Janis Joplin and Tina Turner (then working with Ike Turner).[12] She concluded her education in the 1960s, leaving school with no qualifications, and began working in the local grocery shop.[13]

In April 1969, aged 17, Hopkins's aunt entered her in a local talent contest. She sang the Mary Hopkin hit "Those Were the Days" and the Ray Charles song "I Can't Stop Loving You," finishing in second place (losing to an accordionist), and won £1.[14] She later successfully auditioned to join Bobby Wayne & The Dixies as a backing singer after finding an advert in a local newspaper. Two years after auditioning for Bobby Wayne & The Dixies, Tyler formed her own band, called Imagination, and performed with them in pubs and clubs around southern Wales. It was then that she decided to adopt the stage name of "Shereen Davis," taking the names from her niece's forename and favourite aunt's surname. Despite the two name changes, her family and friends still know her as Gaynor.[1]

On 14 July 1973, she married Robert Sullivan, an estate agent and Swansea night club manager who had represented the UK at the 1972 Munich Olympics as a judoka.[10] In the following year, Davis and Imagination performed "Armed and Extremely Dangerous" on the British television talent show New Faces, coming fourth out of seven contestants. She quoted Mickie Most as saying, "The girl has got something but the boys are just playing away."[13] Embarrassed to speak between songs when performing in South Wales, Davis began attending elocution lessons to neutralise her Welsh accent, but gave up after six weeks.[15] In 1975, Roger Bell, who was working for Chapel Music at the time, visited a music club in South Wales to see some record contract hopefuls, but he came in on the wrong floor to find Hopkins singing "Nutbush City Limits" with Imagination.[16] She was invited to London to record a handful of demos, and months later she received a phone call from RCA Records asking to sign her to a record contract. Before signing, another name change was recommended. She compiled a list of surnames and Christian names and settled on "Bonnie Tyler," which she still uses.[1][17]


1976–78: The World Starts Tonight and Natural Force[edit]

Tyler's first single, "My! My! Honeycomb," failed to chart upon its release in April 1976.[18] The song was written by British songwriter John Szego. Her second single, "Lost in France," was written by Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe. It took six weeks for the song to chart in the UK, but peaked at number 9 in November 1976.[19] "Lost in France" was also a substantial hit in Europe, establishing her as a country artist. It was certified Silver in the UK for sales of over 250,000 copies.[20] The success of "Lost in France" saw Tyler nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Newcomer in 1977.[21]

During her promotional work for "Lost in France," Tyler found her voice adopting a raspy quality and was diagnosed with large vocal nodules that needed to be urgently treated. After failing to observe the six weeks of vocal rest advised by her doctor, she was left with a permanent husky sound which became her trademark.[22] Tyler's career continued, and she was announced as the support act during Gene Pitney's tour in February 1977.[17]

"Lost in France" appeared on her debut album The World Starts Tonight, which was released in 1977. The album only charted in Sweden, peaking at number two. The follow-up single "More Than a Lover" was acclaimed by critics for having a controversial edge.[23] Record Mirror described the song as "more meaty" than "Lost in France," but not as commercial.[17] Following a performance of the song on Top of the Pops in March 1977,[24] the BBC banned "More Than a Lover" from receiving air play on television due to "unsuitable lyrical content." It peaked at number twenty-seven in the UK.[25]

The World Starts Tonight was viewed as being "filled with promise and indications of great things to come,"[26] though during press interviews in 1976, Tyler admitted that the lead single of the album was not her preferred style of song, and that her interest lay in funkier music.[17]

In the summer of 1977, the song "Heaven" was released, taken from her upcoming second studio album. Promotion for the single was hindered due to the death of Elvis Presley, which diverted RCA's promotional capabilities.[27] A second single, again written by Scott and Wolfe, was released soon after. The single in question, "It's a Heartache," became an international hit, reaching number four in the UK and number three in the U.S.[28][29] The song has become one of the best-selling singles of all time, with sales in excess of 6 million copies worldwide. "It's a Heartache" led to Tyler receiving a Bravo Otto award in Germany for Best Singer of 1977.[30]

Tyler's second studio album, Natural Force, was released in 1978, and was certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of over half a million copies.[31] "Here Am I" was released as a third single in the spring of 1978. But it failed to repeat the success of "It's a Heartache," only charting in Europe.

