Bonnie Tyler, singer
I recently joined Sony and desired to switch from country rock to rock music. While watching the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, I was inspired by Meat Loaf’s performance of Bat Out of Hell. I informed Muff Winwood at Sony that I wished to collaborate with Jim Steinman, the songwriter and producer for Meat Loaf. Muff seemed skeptical and claimed that Jim would never agree to it. However, I persisted and asked Muff to simply reach out to Jim on my behalf.
Jim enjoyed my singing, and three weeks later, my manager and I visited his apartment with a view of Central Park in New York. We were ecstatic to have met Jim Steinman and three weeks later, he invited us back. At our second visit, he played the grand piano while Rory Dodd sang Total Eclipse of the Heart to me. I immediately recognized the brilliance of the song.
We captured the audio at Power Station in New York. Jim preferred to start with a simple rhythm track, record nine versions of the song, select the strongest one, and then add additional elements, similar to Phil Spector’s style. 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 began composing the song for a potential musical adaptation of Nosferatu many years ago, yet never completed it. During the time we were in the recording process, Meat Loaf had experienced a loss of his singing voice. After the song became a hit, he would often exclaim, “Dang. That should have been my song!” I put all my emotions into singing it. The music video was filmed at a creepy gothic asylum in Surrey. The guard dogs refused to enter the downstairs rooms where electric shock therapy was once performed on patients.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Jim and was greatly saddened by his passing. A friend recently discovered a letter I had written to her during our time in New York. In the letter, I mentioned recording an amazing song, but expressed concern that its length may prevent it from being played. Despite having to shorten “Total Eclipse of the Heart” from seven to four minutes, it was still well-received and the full album version was played.
Rory Dodd, singer
I had the opportunity to meet Meat Loaf in New York when I was twenty years old. We were both involved in a Broadway show at the time. He was a very large man wearing a cowboy hat and boldly declared, “Nobody sings higher than me.” I couldn’t help but respond, “Well, I think I might.” That’s when he exclaimed, “You have to meet Jimmy!” From then on, I continued to sing on Bat Out of Hell and many other records by Steinman for several years. One performance that caught Bonnie’s attention was on the Old Grey Whistle Test. By this time, Bat Out of Hell had become a huge success 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. Would you like to come and sing it?” He typically had me do the vocals to showcase the song to the artist, but this time, he wrote Total Eclipse of the Heart as a duet for Bonnie and me. He enjoyed the idea of a role reversal with a female voice singing the rough part and a male voice singing the pure, angelic tenor.
Jim was an exceptional piano player, but the only time I ever saw him perform for someone was when he played Eclipse for Bonnie in his apartment. He preferred to be in the control room on the opposite side of the glass. We had a great working relationship. He would ask, “Is there a higher part?” and I would respond, “Only where dogs can hear, Jim.” He would then make a “woof woof” sound and ask me to sing higher. He had a nocturnal work style, similar to a vampire. He often worked at night. I had already been singing for 10 hours when he asked me to do the lead part of the duet for Eclipse. So there I was, singing “Turn around bright eyes…” at 2am. It was disappointing that my name was not included on Eclipse, along with Bonnie’s, but I would give anything to receive another call from Jim saying, “Hey, Icy. I wrote a song. Do you want to come and sing it?”