Meat Loaf, thunderous ‘Bat Out of Hell’ singer, dies aged 74

Meat Loaf, the powerful rock and roll singer who rose to stardom with the 1977 album Bat Out of Hell, died Thursday. He was 74.

His death was announced by his family on Facebook. “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends,” the statement read, which continued, “From his heart to your souls…never stop rocking!”

A cause of death was not given.

A mountain of a man who had an outsized presence on stage and screen – he stole the show as greaser-rebel Eddie in the original production of “The Rocky Horror Show” in Los Angeles along with the 1975 film adaptation – Meat Loaf channeled his love of musical theater to rock ‘n’ roll with the support of Jim Steinman, a songwriter who composed the songs on “Bat Out of Hell” and became the singer’s lifelong collaborator.

A black and white photo of a man dancing on stage

Meat Loaf performed in 1977.

(Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

An unexpected blockbuster, “Bat Out of Hell” became a classic rock perennial, its enduring hits “You Take the Words Right Out of My Mouth”, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard.” Light” He’s buoyed Meat Loaf through career downturns and personal struggles, while also laying the groundwork for his comeback in the early 1990s. “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell,” a long overdue reunion with Steinman, put Meat Loaf back in the spotlight thanks to Grammy-winning No 1 single released in 1993, which became the singer’s trademark.

Meat Loaf pursued a parallel acting career, appearing in Wayne’s World, Spice World, and Fight Club in 2011, as well as the TV series The Celebrity Apprentice.

The son of a school teacher and a police officer, Meat Loaf was born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947 in Dallas. His father Orvis nicknamed him “meat” as a child and claimed his son resembled “nine and a half pounds of ground fodder”. Meat Loaf’s childhood was turbulent due to his father’s alcoholism, which led to occasional extended stays with his grandmother. While at Thomas Jefferson High School, he divided his time between theater and football; According to lore, his trainer is the first to call Aday “Meat Loaf”. After graduating, he enrolled at Lubbock Christian College, then transferred to the University of North Texas before leaving school to pursue a music career in Los Angeles. In 1968 he formed Meat Loaf Soul, a band that changed members and names, releasing the single “Once Upon a Time” under the moniker Popcorn Blizzard.

Meat Loaf left the band he formed to appear in the Los Angeles production of Hair, a role he would reprise in a Detroit production opposite Shaun “Stoney” Murphy. Motown offered the pair a record deal for their rock-focused subsidiary Rare Earth, which resulted in the 1971 album Stoney & Meatloaf. Meat Loaf broke up with Stoney at the end of a tour supporting their duet album and headed to Broadway to appear in Hair. He was soon cast in the 1973 public theater production of More Than You Deserve, a play written by Steinman, a native New Yorker who had been rock ‘n’ rock since he was at Amherst College in the late 1960s ‘Roll Musicals wrote. Seeing a kindred spirit in Meat Loaf, Steinman decided to remake the songs he composed for Neverland, an adaptation of Peter Pan, as a rock ‘n’ roll album for the singer.

While Steinman reworked the Neverland footage, Meat Loaf made his way to Los Angeles to star in The Rocky Horror Show, a sexually charged satire on 1960s B-movies. In the original Roxy production of Rocky Horror, Meat Loaf played both Dr. Everett from Scott as well as the rebel Eddie. When the musical hit the screens as The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975, Meat Loaf appeared only as Eddie. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” wasn’t a hit out of the gates, but its popularity grew through word of mouth and became a cult phenomenon, a fate that would mirror that of “Bat Out of Hell.”

Steinman and Meat Loaf finished Bat Out of Hell after both working for the touring company National Lampoon, drawing inspiration from Bruce Springsteen’s film Born to Run. Despite Meat Loaf’s appearance on Ted Nugent’s 1976 album Free-for-All — he sang five of the nine songs — the pair didn’t arouse much interest in their project until they listened to Todd Rundgren. The pop loner recognized the humor in Steinman’s songs and agreed to produce the record, assembling Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg of Springsteen’s E Street Band to reinforce members of Rundgren’s own band Utopia. Crowded and overheated, Rundgren’s production wrestled all of the youthful melodrama from Steinman’s compositions while also emphasizing Meat Loaf’s thunderous vocals. It was a distinctive sound, but Meat Loaf and Steinman couldn’t convince any label to release the album until Cleveland International Records, an offshoot of Epic Records, agreed to release the album in 1977, nearly a year after its recording.

