Bonnie Tyler Says “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Was Originally Written for an Odd Musical

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Bonnie Tyler performs on stage during Music For The Marsden 2020 at The O2 Arena on March 03, 2020 in London, England
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Bonnie Tyler almost didn’t get to sing one of her most popular hit songs, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” The song, which blew up in the ’80s and became a classic, was originally intended for a musical about the Dracula-inspired character Nosferatu. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the song, Tyler opened up about how she was able to perform the song.

She explained that songwriter/producer Jim Steinman worked on the song with the potential musical in mind. When it didn’t work out, he put the song on hold for a while and never quite finished it. Tyler had heard of Steinman’s work with the late Meat Loaf and wanted to work with him. When she was finally able to collaborate with Steinman, he brought up the song.

MALMO, SWEDEN - MAY 18: Bonnie Tyler of the United Kingdom performs on stage during the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 at Malmo Arena on May 18, 2013 in Malmo, Sweden

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He played her the song featuring Rory Dodd’s voice and Tyler admitted, “I understood immediately what an incredible song it was.” To pay tribute to the musical that never happened, they incorporated some Nosferatu-inspired elements in the music video.

She said, “We shot the video in a frightening gothic former asylum in Surrey. The guard dogs wouldn’t set foot in the rooms downstairs where they used to give people electric shock treatment.” The song shot up to No. 1 on the charts when it was released in 1983 and earned a Grammy nomination for best pop vocal performance. Eventually, it did appear in a different vampire musical.

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE, (aka NOSFERATU: PHANTOM DER NACHT), Isabelle Adjani (front), Klaus Kinski, 1979

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

Steinman created a stage adaptation of the film The Fearless Vampire Killers and it debuted in 1997. Later, it debuted on Broadway in 2002 and he explained how you can hear vampire-inspired lines in the lyrics. He said, “It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in dark. And so I figured ‘Who’s ever going to know; it’s Vienna!’ And then it was just hard to take it out.”

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