Bonnie Tyler, singer
I recently signed with Sony and desired to shift my music genre from country rock to rock. While watching the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, I witnessed Meat Loaf’s performance of “Bat Out of Hell” and was inspired to collaborate with Jim Steinman, the songwriter and producer for Meat Loaf. When I shared this idea with Muff Winwood at Sony, he seemed skeptical and informed me that Jim would not be interested. However, I persisted and asked Muff to at least reach out to him.
Jim was fond of my singing, and three weeks after that, my manager and I visited his apartment with a view of Central Park in New York. Our spirits were lifted as we had the chance to meet Jim Steinman! After three weeks, he invited us back and treated us to a performance on his grand piano, with Rory Dodd singing Total Eclipse of the Heart specifically for me. It was then that I realized the brilliance of the song.
We captured the audio at Power Station in New York. Jim preferred to establish a foundational rhythm track, record nine versions of the song, select the strongest one, and then add additional elements, similar to Phil Spector’s approach. He gave me a cassette to listen to in my hotel room and we both agreed that take two was the best.
He informed me that he had begun composing the song for a potential stage adaptation of Nosferatu many years ago, but was unable to complete it. During our recording session, Meat Loaf had experienced vocal issues, and he would often remark, “Dang. I should have claimed that song as my own!” I sang the song with great emotion. The music video was filmed at a chilling, gothic former mental institution in Surrey. The guard dogs were afraid to enter the lower rooms where patients were once subjected to electroshock therapy.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Jim and was heartbroken upon learning of his passing. Recently, a friend stumbled upon a letter I had written to her during my time in New York. In the letter, I mentioned recording a remarkable song, but expressed concern that it was too long to receive much airtime. Despite having to shorten “Total Eclipse of the Heart” from seven minutes to four, it was still well-received and played in its entirety on the album.
Rory Dodd, singer
When I was 20, I had the opportunity to meet Meat Loaf in New York while we were both performing on Broadway. He was quite a large man, wearing a cowboy hat, and boasted that nobody could sing higher than him. I jokingly replied that I believed I could, and he suggested that I meet Jimmy. From then on, I sang on numerous Steinman records for many years, including Bat Out of Hell. One performance in particular on the Old Grey Whistle Test caught Bonnie’s attention. By this time, Bat Out of Hell had become extremely popular and we even had a biker gang escort us from the airport to the BBC studio.
Jimmy gave me the nickname Icehead due to my origins in a Canadian fishing village. He would often call and ask, “Hey, Icy! I have a new song. Do you want to come sing it?” Typically, he would have me do the vocals to showcase the song to the artist, but he wrote Total Eclipse of the Heart as a duet for Bonnie and me. He enjoyed the idea of switching roles with a female voice performing the rough part and a male voice doing the angelic tenor.
Jim was an exceptional pianist, but the only time I witnessed him playing for someone was when he performed Eclipse for Bonnie in his apartment. He preferred to be in the control room on the opposite side of the glass. Our relationship was strong and he would often ask me, “Is there a higher part?” to which I would reply, “Only where dogs can hear, Jim.” He would then humorously imitate a dog and request for me to sing higher. He had a nocturnal work style, similar to a vampire. One night, after singing for 10 hours, he asked me to do my lead part for the duet in Eclipse. So there I was, singing “Turn around bright eyes…” at 2am. It was disappointing that my name didn’t make it onto Eclipse, alongside Bonnie’s, but I would do anything to receive a call from Jim again, asking me to come and sing a song he had written.