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Drunken Eclipse #1

Posted by:
Jacqueline 06:11 pm MST 04/02/17


Eighties star Bonnie Tyler who still holds karaoke number one

Amanda KeenanSaturday, 1 April 2017 2:01PM

Bonnie Tyler today.

They say every second or so a couple of babies are born, and someone dies. Two people will buy a jar of Nutella. And someone, somewhere will slur Bonnie Tyler’s seminal singalong power ballad, Total Eclipse of the Heart, into a beery mic.

“It’s the number one karaoke song on Sony,” Bonnie says down the line from her Portugal home in that deliciously singsong Welsh accent. “I don’t know why because it’s not an easy song to sing but everybody loves to sing it.”

If the classic tune is not being murdered in a karaoke club, it’s being sung by a chorus of wined-up women with their arms around each other or a shower soprano or a normally metal- loving suburban dad who is among a significant chunk of the population to claim it as a guilty pleasure.

Bonnie promises she’ll belt out her trademark Jim Steinman-penned hit, which topped the Australian charts in 1983, when she and her band play Crown Theatre in May.

“I love singing the old songs,” she insists. “Everybody loves to hear the good oldies, you know, because it brings back memories and they all have a great time and they sing along with me. I never get tired of singing Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Bonnie is raving about the weather in coastal Albufeira, Portugal, where she and husband Robert Sullivan have had a house since 1978. They live there “most of the time”.

“When I say most of the time, I mean in between gigs. If I get any time off we come here.”

The 65-year-old is in hot demand around the globe, thanks to her music’s enduring appeal and our fondness for the 80s.

“I’m turning down tours because I want to spend some time in Portugal. I said to my manager, as much as I love doing it, give me a bloody break! I need some time off. For example Norway wanted to put a tour on round about August. ‘No,’ I said. ‘Tell him get in touch next year.’

“But the thing is I’m a glutton for it. Especially when we come to Australia, it’s wonderful to travel to these places. We had a ball in NZ and then in Tel Aviv we had another great time. We’re going to South Africa ... and then we are in Australia.”

After the Perth shows, she heads around Australia before flying to Chile, Germany, Switzerland, Estonia, the UK and Lebanon.

Bonnie Tyler in the eighties.Picture: Unknown

Bonnie’s genuine enthusiasm means her shows are nothing at all like the lacklustre and occasionally tragic tours by stars of a certain era. The singer born Gaynor Hopkins has continued to release fresh material and her distinctive husky voice — which has seen her labelled the “female Rod Stewart” — is in top form.

“I’ve discovered this fantastic voice coach, James Windsor in London. Before every show I phone him on WhatsApp,” she explains.

“It doesn’t matter where I am, even when I was in New Zealand and he was getting up at five in the morning. Whoever is in the hotel the same time as me will hear these strange noises coming from my room. But it works. I don’t know how but it does.”

Singing has been a constant in Bonnie’s life. Her late mum, Elsie, was a self-taught amateur opera singer who would draw crowds to their home in Skewen, Wales.

“My mother had the most fantastic opera voice. She wasn’t doing it professionally because she had all us kids but oh, her voice. People would stand outside our house and listen to her sing while she was doing the cleaning. It was like Maria Callas.”

All six siblings had their own different styles of music. “My eldest sister and eldest brother they were into it, music. My elder sister was more into Frank Sinatra and my brother was into Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran. They’d roll up the carpet and jive on it, you know. And then my other sister loved the Beatles. I loved Janis Joplin and Tina Turner.”

Her youngest brother and sister are now both performers, though in rock and Motown — not the church hymns they grew up with.

Meanwhile Adele, who's currently on tour in Australia, bagged the Global Success Award and Katy Perry impressed with a performance of "Chained to the Rhythm".

The very first time young Bonnie sang was in church. “It was All Things Bright and Beautiful,” she says wistfully.

“Then the first time I sang over a microphone was when I entered a talent competition when I was 171/2. I came second. I sang two songs and I only won a pound. First prize was only a fiver! These days they’re winning record deals.”

Bonnie said the fact music had become a fame game played out on television. “I’m a singer because I love singing, not to be famous.”

She was discovered seven years after that talent show debut, performing with a band in Swansea.

Her first album, The World Starts Tonight, was released in 1977 and only seemed to find an audience in Sweden. However, her second record Natural Force featured the alt-country hit It’s a Heartache.

Bonnie laughs now at the suggestion she was doing the pop-country crossover long before Taylor Swift was born.

“It was my first hit record in America,” she says. “Two other people released different versions of it before mine came out. I had the original and mine was a hit and their’s wasn’t. Ha ha ha.

“Then I changed my direction in 1981 when I worked with Jim Steinman for Total Eclipse of the Heart.” (Steinman is perhaps best known as the man behind Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell).

Tyler was responsible for this karaoke classic.Picture: File image

Bonnie’s other huge hits are Lost in France, If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man) and Holding Out for a Hero. She’s even done a cover of another Steinman beauty, Making Love Out of Nothing at All, which was first released by Australian duo Air Supply.

Total Eclipse of the Heart remains her biggest smash, along with its now-legendary video featuring freaky schoolboys with glowing eyes.

She performed the song live at the 1984 Grammy Awards, where she lost out in the best female pop vocal category to Irene Cara for Flashdance.

“And it was nominated for a best video but I lost out to Michael Jackson doing Billie Jean. Now I don’t mind that.”

She has, however, collected plenty of awards over the years, and performed in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest for the United Kingdom.

Despite Bonnie’s desperation to spend more time in Portugal, she’s in no mood to put down the mic.

“I don’t think I’ll ever retire. Oh, until I can’t sing any longer. I do love it.” It’s made easier by the fact Robert travels with her — she even introduces him on stage during the show.

Bonnie hopes Perth fans will be in full voice come May.

“We can’t wait for Perth, we’re really, really looking forward to it. And tell everybody to sing along with me: make some noise and come and rock!”

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