Natural Force included a cover of the Carole King song "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." King praised Tyler's recording after seeing her perform the song live in Los Angeles in 1978.[32] RCA released Tyler's first ever compilation album in 1978. The Hits of Bonnie Tyler reached the Top 10 in several European countries.[33]

1979–81: Diamond Cut and Goodbye to the Island[edit]

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. The album was described[by whom?] as "a charmer," but was said[by whom?] to lack "blockbuster" hits like "It's a Heartache."

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."[34] 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.[35]

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.[36] 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."[37]

Tyler's first tour of Japan took place in 1979.[38] 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.[39]

Both singles featured on Tyler's final studio album with RCA. Goodbye to the Island was released in 1981, recorded in the Algarve, Portugal.[40] AllMusic rated the album three stars out of five,[41] with other critics predicting that Tyler was "doomed to be a one-hit wonder."[42] 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."[43]

1982–85: Faster Than the Speed of Night[edit]

Tyler released four albums for RCA Records from 1977 to 1981, but she became increasingly dissatisfied with Scott's and Wolfe's management, who were trying to market her as a pop-country music artist. "I didn't even like it as I was recording it," Tyler told People Weekly Magazine. She spent the last eighteen months of her RCA contract at home, neither recording nor performing music.[44] When her contract with RCA expired, she signed with David Aspden Management. After seeing Meat Loaf's performance of "Bat Out of Hell" on The Old Grey Whistle Test, she approached Jim Steinman to be her new producer. She signed with Columbia Records in 1982. Tyler visited Steinman in his apartment in New York in April 1982 with her manager, where she was presented with two tracks, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" and "Goin' Through the Motions." In a newspaper interview in 1983, Tyler recalled:

He [Steinman] didn't tell me until later that if I hadn't liked those songs, he wouldn't have entertained producing me because he'd have realized we weren't thinking on the same terms.[44]

She returned to his studio apartment weeks later, where Steinman and Rory Dodd presented "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to her. Dodd would later sing the "turn around"'s on the single. Meat Loaf later claimed the song was originally written for him, but that Epic Records refused to pay Steinman's copyright fee.[45] Tyler denied this claim.[46] "Meat Loaf was apparently very annoyed that Jim gave that to me," Tyler stated. "But Jim said he didn’t write it for Meat Loaf, that he only finished it after meeting me."[47] The single became the most successful in Tyler's career, reaching No. 1 in the UK, Ireland, France, Australia and the United States, with its sales ultimately exceeding 9 million.[48] Reviews of the single were overwhelmingly positive, describing it as a "carefully crafted pop song."[5] An entire album was put together for a spring release in the following year.

The album from which "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was released, Faster Than the Speed of Night, was released in Europe in spring and in America in autumn 1983. It has been considered Tyler's "finest and most consistent achievement on record,"[42] reaching No. 1 in the UK and Norway. Her comeback on the US chart was at a time when almost one third of the Billboard Hot 100 was filled by songs from UK based acts – a situation not seen since the 1960s British Invasion and Beatlemania.[49] Reviews for the album were also positive, with the singles "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" being listed as the highlights.[5] A recent review by F Newsmagazine described a number of the tracks as "filler material," but drew out similarities between many of the tracks and other 1970s and 1980s hit singles.[50] Both "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and the album were nominated at the 1984 Grammy Awards; the single for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and the album for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. She performed the single live at the Grammy Awards. The success of the album led to her being offered to sing the title song for the James Bond film, Never Say Never Again. However, she disliked the song, and so it was passed on to American singer Lani Hall.[46] In addition, the BBC requested that Tyler represent the United Kingdom at the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest, though she turned this down also.[51][dubious ]

The following year, Tyler recorded "Here She Comes", written by Giorgio Moroder, for the 1984 restoration version of the science fiction film Metropolis. The song was nominated at the 1985 Grammy Awards for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.[52]

1986–87: Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire[edit]

Tyler continued to work with Steinman after the success of Faster Than the Speed of Night, and in 1986 she released her second album with him, titled Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire. The most successful single from this album was "Holding Out for a Hero," which was used for the soundtrack of Footloose and as the main theme for the 1984 US television series Cover Up, though the version heard on the TV series was not Tyler's original but performed by the singer E.G. Daily. The album was successful in Europe, but only reached No. 24 in the UK charts and did not make any impact in the American charts. The second single from Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire, "If You Were a Woman and I Was a Man," became another Top 10 hit in France in 1986 and was certified Silver. The song also reached number one in Venezuela. "Loving You's a Dirty Job but Somebody's Gotta Do It," a duet with Todd Rundgren, became the third single from the album, reaching number 6 in Spain.[53] The fourth and final single from the album was a cover of the Freda Payne song, "Band of Gold," which reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot Dance Breakouts Singles Sales and number 81 in the UK singles chart.

