Together, Bonnie Tyler and Jim Steinman scored global hits like Total Eclipse Of The Heart and Holding Out For A Hero – and they could have made it a hat trick, had her label not intervened.
Back in 1983, the Welsh superstar found herself at a crossroads and debated giving up on chart success and returning home to the local circuit. Fortunately, she gave it one more shot, signing with CBS and connecting with Steinman – who had already enjoyed numerous hits with Meat Loaf, a personal favourite of Bonnie’s.
“[A&R man] Muff Winwood said to me, ‘Right, Bonnie, we’ve got you for five years, who would you like to work with?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m so glad you asked me that, because I want to work with whoever writes and produces Meat Loaf’. And he looked at me like I was crackers,” she tells RETROPOP’s August issue. “He said, ‘Bonnie, that’s Jim Steinman’ and I said, ‘Yeah, and I want to work with him. I know I can sing those songs and I think we would be good together!’”
Despite initial reservations, Winwood agreed to reach out to the legendary producer and songwriter and, to both his and Bonnie’s surprise and delight, he agreed to meet with them and the pair jetted off to New York for a visit to his apartment, which overlooked Central Park.
“We arrived at this incredible building and he was on the top floor – his next door neighbour was Dustin Hoffman,” she recalls, “and when we got out of the lift there was this trail of M&Ms leading to his door – like in ‘E.T.’! So we rang the bell and through the glass panel in the door we saw this thing with hair all over his face, like Cousin Itt from ‘The Addams Family’! But he was so sweet; he looked frightening, but he invited us in and he was playing songs and one of them was Have You Ever Seen the Rain?.”
Originally a 1971 hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival, it was the first song the pair decided to work on for the project and ultimately became the opening track on ‘Faster Than The Speed Of Night’.
The following month, he presented them with an original track – Total Eclipse Of The Heart. “He had started writing it many, many years before and originally it was for a vampire theatre play, but he finished it off after he met me, took me and David to the office where his manager, David Sonenberg, worked, thrusted the lyrics in front of us and played the song on the grand piano,” she smiles. “[Canadian rocker] Rory Dodd was there and he sang it all the way through – all eight minutes – while Jim played it on the piano, and when he finished me and David just looked at each other, because it was amazing!”
Released in February 1983 in the UK, the track topped the Singles Chart and became the fifth-best-selling release of the year, achieving similar success worldwide. In the States, it was released that summer and also hit No. 1, keeping another Steinman penned song, Making Love Out of Nothing at All by Air Supply, from reaching the top spot.
“It was incredible,” Bonnie beams. “But as you can imagine, I was everywhere – on all the TV shows, all the radio stations, I was touring – so I didn’t have a minute to myself and I really didn’t have the time to realise how much fun it was. It was an incredible time but I was working so hard that it wasn’t until years later that I could really appreciate it.”
The pair later worked together on follow-up album, ‘Secret Dreams And Forbidden Fire’ (1984), and Steinman approached her again later in the decade with another song that she was keen to record.
“While I was making the album ‘Hide Your Heart’ with Desmond Child, I was off one weekend and Jim invited me down to this big house down in Connecticut that he was hiring and said, ‘Listen to this song that I’ve got that I’d love you to do’. So we went down and he played me this song: It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” she reveals.
“I loved it, so we approached the record company about it and they said, ‘Jim is too expensive, we can’t do it’. I said, ‘Are you crazy? This will be a No. 1!’ And then he did it with Celine Dion and, of course, it was massive!”
Read the full interview in the August 2023 edition of RETROPOP, out now. Order yours or subscribe via our Online Store, use our Store Finder to locate your nearest stockist, or get Digital Copies delivered direct to your devices.