“Bat Out of Hell” wasn’t an instant hit. But Meat Loaf’s terrific live performances – Steinman called them “scripted” – won him an audience, and soon radio stations and teenagers were catching on nationwide. “Bat Out of Hell” never cracked the Billboard Top 10, but it never faded either, evolving into a pop perennial with its accompanying singles.”Two out of three is not bad“, “Paradise through the Dashboard Light‘ and ‘You Take the Words Right Out of My Mouth’ to classic rock standards. In the US, it has been certified 14 times platinum; in the UK it stayed in the charts for over 550 weeks.

A man in a leather jacket is standing and a man with his shirt open underneath is playfully biting his arm

Jim Steinman (standing) and Meat Loaf in 1978.

(Ron Pownall/Getty Images)

The phenomenal success of “Bat Out of Hell” bonded Meat Loaf and Steinman in the public eye — it helped that Steinman had a name on the front cover of the LP, a rarity for any songwriter — but their relationship was strained and fraught with feuds often to complain. The first break came in the early 1980s when Meat Loaf pulled out of a sequel to Bat Out of Hell after losing his voice from exhaustion.

In addition to touring, Meat Loaf appeared in three feature films during this period, including starring in Alan Rudolph’s 1980 film Roadie. Steinman, who released the “Bat” sequel sessions as his solo album Bad for Good, agreed to collaborate with Meat Loaf on Dead Ringer, a 1981 LP that halted the singer’s commercial boom. Meat Loaf broke up with Steinman and cuddled together in 1983’s “Midnight at the Lost and Found,” an album that flopped while Bonnie Tyler and Air Supply hit hits with “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Making Love Out of Nothing at All.” had. Songs Steinman originally wrote for the singer.

As Meat Loaf hopped from label to label throughout the rest of the 1980s, his albums failed to gain traction. His fortunes turned when he reunited with Steinman in 1993’s Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell. The album’s bombastic lead single, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, became the biggest hit of Meat Loaf’s career and earned him a Grammy for his solo rock performance after he had become his only No. 1 singles. Much of the song’s popularity revolves around the dilemma surrounding the bracketed “that,” making it ripe for both parody and as a musical backing for television commercials.

Meat Loaf never stopped recording, but after 1995’s platinum album Welcome to the Neighborhood, he diversified his efforts and appeared in both film and television, earning recognition for his role as Robert Paulsen in David Fincher’s film 1999’s Fight Club. Splitting his time between acting and touring in the 2000s, he collaborated with Desmond Child on 2006’s Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose. Bat Out of Hell III was the first Bat project Steinman was not involved in, a situation that led to a dispute over the rights to the Bat Out of Hell title after its release. The couple settled out of court and then reunited for Meat Loaf’s 2016 album Braver Than We Are. It was Steinman’s last collection of new songs and turned out to be Meat Loaf’s last album.

During the last decade of his life, Meat Loaf suffered from health problems that limited his touring. Instead, he turned to television and social media. In 2011, he appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice, the reality show hosted by future President Donald Trump. In the years that followed, Meat Loaf aligned himself with increasingly conservative news outlets, became a regular guest on Mike Huckabee’s talk show, and made derogatory comments about climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Meat Loaf’s death came nine months after Jim Steinman’s death. After Steinman’s death, Meat Loaf told Rolling Stone, “I don’t want to die, but maybe I’ll die this year because of Jim. I am with him always and he is right here with me now. I was always with Jim and Jim was always with me. We belonged together heart and soul. We are not to know each other. we became each other.”

Meat Loaf is survived by his wife Deborah Gillespie and daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday.

Erlewine is a special correspondent for The Times. Meat Loaf, thunderous ‘Bat Out of Hell’ singer, dies aged 74

Caroline Bleakley

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