Despite its success, the album drew a negative reception from music critics. Doug Stone (of Allmusic) gave the album two stars. Beginning with "[the album is] not totally unique," he went on to say that it was substandard compared with Faster Than the Speed of Night.[54]

1988-90: Hide Your Heart[edit]

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 was a success in Europe, but 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.[55]

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.[56] 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."[57]

1991–94: Success in Europe[edit]

German producer and songwriter Dieter Bohlen reached out to Tyler in 1991, proposing a collaboration. She was reluctant to record Bohlen's songs at first, having been used to recording rock music. He was able to persuade Tyler, arguing that she "[will] just have to be a bit more commercial."[58] Tyler signed a recording contract with Hansa Records, releasing her eighth album Bitterblue on 11 November 1991.[59]

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.[59] 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."[60]

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 Europe, receiving an award for "Catchy Song of the Year" from RSH-GOLD in Germany.[61] The album was certified 4× Platinum in Norway for sales of over 200,000.[62] It sold a further 250,000 copies in Germany.[63] Combining all the album's certifications, "Bitterblue" has sold over half a million copies since its release.[64][65][66]

Tyler in Moscow, Russia, 6 May 1997.

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),[62] IFPI Austria (Gold),[64] IFPI Switzerland (Gold) and the BMVI (Gold).[63][66] Echoing "Bitterblue," the album's lead single "Fools Lullaby" was a European success, charting highest in Norway at No. 6.[67] 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.[68]

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.[46] Allmusic described it as "a great collection." The Very Best of Bonnie Tyler was certified Platinum by the BMVI.[63]

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 by the IFPI Norway.[62] 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."[69] 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.[68]

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.[70] Tyler's conctract with Hansa Records expired at the end of the year.

1995–99: Free Spirit, All in One Voice and decline[edit]

Tyler performing on stage in Moscow, Russia, 9 May 1999.

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."[71] 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.[4] 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.[72] The single featured Tyler's mother's operatic vocals on the intro to the song.[73] (The Australian duo Air Supply recorded and released its own version of "Making Love Out of Nothing at All," which charted in the United States.)

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.[74] 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."[4]

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).

2000–03: Greatest Hits and Heart Strings[edit]

In 2001, Tyler released a Greatest Hits compilation in conjunction with her 50th birthday. The compilation charted well in Europe, reaching No. 2 in Norway, No. 5 in Denmark, No. 9 in Sweden and No. 18 in the United Kingdom. The compilation was certified silver in the UK, Gold in Spain and Sweden, and platinum in Norway. The success of the compilation allowed Tyler to tour Europe before beginning plans for her thirteenth studio album.

Bonnie Tyler with Matt Prior in an acoustic concert in Soria, Spain (20 July 2006).

In 2002, EMI Music suggested Tyler create an album consisting of covers that she would select, accompanied by an orchestra. She had recently worked with Karl Jenkins at Night of the Proms 2002, and asked him to make arrangement for 13 tracks that she selected for the album.[16] All the tracks were originally recorded by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Jenkins) at Smecky Music Studios in Prague, and Tyler and her band then added their layers at The Engine Room in London between June and September 2002. First released that year, Heart & Soul was later released internationally under the name Heart Strings in March of the following year.[75] The lead single, "Against All Odds," originally written, composed, and performed by Phil Collins as the theme from the film Against All Odds, was followed by a promotional single, "Amazed" (originally by Lonestar), and two more singles--Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers's "Learning to Fly" and a re-release of "Amazed." Heart Strings charted reasonably well in Europe, charting highest in Norway (No. 29), and was met with positive reviews. A Cardiff newspaper gave the album three stars, highlighting her rendition of The Beatles's song "In My Life" as being interpreted "with all her husky passion."[76] Reviewers from the Sunday Mercury stated that hit had "few surprises, [but] it's very listenable,"[77] and French company Rainbow Booking AS described how the album "place[d] Bonnie into a new sound universe," with reference to the combination of traditional rock instruments and the orchestra.[78] The Heart Strings Tour in Germany followed between April and May 2003, and Tyler headlined in the 2003 Donauinselfest.

