Welsh singing star and long-time Algarve homeowner Bonnie Tyler had a busy weekend in the celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday and Platinum Jubilee.
In her birthday honours list, the Queen awarded Bonnie Tyler with an MBE in recognition of her services to music and to various charities.
Bonnie said she felt “truly honoured” by the award, adding that it was all the more special because of its timing on such a jubilant occasion.
“This honour just goes to show that anyone from any background can become a success and be recognised by our wonderful country if they put their minds and efforts into what they do,” she said.
“I hope that my honour may, in some way, motivate others to give their best. You really never know what wonderful things may come to you if you do.”
As genuinely humble as ever, she continued: “I’m just a girl from a small town in Wales who just loves to sing, so to be recognised for that in this way is very significant to me and my family and friends.”
The Queen’s symbolic lighting of a beacon in Windsor Castle on Friday night coincided with the lighting of about 3,500 beacons all around the UK and the Commonwealth, including one by Bonnie Tyler at Oystermouth Castle, a 12th century Norman fortress overlooking Swansea Bay.
On Saturday, she met with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two children before performing with an orchestra rather than her usual band at a jubilee concert in Cardiff Castle.
Bonnie first visited the Algarve in 1976 as a guest of her then manager Ronnie Scott, who had a recording studio in his home in Vilamoura. She later said: “I fell in love with the Algarve straight away.”
Her first album, The World Starts Tonight, was released in 1977. The following year, one of her most popular singles, It’s A Heartache, was released. That was when she and her husband decided to buy a home in Albufeira.
Back in 1973, she had married Robert Sullivan, a judo champion who took part in the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany. She was well on her way to stardom as a rock legend when she and her husband, a property developer, lived in a marina apartment while they had their Albufeira villa completely rebuilt.
In summer, they enjoyed power boating, lunching on clams or prawns with piri-piri chicken and a nice bottle of white wine, then spending the afternoon on the beach. Bonnie said she would have spent “99% of my time here” had it not been for the demands of her singing career.
Between performing in concerts around the world, Bonnie liked to return to the Algarve because, she said in a local radio interview, “it’s really like coming home”. In that regard, she was a bit like another Algarve legendary homeowner, Cliff Richard, whom she came to know and meet here when neither was on tour.
Sir Cliff has owned homes in the Albufeira area since first holidaying there in 1961. He was the co-founder and for many years deeply involved in the running of the Adega do Cantor winery. As he had performed at both the Queen’s 2002 Golden Jubilee and 2012’s Diamond Jubilee, he expressed disappointment that he was not asked to perform at the glittering jubilee show outside Buckingham Palace last Saturday night.
Despite their advancing ages, neither Bonnie nor Sir Cliff show any signs of giving up showbusiness. With her remarkably strong, husky voice, Bonnie’s best-known chart-topping song Total Eclipse Of The Heart came with her fifth album in 1983, but the international action certainly did not end there. She represented the UK in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. In 2019, she had been touring until August when she gave a concert on a crowded Albufeira beach. Bonnie’s many hits will again be included in her extensive concert tours lined up to the end of 2023.
Sir Cliff, now 81, who so far has sold more than 250 million albums worldwide in his six-decade singing career, has many more performances scheduled. Meanwhile, all the action for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and 96th birthday has been an exciting build-up for Bonnie’s own birthday. She is 71 on Wednesday, June 8.
By LEN PORT
Len Port is a journalist and author based in the Algarve. Follow Len’s reflections on current affairs in Portugal on his blog: algarvenewswatch.blogspot.pt