Meat Loaf Dead at 74
Meat Loaf has died at age 74.
Wife Deborah and daughters Pearl and Amanda were with Meat Loaf at the time of his passing. "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 artists and beautiful man," their Facebook statement says. "From his heart to your souls ... don't ever stop rocking!"
He sold over 100 million records during a career that spanned over four decades, and is best known for the Bat Out of Hell trilogy – Bat Out of Hell, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose. Meat Loaf won a Grammy in 1994 for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for the song "I'd Do Anything for Love." He was a phenomenon in Europe, particularly in England where Bat Out of Hell stayed on the charts for more than nine years.
Meat Loaf was known for his soaring vocals, magisterial performances that embraced his camp persona and a commitment to never giving fans less than their money's worth. "There's three elements that I look at as rock 'n' roll, which are the fever, the fantasy and the fun," he told Sounds Magazine in 1978. "There's gotta be that fun."
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He was also a successful stage and screen actor. One of Meat Loaf's first big breaks came through an appearance in the musical Hair, and a role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975 was indelible enough to launch a screen career. He appeared frequently in movies, particularly in the second half of his career, with roles in everything from independent films to big-budget productions like Wayne's World and Fight Club. He was also a frequent presence on television, appearing as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, voicing himself in an episode of South Park, and even turning up on WWE Raw.
Born Marvin Lee Aday on Sep. 27, 1947, in Dallas, Meat Loaf began performing in high school musicals at the local Thomas Jefferson High. After attending Lubbock Christian College and North Texas State University without graduating, he moved to Los Angeles in 1967. There, he formed a series of bands.
The first was called Meat Loaf Soul, and opened for the likes of Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, and Janis Joplin. Eventually, Aday and his bandmates cycled through some other names, including Popcorn Blizzard and Floating Circus, and continued their success as an opening act for acts including the Who, the Stooges, and the Grateful Dead.
Perhaps the most important moment in Meat Loaf's early career came when he began working with songwriter and producer Jim Steinman. The two met in 1973 when Meat Loaf was auditioning for a musical in New York City, More Than You Deserve, with a songbook written by Steinman. The two found an immediate chemistry while working up a review to promote the show. "When I sang Jim’s song, everyone stood on their feet and went crazy," Meat Loaf told Rolling Stone in 2021. "By the end, I was going, 'Maybe I should work with this guy Steinman. People tell me I can sing, but I’ve never sang like that."
The collaboration led to the album Bat Out of Hell, which had its roots in a musical called Neverland – a futuristic adaptation of Peter Pan that Steinman had written. Recorded in 1975-76, with Todd Rundgren producing, the album proved difficult to sell until Meat Loaf's friend John Belushi got him a gig as the musical guest on SNL in May 1978. This "broke the egg and Bat Out of Hell spilled out all over the world," he told Rolling Stone. "We went from selling no records at the end of May to being five-times platinum."
Listen to Meat Loaf Perform 'I'd Do Anything For Love'
Meat Loaf and Steinman would go on to record five more LPs together, although the relationship was not always a smooth one. They had several disputes over the years, and were involved in a $50 million lawsuit in 2006 over trademarking the phrase "bat out of hell." The two eventually repaired things and collaborated on 2016's Braver Than We Are. When Steinman died in April 2021, Meat Loaf said "we belonged heart and soul to each other. We didn’t know each other. We were each other."
From the beginning, Meat Loaf was a prolific performer, and he spent at least part of every year from the mid-'80s through 2016 on tour. Eventually, however, a lifelong combination of being large-framed and extremely active on stage took a toll. He underwent replacement surgery on both knees in 2012-13, and had spinal fusion surgery in 2016 after an on-stage collapse at a concert in Edmonton that initially blamed on dehydration.
He attributed this to struggles with his weight in an interview later that year: "It’s probably because I weighed 300 pounds most of my life." Although, he added, "running around the stage, doing what I was doing, rolls and jumps, didn't help."
The final years of Meat Loaf's life saw him honored in a stage version of Bat Out of Hell in 2017. He continued to attend film and television festivals, and occasionally promised future musical projects. "I’m not old," he told the Mirror in 2020. I’ve got songs for another record and I’m reading a script."
Throughout it all, Aday remained true to his vision of fully inhabiting characters on screen and stage, or in concert as Meat Loaf – his greatest character of all. At the heart of his prodigious abilities was his passion as a performer. He would sum things up with a self-deprecating phrase he credited to music-producer Tom Cavallo: "Meat Loaf is an actor who acts like he can sing."
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