Recognized for her distinctly raspy voice and soulful pop repertoire, Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler had her first worldwide hit in 1978 with "It's a Heartache" from her second album, Natural Force. Characteristic of her work in the '70s, it blended elements of country, rock, and pop. Leaving signs of country behind, she struck recording-industry gold a second time with 1983's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" from fifth LP Faster Than the Speed of Night. A U.K. number one that reached a career-high number four in the States, its unforgettably formidable climax assured the song's place among the iconic songs of '80s soft rock. The following year, her single "Holding Out for a Hero" from the soundtrack to Footloose proved to be her final U.S. Top 40 hit. Tyler maintained a regular release schedule thereafter; 1992's Angel Heart and 2003's orchestra-accompanied Heart Strings were among those that earned her continued chart placements in Europe. After embracing a grittier blues-rock sound on much of her 15th studio album, 2005's Wings, as well as on 2013's Rocks and Honey, she returned to the Billboard 200 for the first time since the '80s with The Very Best of Bonnie Tyler in 2017.
Born Gaylor Hopkins in Skewen, Wales in 1951, Bonnie Tyler was encouraged to pursue a singing career after placing second in a local talent contest as a teen. She performed off and on in her home country as a backing singer and in R&B groups including Mumbles and Imagination before some solo demos led to a contract with RCA Records. The lead single from her debut, 1976's "Lost in France," became a Top 10 hit in the U.K. The follow-up "More Than a Lover" reached number 27 before the album, The World Starts Tonight, saw release in February 1977.
After recording The World Starts Tonight, Tyler developed nodules on her vocal chords that required surgery and months of recovery. The ordeal left her with an unusually husky voice that proved an effective instrument and drew notice from writer/producers Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe, who became her managers. Tyler scored an international hit with their song "It's a Heartache," which was released in late 1977. It topped the charts in places such as Canada, Australia, and France and reached the Top Five in the U.S. and the U.K. It appeared on her second album, Natural Force, which followed in 1978 and peaked at number 16 on the Billboard 200. She stayed with RCA, Scott, and Wolfe for 1979's Diamond Cut -- which hit number 42 on the Billboard country chart -- and 1981's Goodbye to the Island. Not happy with the attempt to steer her into country music, she decided to part ways with her team once her contract expired.
Tyler then signed with Columbia and sought out Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman, hoping for material with his trademark epic sound. She got it with the ballad "Total Eclipse of the Heart," which was recorded with E Street Band members Max Weinberg on drums and Roy Bittan on keyboards, along with guitarist Rick Derringer and backing vocalist Rory Dodd. The song spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983 and helped the LP Faster Than the Speed of Night sell over a million copies and debut at number one in the U.K., where the title track also became a hit.
A song for the blockbuster Footloose soundtrack, "Holding Out for a Hero," followed in 1984 and peaked at number 34 in the U.S. That same year, she charted outside of the Top 40 with the single "Here She Comes," a song written by Giorgio Moroder and Peter Bellote for the soundtrack to a restoration of the 1927 film Metropolis. Featuring collaborations with Desmond Child and Todd Rundgren, her sixth studio album, Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire, reached number 106 in the U.S. and 94 in Canada, going all the way to the top of the album chart in Norway. Child returned to produce what would be Tyler's last album with Columbia, 1988's Hide Your Heart. It reached number 78 in the U.K. but did not manage to chart in the U.S.
With contributions from Giorgio Moroder, Nik Kershaw, and Albert Hammond, Tyler had a European hit with Bitterblue in 1991 for German label Hansa. She stayed with Hansa for 1992's Angel Heart and the next year's Silhouette in Red, both recorded with producer Dieter Bohlen.
The singer's 11th album, Free Spirit, arrived via EastWest Records in Europe in 1995 before being reissued by Atlantic in the U.S. in 1996. With production by Harold Faltermeyer, Mike Batt, and Jimmy Smyth, All in One Voice followed on EastWest in 1998. It was a rarity for Tyler in that it failed to chart worldwide. After receiving a limited release in Denmark by EMI in 2002, Heart Strings was given a wider release by CMC Records, returning her to the charts in several European countries in 2003. With two French-language duets with Kareen Antonn included, Simply Believe was a minor hit for Sony in France, Belgium, and Switzerland in 2004. Featuring an edgier, guitar-based sound, Wings followed in 2005 on Stick Music in Europe. A U.K. release under the title Celebrate followed in 2006. That year, she also appeared alongside singers such as Sarah Brightman and Barbra Streisand on the Andrew Lloyd Weber compilation Divas. The collection From the Heart: Greatest Hits was delivered by Sony in 2007.
Tyler made periodic live appearances over the next few years, including tours with Robin Gibb and the Welsh choir Only Men Aloud, and a performance on the Ukrainian X Factor. Following her longest gap between records to that point, she returned to the studio to record her 16th album in 2012. An advance copy was sent to the BBC, and Tyler was subsequently asked to represent the U.K. in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 with "Believe in Me." She eventually finished in 19th place, and the song cracked the Top 100 in the U.K. The David Huff-produced Rocks and Honey followed on ZYX Music in 2013 and reached number 52 on the album chart there, also charting in countries such as France, Germany, and Denmark.
In 2017, Tyler landed on the Billboard 200 for the first time since 1986 with The Very Best of Bonnie Tyler. The Cherry Pop label followed later in the year with a collection of Remixes and Rarities. Another studio album, Between the Earth and the Stars, arrived in 2019 via Ear Music. A set of love songs with guest vocalists including Rod Stewart and Cliff Richard, it was recorded with David Mackay, who had produced her first two albums over 40 years earlier. ~ Marcy Donelson