It was around this time that Tyler re-approached her live concert format, and began touring Europe with her lead guitarist Matt Prior. They appeared at the Rock for Asia concert in 2005.[79]

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.[53][80] The success of the single was considered to be Tyler's comeback in France, and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from music critics.[81][82]

2004–05: Simply Believe and Wings[edit]

Tyler and Antonn released a second hit single, "Si tout s'arrête (It's A Heartache)," in 2004.[53] 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.[73]

Bonnie Tyler with Matt Prior in an acoustic concert in "Familiengarten Eberswalde" (27 May 2006).

"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.[83] 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.[46] With her main songwriting team consisting of herself, Paul D. Fitzgerald and Karen Drotar, they crafted two singles, "Louise"[84] 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.[85]

Tyler was awarded with a Steiger Award in Dortmund, Germany in 2005 – a lifetime achievement award for her success in the music business.[86]

2006–11: From the Heart: Greatest Hits and Best of 3 CD[edit]

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.[87] At the same approximate time, she collaborated with the punk group BabyPinkStar to record a new version of the same song.[88] 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[89] and No. 31 in the UK.[72] She also appeared in an episode of the British TV game show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Bonnie Tyler at the sound check for her concert in Dolina Charlotty, Poland, 1 May 2011.

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.[90] She performed the title song on the opening night in the Grand Theatre, Swansea.[91] 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.[90] 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.[92] In the following year, Tyler appeared in a television advertisement for MasterCard singing a parody of "Total Eclipse of the Heart."[93] 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."[94] 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.[95]

A sample of Wayne Warner and Bonnie Tyler's 2010 single "Something Going On," a prelude to Tyler's return to country music with her 2013 album Rocks and Honey.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

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."[96] 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.[97] 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.[98]

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.[33] It was first released to French radio stations on 29 August 2011.[99]

2012–14: Rocks and Honey and the Eurovision Song Contest[edit]

Tyler live in Berlin, 30 June 2012.

Tyler travelled to Nashville, Tennessee with her manager in early 2012 to scout for new material to record. A total of 13 tracks were recorded in the Blackbird Studios in Nashville in the following months, which were later mixed in studios in Los Angeles. The album title, Rocks and Honey, was announced in an interview with Tyler in Norway in July of the same year,[100] and was declared complete in December 2012 during an interview on an Australian TV show.[101]

Tyler during a rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden on 15 May 2013.

Amidst the news of the upcoming album, Tyler also recorded a duet with Rolf Harris at Dean Street Studios in August 2012. Their track, "Loch Lomond," was expected to be released on his upcoming album, His Favourite Folk Songs.[102] A previously unreleased recording from the 1990s appeared on SoundCloud in March 2012, entitled "Never Gonna Take No for an Answer," written by British songwriter Martin Brown and Tyler's bassist and member of Romeo's Daughter, Ed Poole.[103] She also appeared on three of Status Quo's UK tour dates in December 2012 as a guest performer.[104] The tour received positive reviews. One reviewer described Tyler's performance of the Janis Joplin track "Turtle Blues" as one of the highlight moments of her set.[105]

Following this, Tyler's career then completely focused on the release of her sixteenth studio album, and while appearing on a New Year's Eve broadcast concert in Germany, she performed the track "All I Ever Wanted" for the first time.[106] While on stage, she announced that Rocks and Honey would be released in February 2013,[106] though around the same time she was approached by the BBC to represent the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden, which delayed the album's release by a month. The official announcement was made on 7 March 2013, and that she would perform "Believe in Me" at the Grand Final on 18 May.[68] A total of 39 countries competed in the contest, with the United Kingdom finishing 19th out of 26. During an interview she gave weeks after the contest, Tyler spoke out against the incidents at the contest that year, and after being asked if she believed that the contest was rigged, she replied, "I think so."[107] Despite extensive promotional support, the single failed to significantly impact the UK charts, only reaching number 93.[72]

Tyler visiting the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Moscow, 14 December 2013 to plan her concert at the Crocus City Hall on 31 January 2014.[108]

Rocks and Honey was well received by music critics and received two 5 star ratings.[109][110] All thirteen tracks were brand new, selected by Tyler when she had visited several Nashville-based music publishers in the previous year. Notable songwriters include Frank J. Myers, Desmond Child, Brett James and Beth Hart.[111] The album charted reasonably well in Europe, reaching number 28 in Denmark, number 52 in the United Kingdom and number 59 in both Germany and Switzerland.[72] After the Eurovision Song Contest finished, Tyler moved on to other projects, continuing promotion of the new album in France and releasing a new compilation, All The Hits.[112] She also showed interest in touring with Rocks and Honey in the UK and France, though nothing had yet been confirmed as of 7 May 2015. In August 2013, the second single from the album, "This Is Gonna Hurt," was released, and was 'B' listed on BBC Radio 2's airplay playlist. She has since performed the track in concerts including the NDR Summer Tour in Germany on 27 July 2013. A positive review was written after the concert.[113] "This Is Gonna Hurt" failed to chart worldwide. On 16 September, however, it was announced by Labrador Music that "Love Is the Knife" would be the third single, and would be performed on the Danish TV show, "Charlies Hjertegalla" broadcast on Danish TV2, along with another one of her hit singles. This single also failed to chart.

