Straight from the Heart

An exclusive Tomorrow interview with the legendary Bonnie Tyler.

Bonnie Tyler’s been a household name for nearly 50 years and yet she still has the professionalism and the generosity of spirit to arrive early for our interview. No waiting around and ‘no airs and graces’. This friendly, humble approach – along with her fantastic voice and wonderful stage presence – goes some way to explaining her phenomenal success and enduring popularity. 

We last featured Bonnie in August 2021. In the two years since she’s toured South America, produced a much-awaited memoir (due out in September) and has been busy preparing for her next tour, which will be a celebration of her signature song, Total Eclipse of the Heart. If all that wasn’t enough, earlier this year, she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). 

Let’s start with the MBE. “It came completely out of the blue,” said Bonnie. “The letter was sent to my record company and I couldn’t believe it when they told me. On the day of the ceremony, I was so nervous, but I needn’t have been.

Prince William was so nice and put me at ease by saying how lovely it was to see me again. He’d remembered we’d met earlier in the year when I performed in Cardiff for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.” As Bonnie said at the time, “My receiving an MBE proves anyone from any background can become a success.” 

Bonnie was born Gaynor Hopkins in Skewen, Wales, to father Glyndŵr and mother Elsie Hopkins. She grew up in a four-bedroom council house with three sisters and two brothers. After leaving school with no formal qualifications, she began working in a grocery store and, in 1969, entered a local talent contest where she finished in an encouraging second place. Shortly thereafter, she decided to pursue a career in singing. It was in 1976 when Bonnie first came to national prominence with the hit single, Lost in France. There was no looking back. 

It was in the mid-1970s that Bonnie and her husband, Robert, first visited the Algarve. They both fell in love with the area, describing it as “a magical place”. They still have the same house they purchased back then, near Albufeira, albeit it has undergone major renovations since, transforming it into a modern state-of-the-art property. 

As much as Bonnie loves Portugal and its people, she still regards Wales as ‘home’ and with her being part of such a close family, it’s easy to understand why. Regrettably, the last two years have also brought sorrow, with Bonnie losing her much-loved brother, Lynn. Bonnie has always stayed close to her family in Wales and, as far as they are concerned, she will always be the Gaynor Hopkins they grew up with in that council house in Wales. Bonnie would have it no other way.  

Lost in France was followed by It’s a Heartache, which reached the Top 10 both in the UK and the USA. Albums and singles followed – including an album recorded here in the Algarve. It was in 1983 when stardom turned to mega-stardom with the release of Total Eclipse of the Heart, one of the most famous power ballads of all time. It reached the number 1 spot in the UK and the USA (and many other countries, too), with Bonnie making history by becoming the first Welsh singer to top the charts in the USA. 

Total Eclipse of the Heart has special meaning to Bonnie and is the basis of her forthcoming tour, celebrating the 40th anniversary of its release. The song only came about because of Bonnie’s perseverance. She asked her management team to see if Jim Steinman would produce her next album – Steinman was in the midst of his own global success producing Meat Loaf and Bonnie’s team doubted he would agree, but as Bonnie said to them, “How do you know if you don’t even ask?” 

Steinman not only agreed but went on to write and produce Total Eclipse of the Heart. He also wrote and produced Bonnie’s other global hit, Holding Out for a Hero. Bonnie looks back on her time working with Steinman fondly, telling me he had a clear idea how the song should be produced and that it was originally a whopping eight minutes long before he edited it back to a more radio-friendly four-and-a-half minutes. 

And so here we are, 40 years later, with Bonnie preparing for the Total Eclipse of the Heart concert tour. It starts in October and features more than 30 concerts, taking in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and France. Even before then, she has another thirteen dates scheduled, including two in Portugal – 21 September in Lisbon and 23 September in Braga. I asked Bonnie how she prepares for such a gruelling schedule. “I’ve been with the same band for 30 years, so some of it is second nature, but we still rehearse in advance and at the venue the day before. When I’m on tour like this, I speak to my vocal coach on a daily basis.” 

Bonnie’s website offers the latest news regarding the tour, including how to buy tickets. There’s also information on the numerous charities she supports, including her patronage of the Guia-based AAG (Animal Charity Foundation), which helps injured, hungry and distressed street animals. 

I asked Bonnie what messages she has for readers of Tomorrow. “Come to a show!” she said. “I might be seventy-two, but I still know how to rock!”. She certainly does and despite all her success, she still knows how to be a thoroughly entertaining and likeable lady. It was a real pleasure to speak, once again, with the legendary Bonnie Tyler. 

Total Eclipse of the Heart has special meaning to Bonnie and is the basis of her forthcoming tour, celebrating the 40th anniversary of its release.

Bonnie’s eagerly awaited memoir is out in late September and is titled, Straight from the Heart

‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ facts:

  • More than one billion views on YouTube.
  • Number 1 in the USA charts for four weeks.
  • More than six-million copies sold.
  • Nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 1983 Grammy Awards. Won the ‘Best Single’ in the UK’s Variety Club awards.
  • At its peak, it sold 60,000 copies per day.
  • Topped the single charts in the USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK.

Photos © Tia Korhonen earMUSIC


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