Meat Loaf, the singer and actor who holds one of the best-selling albums of all time with 1977’s Bat Out of Hell, has died. He was 74. The singer’s death was confirmed by a post on his official Facebook page. A cause of death was not given.
“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 post reads. “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.”
Prior to the smash hit Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf first found success on the Broadway stage in Hair in 1968. He went on to stage brief-but-memorable roles in The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Eddie and later in Fight Club as Robert Paulson. He appeared in over 65 movies throughout his life, including Wayne’s World, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, and more.
Meat Loaf, born Michael Lee Aday on September 27th, 1947, in Dallas, TX, started on his path to rock superstardom when he began working with composer Jim Steinman in the early 1970s on More Than You Deserve, a Public Theatre production Steinman had created in New York. The two strengthened a bond when they traveled together with the touring National Lampoon company, where Meat served as an understudy for John Belushi.
The two began working on a collaborative album, taking a brief pause for Meat Loaf to play Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975, and in 1977 released Bat Out of Hell. The album went on to go platinum 14 times over, thanks to singles “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Nights)”, and “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”. Success did not come overnight, however, as critics largely panned Bat Out of Hell. The album did not chart commercial success until Meat Loaf appeared on Saturday Night Live on March 25th, 1978.
“Saturday Night Live broke the egg and Bat Out of Hell spilled out all over the world,” Meat Loaf told Rolling Stone last year. “We went from selling no records at the end of May to being five times platinum. From that point on, I was always at 11. I would get up, go the morning radio, go to soundcheck, do interviews, do the show, sometimes go to a radio station after the show. I’d go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings.”
Unfortunately, attempts at a follow-up were disastrous. The four years between Bat Out of Hell and Dead Ringer in 1981 were marred by lawsuits and an emotional breakdown for Meat Loaf, resulting in the temporary loss of his singing voice. When Meat Loaf and Steinman finally did produce another album, the public had moved on and the result was a financial flop. The next decade saw even worse financial results with a string of failures including Midnight at the Lost and Found, Bad Attitude, and Blind Before I Stop. Meat Loaf ultimately declared bankruptcy.
“It was horrible,” Meat Loaf said in 1993. “The kids took a beating. My wife would try to write a check at the grocery store, and they wouldn’t take it, even though it was fine. So I just worked. I always have. No big deal.”
All the while, Meat Loaf continued a prodigious touring schedule, especially in Europe. He also found acting work in such films as Wayne’s World, Leap of Faith, and The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag. Steinman, on the other hand, went on to write hits for artists including Air Supply, Bonnie Tyler, and Barbra Streisand. After numerous false starts, Meat Loaf and Steinman finally reconnected in 1993 for Bat Out of Hell II: Back to Hell.
While the United States was emersed in grunge, Meat Loaf inexplicably charted the biggest hit of his career with “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”. The album hit Number One on the Hot 100 and earned him a Grammy for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance. Meat Loaf’s late-career comeback landed him more roles in Nash Bridges, Spiceworld, and—most memorably—as a flabby chested man nicknamed Bitch Tits in Fight Club.
More commercial flops followed in the wake of Bat Out of Hell II. Any hopes at a third installment were dashed when Steinman suffered a stroke. Meat Loaf went on to tour through the 2000s, until he collapsed onstage on June 16th, 2016 while singing “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” in Edmonton, Alberta. It proved to be the final tour of his career.
Steinman died last year, after which Meat Load spent two days on the phone with Rolling Stone talking about their decades-long partnership.
“I don’t want to die, but I may die this year because of Jim,” he said. “I’m always with him and he’s right here with me now. I’ve always been with Jim and Jim has always been with me. We belonged heart and soul to each other. We didn’t know each other. We were each other.”
[H/T Rolling Stone]