Tyler completed her South Africa Tour 2013 in September 2013 with her band, which included two sell-out shows in Johannesburg at the Emperors Palace Hotel & Casino. She performed four new tracks from Rocks and Honey and also visited several tourist sites around Cape Town towards the end of the tour, which marked 20 years since her last concert in the country. The tour was widely reported by South African media.[114][115][116][117] Upon her return to the United Kingdom, Tyler visited the BBC Radio 2 studios in London to record for the "Tracks of My Years" segments on Ken Bruce's morning show, which lasted for five days beginning on the week commencing 9 September 2013.[12] In the following week, Faster Than the Speed of Night, the most successful of Tyler's albums, was re-titled "Faster Than the Speed of Night (Alben für die Ewigkeit)" under a re-release marking the 30th anniversary of its release in the United States in 1983.[118] In the following month, Tyler's latest compilation, The Collection, was also released under the Sony Music banner.[119]

After album promotion in South Africa, Tyler travelled to Russia for the regional release of Rocks and Honey. She performed in the Crocus City Hall, Moscow, on 31 January 2013.[108] While in Portugal, Tyler was asked to appear on Surprised! The Show in Barcelona on 20 February 2014. It remained secret that Tyler would appear on the show; she performed "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Holding Out for a Hero" in Teatre Principal to the audience, and was met with positive reviews from the press.[120][121] She visited Swansea University a week later to celebrate their 'Welcome to Wales Food Festival,' and performed a few traditional Welsh songs with the Gwalia Choir.[122] Tyler performed "Holding Out for a Hero" live on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway on 22 March as part of the "Sing Along Live" segment of the show.[123]

2015: Live work and recent recordings[edit]

Since the release of Rocks and Honey, Tyler spent her time performing at live concerts, and also recorded two new duets. The first was an Italian-English version of "Miserere" with Rhydian Roberts, for his album One Day like This, which was released on 14 April 2014.[124] Tyler was also involved in a tribute project for Scottish singer-songwriter Frankie Miller, put together by British rock singer Spike. The album, called 100% Pure Frankie Miller, contained a duet between Tyler and Spike titled "Fortune." The album was released on 8 September 2014.[125][126] PlanetMosh described Tyler's voice as the female equivalent to Spike's, and that they sang in "perfect harmony."[127]

Meat Loaf expressed interest[when?] in collaborating with Tyler for his upcoming album Braver Than We Are, which was slated to include contributions from Jim Steinman. Meat Loaf and Steinman recruited Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito for duets, and Meat Loaf told Starpulse, "I am going to talk to Jimmy [Steinman] and see whether he wants to use Bonnie Tyler or the girl who did 'Anything For Love,' Lorraine (Crosby)."[128] (Patricia "Patty" Russo, who did service as the female vocalist on "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" in lieu of Crosby for live performances, was not known, as of 8 May 2015, to have been approached for the Braver Than We Are album project.)



Born into a musical family, Tyler grew up listening to a wide range of musical genres.[12] One of Tyler's earliest musical memories was listening to her mother singing opera music in the family home. Tyler attended church until she was sixteen years old. Her first ever performance was singing "All Things Bright and Beautiful" in church.[129] She was also exposed to the music of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and other 60s bands due to her siblings's musical tastes.[12] Frankie Miller was the first live act that Tyler saw, and she later recorded duets with him.[130]

Tyler's two biggest influences from a young age were Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. She cites "River Deep – Mountain High" as being her all-time favourite song.[12] Other artists that influenced Tyler in her youth include Aretha Franklin,[12] Wilson Pickett,[46] Meat Loaf,[12] Joe Cocker,[12] Dusty Springfield[12] and Tommy Steele.[12]

In the later years of her career, Tyler listened to artists from various genres, such as rock band Guns & Roses,[12][79] pop singers Anastacia, Toni Braxton and Duffy,[13][46] and hip hop artist Eminem. She has also expressed interest in collaborating with Adele, whom she describes as "a great song writer, singer and performer."[131]

