Singer Meat Loaf has passed away. He was 74 years old.
Bat Out Of Hell remains one of the biggest selling albums of all time, however behind the hard-partying, big rocking extravagant performances that sold so many units, Meat Loaf was actually a quiet family man. a non-smoker, he never owned a motorbike and was said to be permanently on a diet to be able to keep performing. Those who knew him said he was a shy and retiring individual.
Born Marvin Lee Aday on 27 September 1947 in Dallas, Texas to an alcoholic police officer and a school teacher, his love of performing came from his mother. She sang in a girls’ gospel quartet and he frequently went to see her perform.
His stage name was, contrary to popular belief, not something that came early in his performing career but was actually carried forward from childhood.
“I got it when I was four days old, not the Loaf part, just the Meat, because I was born bright red.
The doctor suggested they should keep me in the hospital for a few days and my dad said, ‘He looks like nine-and-a-half pounds of ground chuck [meat]. I want you to put a name tag on the front of that plastic crib with Meat on it.'”
In eighth grade, he stepped on his football coach’s foot and the coach yelled at him:
“Get off my foot you hunk of meat loaf!”
The name stuck from there. After his mother died he left Dallas for LA to pursue his dreams of a music career and he formed a band, Meat Loaf Soul. His voice came to the notice of some other big names due to the three-octave range. His band opened for The Who, The Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin among others. A recording contract followed.
Meat Loaf quit the band to join the cast of a touring production of the musical, Hair, which bought him to the notice of Motown Records as a solo artist.
He starred in musical More Than You Deserve, written by a classic pianist named Jim Steinman, and this led him to his first movie role.
In 1973 Meat Loaf played the dual roles of Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott in the stage production of The Rocky Horror Show. This then became a movie as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Meat Loaf, the movie star, was born.
However, it was at this point that Meat decided to quit acting and return full-time to music. He was working with Steinman on a musical version of Peter Pan but when he returned to music full-time that project, in one of the universe’s unexplained moves, somehow morphed into Bat Out Of Hell.
Meat Loaf was ill-prepared for the level of success the album brought him and he suffered a cocaine and alcohol-fuelled breakdown. His wife Leslie Edmunds supported him but his moods drove a wedge between him and Steinman.
Meat Loaf was bigger in the UK than the UIS at this stage, but when his next album Midnight At The Lost And Found took a critical mauling he became withdrawn. He also decided to change his name from Marvin to Michael due to the Levi advert that said “Poor fat Marvin can’t wear Levi’s”.
Falling album sales and voice issues brought on an eventual bankruptcy. At this time he healed his rift with Steinman and the now legendary Bat Out Of Hell II: Back into Hell was the result.
Meat At The Movies
The world-famous I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) came from this album and went to number one in 26 countries. At the same time Meat Loaf got his life back under control and set off on a series of big paying tours.
In 1999 he had a role in the film Fight Club where his character of Bob became a fan favorite as a former bodybuilder, wrestler, and creator of a chest expansion program who has used too many steroids, giving himself an unfortunate pair of bitch-tits.
He had also appeared with Patrick Swayze in Black Dog, in Wayne’s World, Stage Fright, and Tenacious D And The Pick Of Destiny. His filmography now counts over 50 movies and TV shows.
His health had been an issue for a long time. He collapsed during a 2003 performance at London’s Wembley Arena and was diagnosed with a heart condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
A rift with Steinway over the Bat Out Of Hell trademark was resolved quickly with Meat Loaf pointing out Steinman was his friend:
“But the real thing is about managers. So, really, I didn’t sue Jim Steinman. I sued his manager.”
Halfway through a performance in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2007 he was forced to leave the stage again, in some distress. He wished the audience goodbye and declared this was his last ever performance.
Treatment for a cyst on his vocal cords failed to allow him to sully recover and although he did return to the stage he collapsed in Pittsburgh in 2011 and again at the same venue in 2016. He also collapsed during a concert in Edmonton.
His massive vocals and energetic performance style had taken their toll on him and he could not continue to perform as he had.
Huge record sales and sell-out concerts were Meat’s two-finger salute to critics who frequently derided his style.
“The day that I ever become hip, please shoot me and put me outta my misery.”
The sad news of his passing was confirmed on the star’s Facebook page overnight by his family.
“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side. Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.
We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man.
We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time.
From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”