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Lost in Wales, in love.

Written by on 6th March 2021

by Stephen Payne

Monday the 8th of March is international women’s day, and while there are many fantastic female artists that could be written about, none have quite the powerful and distinctive voice of Bonnie Tyler.

Photo: Albin Olsson
License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Before she was known by her stage name, Bonnie was born Gaynor Hopkins on the 8th of June 1951. Raised in the small mining village of Skewen, Wales, Bonnie was brought up by her parents Glyndwr (a miner) and Elsie Hopkins.

It was a bit crowded for the family as they lived in a four-bedroom house but had a large family. Bonnie had three sisters and four brothers. She was influenced by a lot of different music growing up, as her siblings had a diverse taste. Elvis and Frank Sinatra were played alongside the Beatles. Her family were deeply religious Protestants and the singer had her first live performance as a member of the local choir.

Bonnie left school with no formal qualifications and not even thinking about a career in music, she began to work at a grocery store. In 1969 Bonnie entered a local talent contest where she decided to sing, she won second place which inspired her to pursue a career in the music business. Bonnie got her experience by performing as a back up singer for a soul band. It wasn’t long before she decided to set up her own soul band called Imagination. During this time, she also changed her name to Sherene Davis.

In 1975 Bonnie was performing with her band in the Townsman Club, Swansea, when she was spotted by talent scout, Roger Bell. After seeing her perform, Roger invited her to London to record a demo. After she had come back to Wales, the singer heard nothing for a number of months and thought nothing would come of it. Eventually, RCA Records heard the demo and contacted the singer to offer her a contract. They also recommended that she change her name again, with the singer eventually deciding on Bonnie Tyler.

Bonnie recorded her first single “My! My! Honeycomb!” in 1976. While it was a good first step, this song failed to chart. Another attempt was made in September 1976 with the single “Lost in France.” While initially the single felt like another failure, it started to take off and eventually became a top ten single by the year’s end. This was the first stepping stone for a career that would take the singer around the world and make her a major part of the music industry.