Vocal style[edit]

Tyler's music contains elements of country, rock, pop, blues and Celtic. Her voice has had her compared to Rod Stewart and Kim Carnes as a result of her vocal nodules operation in the 1970s,[4] sometimes even being referenced as "the female Rod Stewart,"[132] and, after her collaborations with Jim Steinman, "the female Meat Loaf."[133] Soon after her operation, when recording her second album, Natural Force, the studio band complimented Tyler's changed voice.[134] Reviewers from AllMusic have described Tyler's voice as "inimitable,"[85] "wonderfully gritty,"[135] and an "effective instrument" for drawing notice to her first managers, Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe.[136]

In a review of Rocks and Honey, OMH Media described Tyler's vocals as being "good for only one thing and that’s belting out gravely vocals," suggesting that she sounds like Johnny Cash in his later years when she "tries to restrain [her voice]."[137] With reference to her modern voice, The Yorkshire Times wrote, "has the gritty vocal of Bonnie Tyler still got what it takes to make you tingle? The simple answer is YES!"[109] Jim Steinman told People magazine that he wrote "Total Eclipse of the Heart" as a "showpiece for [Tyler's] voice."[138] AllMusic said that Tyler's voice "produced the perfect type of "desperate lovelorn" effect to suit the romantic lyrics."[139]


Though songwriting has never been a significant part of Tyler's career, she has co-written a handful of B-Sides and other tracks. "Gonna Get Better," a B-Side to the 1980 Japanese single "Sayonara Tokyo," was written with her brother, Paul Hopkins.[140]

In 2001, Tyler co-wrote four songs with Gary Pickford-Hopkins on his GPH album, and duetted with him on the track "Loving You Means Leaving You."[141] Tyler was also involved in writing several tracks for her 2005 album Wings, including its singles "Louise" and "Celebrate."[142]


Kareen Antonn with Bonnie Tyler live at La Cigale in Paris, France, 8 June 2005.

Bonnie Tyler has collaborated on a number of tracks between 1983 and 2014.

Early collaborations[edit]

Tyler did not record any duets while signed to RCA Records between 1976 and 1980, when her contract ended. Her first two duets were released in 1983. She recorded "When Love Attacks" with Rick Derringer for his rock album Good Dirty Fun.[143] She also recorded "Tears" with Frankie Miller for her own album Faster Than the Speed of Night. In 1985, she recorded "A Rockin' Good Way (to Mess Around and Fall in Love)" with Shakin' Stevens for his album The Bop Won't Stop. The song was released as a single, and made it to number one in Ireland.

In 1987, Tyler recorded vocals for the Mike Oldfield single "Islands," which was a European chart hit. Tyler stated that she was disappointed with the end result. "When I recorded that song, it was a lot longer, they edited so much out of it. I think they edited the best parts out of it," she told Swansea Sound in a 1988 interview.[144] She performed the song with Oldfield at the 1987 Goldene Europa Awards. In the same year, she also recorded "Loving You's a Dirty Job but Somebody's Gotta Do It," which was sung with Todd Rundgren, and released as a single from her album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire. Tyler also recorded backing vocals with Darlene Love on "Perfection," a song from Cher's self-titled album.[145] She also recorded backing vocals with Michael Bolton for the song "Emotional Fire," which was released on Cher's 1989 album Heart of Stone.[146]

Later collaborations[edit]

For the soundtrack of the animated TV show The Dreamstone (1990), Tyler recorded "Into The Sunset" with songwriter Mike Batt.[147] She recorded three duets on her Hansa Records albums in the 1990s. The first duets were "Heaven Is Here" with producer Giorgio Moroder, and "Till the End of Time" with Dan Hartman, both released on Bitterblue (1991). She later recorded her second duet with Frankie Miller, "Save Your Love," which was released on her album Angel Heart (1993). She also collaborated with Jim Steinman again in the late 1990s, recording "Tyre Tracks and Broken Hearts" for the concept album of Steinman's and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Whistle Down The Wind. She also provided vocals at the end of Meat Loaf's "A Kiss Is a Terrible Thing to Waste" track.

