Sunday People

‘I need surgery but I’ll be up and rocking soon’

Bonnie Tyler has been making music for more than 40 years and she’s still performing live across Europe. Here she opens up on being a gay icon, easing off on Botox and the secret to her happy marriage


It’s been 40 years since legendary 80s singer Bonnie Tyler MBE released her iconic track Total Eclipse Of The Heart, but the star admits she still loves belting it out all these years later. “Everyone always says, ‘You must get fed up singing it,’ but honestly I don’t. I absolutely love it. I’m very proud of that song,” says Bonnie.

“I had one of the first videos on MTV, it was nominated for a Grammy and now it’s having its time all over again on Tiktok with a remake by DJ Majestic. It’s had over a billion views on Youtube – can you believe that?”

To mark the song’s milestone, Bonnie, 72, has gone on a European tour, performing in 29 concerts in eight countries. She has already notched up 15 shows, but is on a forced break to undergo surgery on her knee.

“The tour has been awesome so far, but I have to have keyhole surgery on my knee. It’s from an old skiing accident,” the Welsh star explains.

“I damaged the meniscus and there’s some small fragments of bone that have to be cleaned out. But I’m told I could be up and rocking again in three weeks. It’s not a big operation, I’ll be back on tour very, very soon.”

As well as making sure she stays physically fit to meet the demands of regularly performing on stage, Bonnie tells us she keeps youthful with Botox procedures every six months, but says she has now decided to ease up on the treatment after a less-thansatisf­actory result.

“I still have Botox. I used to have it in my crow’s feet and in my forehead. But last time my eyebrows lifted too much, so I won’t be having it in my forehead any more, just my crow’s feet. I didn’t like it. I don’t have anything else done – I don’t think I need it.”

The star – born Gaynor Hopkins

– grew up with five siblings in a council house in Skewen, near Swansea in south Wales. She sang in local working men’s clubs before her husky tones were discovered by a talent scout in 1974.

She picked her stage name from an unlikely source after her manager recommende­d she find herself a new identity.

“I got two big broadsheet newspapers, took all the Christian names out and put them in one list,” she says. “I did the same for the surnames and then I matched them and came up with Bonnie Tyler. It’s been a great name for me.

“But I’d find it very strange if my sisters and brother called me Bonnie. It also feels very strange if someone who’s not family or friends calls me Gaynor.”

After adopting her new moniker, a string of huge hits followed, including Total Eclipse, Holding Out For A Hero – which became a gay anthem – and It’s A Heartache.

At the height of her fame, in 1983,

Bonnie was asked to sing the theme tune for the James Bond film Never

Say Never Again, but turned it down because she “didn’t believe in it”.

“It’s probably the only Bond song that wasn’t very good,” she explains. “I couldn’t put my name to it. I would love to do a James Bond theme, but it’s got to be good. I’m still open to doing one if the opportunit­y came about.”

As for being a gay icon, Bonnie says,

“I was called back to the UK from America in the 80s because Holding Out For A Hero was made very popular in the gay clubs.

I had a phone call, ‘Can you come back and do Top Of The Pops?’ It’s always been a big one for the gays and I love that.”

Growing up, Tina Turner and the Beatles were two of her musical inspiratio­ns. Reflecting on Tina’s death in May at the age of 83, Bonnie says she was “devastated”.

“It really hit me. When I mentioned her on stage recently, I was in tears. I was so inspired by Tina Turner. She gave more than 100% to her performanc­es – what an artist!

“There will never be another girl like that. I was devastated to hear of her passing,” she tells us.

She first met her hero, Sir Paul Mccartney, on the music circuit in the 80s, and was so excited that she couldn’t wait to ring her husband, Robert, to tell him.

“My mother answered the phone,”

Bonnie recalls. “I said, ‘You’ll never guess who I’ve met?’ and she said, ‘Whoever it is, he won’t be as great as Robert. I said, ‘It’s Paul Mccartney!’ But she wasn’t bothered. She thought the sun shone out of Robert’s a**e!”

Bonnie married Robert at the age of 19 after performing in a club he managed in south Wales. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversar­y with a weekend in Dublin with Bonnie’s eldest sister, Marlene, and her husband, Gwyn.

Divulging the secret to a long and happy marriage, Bonnie says, “I got very lucky with Robert. We like the same things. He enjoys travelling with me, he comes everywhere with me. We laugh a lot and enjoy a good life together.”

The couple have a home in Mumbles in Swansea and one in the Algarve in

‘I have Botox in my crow’s feet. I don’t have anything else done – I don’t think I need it’

Portugal, where Bonnie enjoyed taking part in water activities before her knee started aggravatin­g her.

“We have friends who own a yacht in Lagos and they have an onboard chef and it’s fabulous. Me and Robert recently visited them with Marlene, who’s 84. Both of us have had a go on the jet ski!” she says.

In September, Bonnie released her autobiogra­phy Straight From The Heart, detailing her 50 years in the music business and her working-class upbringing. Recording the audio version took a little bit longer than expected, particular­ly the chapters talking about her mum, who died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2001.

“When I first told my ghostwrite­r the story of my mum over Zoom, I was really crying. It brought the rawness of her illness back,” she says.

“Then, when I was doing the audio recording, I had to take a few minutes.

I started it and I stopped. I had a cup of tea and went back into it. It hits you all over again.”

She adds, “My beautiful brother Lynn passed away a few years ago. He died in his sleep and that was a horrendous shock for us all. When he was young he was a big Elvis and Eddie Cochran fan, a Teddy boy, but my mother hated the creeper shoes and the long jacket, she gave them away to charity. Recalling that made me smile.

“I had a wonderful childhood and I’m close to my siblings now. I’m a very downto-earth girl at heart and family and friends are everything to me.”

And Bonnie, who is currently starring in a Mcvitie’s Jaffa Cakes advert, certainly has a large family, with 16 nieces and nephews to keep track of.

“Before Covid, I’d have an open house over Christmas,” she says. “On December 27th, I’d have a huge party for the kids.

“Since 2020, me and Robert have spent Christmas in Portugal. But the family have really missed the parties. I’ll have to organise another one soon. I love to see everybody together. We’re a very closeknit family.”

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 ?? ?? Delighting fans old and new, 40 years after finding fame
Delighting fans old and new, 40 years after finding fame
 ?? ?? Bonnie belts out the hits on stage in 1986
Bonnie belts out the hits on stage in 1986
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 ?? ?? Bonnie and husband Robert recently celebrated their golden wedding
Bonnie and husband Robert recently celebrated their golden wedding

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