Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: Total Eclipse Of The Heart
As New Jersey is preparing for the Eclipse of the Sun on Monday...I thought that it would be fun to bring you another eclipse...a musical one: A Total Eclipse Of The Heart!
This early 1980's anthem was sung by the raspy-voiced Bonnie Tyler.
After years of singing in the clubs in Wales, Bonnie Tyler developed throat nodules, and required surgery. This was in 1976.
The result was the gritty vocal style that is known and loved today...as she is often referred to as "the female Rod Stewart." And, thanks to her her association with producer Jim Steinman: "the female Meatloaf."
More on all of that in a bit.
Bonnie Tyler was born Gaynor Hopkins in Skewen, Wales, England on June 8, 1951.
She grew up in a religious home, with three sisters and two brothers...who exposed her to the varied music styles of Elvis...Frank Sinatra...and the Beatles, among others. One of her earliest memories is of her mother singing opera around the house.
Her first public singing was in her church.
Her two biggest pop music influences from an early age: Janis Joplin and Tina Turner.
In 1969, Gaynor Hopkins entered a local talent contest. After coming in second...she decided to ditch her job at a grocery store, and pursue a career in music. Responding to a newspaper ad, she joined "Bobby Wayne and the Dixies" as a backup singer.
Soon, she would form her own soul band called "Imagination."
And...she would change her name to Sherene Davis...reportedly to avoid confusion with British folk singer Mary Hopkin.
In 1975, talent scout Roger Bell invited Davis to London to record a demo.
This would lead to a recording contract with RCA Records...and a recommendation to change her name...again! After compiling a list of first names and "christian names," Sherene Davis became....Bonnie Tyler.
Her first single: "My, My, Honeycomb!" in 1976...went unnoticed.
Her next two attempts, "Lost In France" and "More Than A Lover" charted in England, gaining some positive notice from the UK music critics.
Time would go by...and Bonnie Tyler's vocal chords would go...under the knife.
1978 would be a BIG year for Bonnie Tyler!
Listen to "Lost In France" and her breakout hit (below) and remember...vocal chord altering surgery is usually...a career ender!
"It's A Heartache" would propel Bonnie Tyler into the international music spotlight for the first time...landing at #3 on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1978.
This smash hit would go to #4 on the British charts.
Through the late 1970's, and into the early 80's, Tyler would put out four albums...with varying success...but another hit in New Jersey would elude her.
By 1982, Bonnie Tyler wanted to change her style.
After seeing Meatloaf perform on TV...she looked up his producer/musical collaborator Jim Steinman.
This brings us to the "eclipse."
It is said that Jim Steinman asked Bonnie Tyler to send some of her earlier albums, so that he could give them a listen. And, while he was not particularly impressed, he did hear some potential in...her voice.
Here is where I am finding differing stories in my "Total Eclipse" research.
One story has Jim Steinman offering "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" to Bonnie Tyler...telling "People" magazine that he had written the hit song as "a showcase for (Tyler's) voice."
Another source, the "Herald Sun," of Australia, quotes Steinman in 2006...as saying that he originally offered "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" to Meatloaf in 1983! But for financial reasons, Meatloaf's record label wanted Meatloaf to write the songs for his "Midnight At The Lost And Found" album. And, then he (Steinman) offered the song to Bonnie Tyler.
In either case, Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart"...eclipsed...all comers!
"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" would shoot to #1 in the summer of 1983, and capture the top spot for 4 weeks, in New Jersey.
Tyler would be the first Welsh artist to top the pop charts in the U.S.
The song/album would enter the British pop chart at #1!
This would make Bonnie Tyler the first female artist to achieve this feat in the U.K.
Eventually, 5 million records would be sold, worldwide.
"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" won the Variety Club award in England as "Best Single Of 1983!"
Bonnie Tyler picked up two Grammy nominations in 1983..."Best Female Pop Vocal Performance...and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" (awarded to Irene Cara and Pat Benatar).
"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" has a Jersey connection...Max Weinberg (drums) and Roy Bittan (keyboards) from the "E Street Band" play on this track!
So does Rick Derringer, guitarist with the 60's band the McCoys ("Hang On Sloopy")...who had his own solo hit in 1974 with "Rock & Roll, Hoochie Koo."
The rather distinctive "turn around bright eyes" backing vocals were sung by male vocalist Rory Dodd, who appears on a number of Steinman's hits. Dodd has also lent his talents to the likes of Barry Manilow, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Lou Reed, and many others!
The gothic video (above) was story-boarded by Jim Steinman. With Bonnie in all-white, the video was inspired by the movie "Future World." It was shot at the (REAL) "Holloway Asylum." The facility was built by a doctor, paid for by the proceeds of a drug that he had invented to help his patients!
The video was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who had worked on early videos for Billy Joel, Elton John, and Fleetwood Mac!
Mulcahy says the scene with a shirtless boy throwing a dove at the camera....Steinman's idea...earned some harsh words from the video's star! "Bonnie came around the corner and screamed, in her Welsh accent, 'You're nothing but a...pre-vert!' There was nothing perverse intended," Mulcahy maintains.
Bonnie Tyler was nominated for the "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" Grammy in 1985 (for "Here She Comes," on the "Metropolis" soundtrack... which did not chart)
Over the years, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" has continued to get radio airplay...and it has impacted pop culture in other ways...including being featured in films such as "Urban Legends" and...
...in 2001, "Bandits." The video (above) opens with Bonnie Tyler's last top-40 U.S. hit: "Holding On To A Hero" (1984), before segwaying to "Total Eclipse Of The Heart." Two for One!
Elsewhere in pop culture, the "Glee" cast performed "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" in 2010, and the single release debuted at #16 on the Hot 100, with 134,000 digital sales!
If you were "down under, mate..." in 2012...
...you would have enjoyed this on Australian TV! I say, enjoy it NOW! Obviously, Bonnie Tyler has a sense of humor...and is not averse to making a bit of money on the side...
Since "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" charted in 1983, Bonnie Tyler has remained in the musical spotlight in England, and throughout Europe. She has released numerous albums and singles over the intervening years, with varying success (there).
She has also lent her talents to numerous charities.
There have been several "Best Of" Bonnie Tyler CD compilations (and "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" has been included on too many 80's compilations to mention).
She has appeared on European TV singing her latest singles...and...
"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" since the 1980's...(above, from Italy TV)...
In early 2012, Tyler went to Nashville to record the album "Rocks And Honey."
The resulting UK single, "Believe In Me," ended up landing Bonnie Tyler a spot on the "Eurovision Song Contest" in 2013. Finishing in 19th place, she said that her involvement was "like the Grammy Awards all over again."
Back to the solar eclipse...
This past Wednesday, August 16th, it was announced that Bonnie Tyler would perform "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" aboard the "HMS Oasis Of The Seas" on Monday...during the eclipse...backed by the (U.S.) rock band DNCE, and lead singer Joe Jonas!
And, by the way...our spotlight song got another chance at the pop charts in 1995!
Nikki French (from Carlisle, England) took this Steinman/Tyler epic to #2 in New Jersey (#5 in England).
I played it on Philly top-40 radio...maybe you heard me...and it. I have the tapes to prove it.
From one eclipse...to another...
Happy Solar Eclipse, New Jersey!