Tyler recorded "Live for Love" (commonly known as "Vivo per lei") with Andrea Bocelli for her album All in One Voice (1998), which was expected to be released as a single. The song charted as duets between Bocelli and Giorgia, Marta Sanchez, Judy Weiss and Hélène Ségara, though the version with Tyler was never released due to "disagreements" between record companies.[148]

In 2000, Tyler recorded "Tables Turn" with Mal Pope for his album The Ring.[149] In 2010, she recorded "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" with Albert Hammond on his album Legend (2010).[150] In the same year, she also released "Something Going On" with Australian Country singer Wayne Warner,[151] and a hip hop version of "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" with Canadian singer Matt Pétrin.[152]

Tyler recorded "What You Need from Me" with Vince Gill for her album Rocks and Honey (2013). The song inspired the title of the album, referring to her raspy voice, and his clear voice. Tyler's latest duet with Frankie Miller was due to be released in September 2014.[125]

Bilingual duets[edit]

Tyler has recorded several bilingual duets. The first release came in 1986; "Sem Limites Pra Sonhar" with Brazilian singer Fabio Jr. The song was a hit single in South America. Fabio recorded his vocals in Portuguese, and Tyler's entirely in English. She did the same in 1992, when "Pethaino Stin Erimia" (written in English as "The Desert Is in Your Heart") was released as a Greek single with Sofia Arvaniti.

In 2003, as stated above, Tyler was approached by French singer Kareen Antonn to record a bilingual version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." The track was titled "Si demain..." and reached the top of the French charts for ten weeks. This was the first duet in which Tyler also sang in another language. On her 2011 compilation Best of 3 CD, Antonn's vocals were replaced by backing singer, Fanny Llado, who had contributed backing vocals to Tyler's albums Simply Believe (2004) and Wings (2005). In 2004, Tyler recorded vocals in English and German on "Vergiss Es (Forget It)," sung with Matthias Reim. They also recorded "Die Wilden Tränen (Salty Rain)," which was featured on Reim's 2010 album Sieben Leben (Seven Lives). In the following year, she recorded a French/English version of The Bangles's hit "Eternal Flame" on her Best of 3 CD compilation with French singer Laura Zen.

Tyler's latest bilingual duet was recorded with Rhydian Roberts. They sung "Miserere" in English and Italian for his 2014 album One Day like This. "For the past six years [I] have longed to record ["Miserere"] with her," Roberts wrote in the CD sleeve of his album. "When I first sent it to her, she phoned me saying it's one of the most beautiful songs she had ever heard. She'd been in tears as it had reminded her of her mum because she used to be an opera singer and would have loved the song." Rhydian described it as one of his favourite duet recordings to date.[153]


Studio albums[edit]


Though Tyler has had an extensive recording career, she views the live concert aspect to be the main part of her career.[131] She has embarked upon five official tours:

Tyler's live band currently consists of these personnel:

  • Keith Atack (born 5 April 1959) is one of two lead guitarists in Tyler's band, and is also a member of the Eagles tribute band "The Illegal Eagles."[154]
  • Matt Prior is the second lead guitarist from Tyler's band. He co-produced her 2003 album Heart Strings with Tyler's at-the-time manager David Aspen, and has also worked with musicians such as Nick Mason, Paul Carrack and Mickey Most.[155]
  • Ed Poole is the bassist in Tyler's band. Poole is a solo recording artist as well as bass player for the rock band Romeo's Daughter.[156]
  • John Young (born 31 May 1956) has been playing keyboards in Tyler's band since 1993, and is also leader of The John Young Band. Young recently formed a new band named Lifesigns. Their debut album of the same name was released in January 2013.[157]
  • Grahame Rolfe is the band's drummer and percussionist.

Participation in other artists's tours[edit]


Bonnie Tyler featured on a 2007 charity album called Over the Rainbow. The event was filmed and shown on the British TV series Challenge Anneka, in which presenter Anneka Rice was set the challenge of putting together a thirteen-track compilation album made up of songs from musicals in five days and organise a promotional concert for the release of the CD. The proceeds went to the Chase Trust disabled children's charity. Tyler selected "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from one of her favourite musicals, Jesus Christ Superstar.[160]

On 1 November 2009, Tyler joined artists including Escala, Joss Stone and Bananarama in a charity concert in support of breast cancer research. It was held at the Royal Albert Hall as a fundraiser for Pinktober.[161] The following year, Tyler headlined in a New Zealand charity variety show alongside Leo Sayer.[162][163]

In November 2012, Tyler donated a diamante-studded denim jacket to help raise funds for the at-the-time missing five-year-old April Jones.[164] For the 2013 BBC Children in Need charity appeal, Tyler re-recorded "Holding Out for a Hero" for two promotional clips, with the motto 'Be a Hero' to encourage the public in the charity's fundraising campaign.[165]

Local charity[edit]

