With her scratchy voice and rafter-shaking delivery, Bonnie Tyler seemed destined to be a pop music powerhouse. Her 1978 breakthrough single, “It’s a Heartache,” sold more than 6 million copies worldwide. In 1983 her seven-minute megahit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” hogged the No. 1 slot on the singles chart for four weeks. Months later she reclaimed the spotlight with “Holding Out for a Hero,” a highlight of the soundtrack of the movie Footloose.
Since then, however, Tyler’s career has endured something of an eclipse of its own—at least on this side of the Atlantic. Fortunately for her, the effect wasn’t global. “A lot of people may have thought. I’d given it up, but I’ve been working all the time,” says the 45-year-old singer, who took home Germany’s equivalent of a Grammy for female singer of the year in 1994. “All over Europe it’s great for me.”
It’s also profitable enough to provide Tyler and her husband of 23 years, real estate speculator Robert Sullivan, with a seaside home in her native Wales, a 620-acre stud farm and racing stable in Berkshire, England, a villa in Portugal and a farm in New Zealand. Tyler’s personal heartache was a miscarriage she suffered four years ago, but she has come to terms with her inability to have children. “I think what you don’t have, you don’t miss,” she says. “It just wasn’t for me, you know. I’ve got a great life, and I’m far from packing it in.” Indeed, Tyler hopes to reconquer America with Free Spirit, her first full-length studio release in the U.S. in eight years. “Bonnie’s maturity brought confidence, which has translated into a stage presence,” says her manager David Aspden. She has also figured out how to make the most of her signature rasp—the result of a 1976 operation to remove nodules on her larynx. “I’ve still got the edge on my voice,” she says, “but now I’ve learned to use it.”