Bonnie Tyler biography

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Last updated: 17 November 2008

A multi-platinum international success story, Bonnie Tyler started with a local talent competition.

Video: Bonnie performing Lost In France in 1977.

She came second and, although the prize money was just £1, her victory gave Bonnie the confidence to start singing seriously. As she says, "The excitement made me want to do it again. I really loved singing, and that competition started it all for me."

Who'd have thought I'd end up like this? I always wanted to be in a band but never guessed it'd turn out so well... I love my life and wouldn't swap it for anything.

Bonnie Tyler

Following the contest, Bonnie continued to play the pubs and clubs of South Wales, first with Bobby Wayne & The Dixies, and later with soul group Imagination. She recorded her debut single, My! My! Honeycomb, in 1975, and the following year was spotted by talent scout Roger Bell, who saw her singing in Swansea using the stage name Sherene Davis.

A record deal with RCA followed, but tragedy nearly struck when Bonnie underwent surgery to remove nodules on her vocal chords - an operation that enhanced her already distinctively husky voice.

Teaming up with writer/producer Ronnie Scott, she recorded her debut single Lost In France. It was an international hit, going top 10 in Britain and becoming a million-seller in America. But her first album The World Starts Tonight was a commercial failure.

The setback didn't last long, though. The single It's A Heartache was released at the end of 1977. It was a worldwide smash, and remains her biggest selling single. Bonnie became a crossover talent, being played on pop, country and soul radio stations.

A couple of years without chart success followed, but in 1983, Bonnie began to work with Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman. His overblown bombastic style fitted her perfectly, and resulted in her first and only number one single, the power ballad Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

The album Faster Than The Speed Of Night, also produced by Steinman, was the first album by a female artist to debut at number one in Britain, and heralded a new rock style for Bonnie.

She had duetted with fellow Welsh legend Shakin' Stevens the previous year, with a cover of the Brook Benton and Dinah Washington song A Rockin' Good Way, and further Jim Steinman collaborations yielded more hits, including the album Secret Dreams And Forbidden Fire and the 1986 number two single Holding Out For A Hero.

The single successes began to dry up, but she continued to release albums by the bucketload. Tours were less common, although an infamous appearance at the 1988 Reading Festival deserves mention.

Already screwed somewhat by having to follow Starship on the bill, Bonnie came on stage to catcalls and boos. Bottles began to fly as she started her set, but she held her ground. Legend has it that her half-hour performance was faultless, save her sporadic curses at the audience whenever a missile hit her. Meat Loaf, on the other hand, came on after her and only lasted five minutes. What a big nancy.

Although the hits were no longer coming, Bonnie continued to release records and tour extensively. Albums including Bitterblue, Angel Heart and All In One Voice showed she was still a formidable singer, but it's still live that she's at her best.

She performed Total Eclipse Of The Heart at the opening of the Welsh Assembly in 1999. That same year that she recorded a special version of the song, titled Total Eclipse Of The Sun, to commemorate the solar eclipse, and performed the theme tune to the BBC Wales drama Jack Of Hearts - though neither of these were given proper releases.

In January 2007 a collaboration with Sheffield band BabyPinkStar brought Total Eclipse Of The Heart into the 21st century.

In March 2013 she was selected to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest, performing the song Believe In Me by American songwriter Desmond Child.

It's a testament to her enduring appeal that Bonnie Tyler is one of the best remembered singers from Wales. As she herself puts it, "I have never gone out of fashion. And do you know why? Because I never sought it. When you don't seek it, it's always with you."


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