In Portugal, Tyler was named as the patron of the Guia-based AAG (Animal Charity Association), which helps injured, hungry and distressed street animals through the likes of feeding programmes and veterinary care.[166]

In Wales, Tyler became a supporter and ambassador of Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre in the 1990s.[167] On 11 June 2013, she nominated the charity for the Pride of Britain Awards.[164] She supported Swansea Bay being named the "City of Culture 2017" in November 2013.[168][169] As the patron of The Noah’s Ark Appeal (raising money for the Children's Hospital, Cardiff), Tyler attended the Coral Welsh Grand National in Chepstow, Wales on 28 December 2013.[170] Tyler performed at a tribute event marking a year since the passing of singer Gary Pickford-Hopkins. The event was held in Swansea on 19 June 2014, where Tyler performed alongside her brother Paul Hopkins.[171]

Personal life[edit]


Since 1988, Tyler and her husband, property developer Robert Sullivan, have owned a five-bedroom home in Albufeira in the Algarve.[172] Tyler had recorded one of her albums there in the late 1970s, and the couple had spent the better part of the year there.[173] In 2005, Tyler was filmed in the Algarve for a short Polish entertainment TV show called Zacisze gwiazd, which explores the houses of actors and musicians.[174]

Tyler and her property-development husband 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.[175][176] 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 owns a quarry with her husband.[177]


Tyler and her husband Robert Sullivan decided to try to have a baby when she was aged 39. But Tyler miscarried and did not conceive again.[10]
Some of Tyler's siblings have also had some success in the music business. Her brother, Paul Hopkins, is lead singer of the local Swansea band Sunshine Cab Co. He co-wrote most of Tyler's 1980s B-sides, including "Time" and "Gonna Get Better," as well as composing some tracks for her albums, such as "The Reason Why" from All in One Voice. Tyler's sister, Avis Hopkins, featured on Mal Pope's musical soundtrack of Cappuccino Girls, singing the track "Today's My Birthday." Avis Hopkins changed her name in the 1980s to Amanda Scott and released the track "Lies" in 1988.

Through her husband, Tyler is related to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and attended her wedding to Michael Douglas, performing "Total Eclipse of the Heart."[178]


Achievements and musical career[edit]

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "It's a Heartache" have estimated sales of over 6 million units each, and are amongst the best-selling singles of all time.[179][180]

Tyler's previous manager, David Aspden, aimed to target the UK and US music markets in the 1980s, though her success there fluctuated. He decided to base Tyler in Germany, where at the time the Berlin Wall was in place. "We used to go through Checkpoint Charlie in East Germany. We must have gone through Checkpoint Charlie at least 20 times. The people weren't allowed to listen to normal radio, they weren't allowed to look at any European television and they weren't allowed to buy records. But when the wall came down, Bonnie's sales absolutely doubled overnight, it was incredible. They had access to the music, and they never forgot how she sacrificed going to East Germany, where nobody else would go," Tyler's husband stated.[83]

She was also one of the first western artists to tour the Soviet Union.[181]

Guinness World Records[edit]

In 2004, Guinness World Records published British Hit Singles and Albums, which claimed that Tyler was the first British female to debut at number one in the UK Albums Chart with Faster Than the Speed of Night in 1983.[6] This caused some confusion, since Kate Bush’s album, Never for Ever, had debuted in the Number One position in 1980.[182] However, Tyler’s record was that she was the first female British artist to debut at number one with her first album, Bush having had several albums chart in the UK prior to the release of Never for Ever.

Awards, nominations and accolades[edit]

Tyler's first major award was received at the 10th World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo in 1979, where Tyler represented the United Kingdom with her single "Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean." She went on to win three Goldene Europa awards, one Echo Award, and a Steiger Award for lifetime achievement. In addition, she received three Grammy nominations in the 1980s, and three Brit Award nominations.

After the Eurovision Song Contest 2013, Eurovision Song Contest Radio hosted their annual awards, where Tyler was the first United Kingdom representative to receive an award. She won Best Song (with "Believe in Me") and Best Female Singer.[183]

In addition to her music awards, Tyler has received local honours in Wales, and became freeman of Neath Port Talbot in 2011 for her "lifelong worldwide contribution in the field of entertainment." Swansea University presented Tyler with an honorary degree in July 2013; she was made a doctor of literature.[184] In October 2013, Tyler was presented with the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors' (BASCA) award in the Savoy Hotel.[185]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Engelbert Humperdinck
with "Love Will Set You Free"
UK in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Molly Smitten-Downes
with "Children of the Universe"