Meat Loaf, the heavyweight rock superstar loved by millions for his ‘Bat Out of Hell’ album and for dark, theatrical anthems like ‘Paradise By the Dashboard Light’, ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’ and “I’d do anything for love (but I won’t)”, died. He was 74.
Marvin-born singer Lee Aday died on Thursday, according to a family statement provided by his longtime agent Michael Greene.
“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight,” the statement read. “We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all the love and support we are going through this time of grieving to lose such an inspiring artist and a beautiful man… From his heart to yours souls, never stop having fun!”
No cause or other details were given, but Aday has had numerous health issues over the years.
“Bat Out of Hell,” his mega-selling collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman and producer Todd Rundgren, was released in 1977 and made him one of rock’s most recognizable performers. Fans fell in love with the long-haired 250+ pound singer’s roaring voice and the comedic non-romance of the title track, “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth”, “Two Out of Three Ain’ t Bad” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”, an operatic cautionary tale about going all the way.
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“Paradise” was a duet with Ellen Foley that featured piece-by-piece New York Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, who alleged – with great skepticism – that he was unaware of any other meaning for reaching third. base and go home.
After a slow start and mixed reviews, “Bat Out of Hell” became one of the best-selling albums in history, with worldwide sales of over 40 million copies. Meat Loaf was not a consistent hit, especially after years of feuding with Steinman. But he has maintained a close bond with his fans through his manic live shows, social media, and numerous TV, radio and film appearances, including “Fight Club” and cameos on “Glee” and ” South Park”.
Friends and fans reacted to the death on social media.
“I hope heaven is as you remember it from the dash light, Meat Loaf,” actor Stephen Fry tweeted.
Meat Loaf’s biggest musical hit after “Bat Out of Hell” was “Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell,” a 1993 reunion with Steinman that sold over 15 million copies and went viral. featured the Grammy-winning single “I’d Do Anything”. for love (but I won’t do that).
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Steinman died in April.
Aday’s other albums included “Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose”, “Hell in a Handbasket”, and “Braver Than We Are”.
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Originally from Dallas, Aday was the son of a schoolteacher who raised him alone after divorcing his alcoholic father, a policeman. Aday sang and acted in high school (Mick Jagger was an early favorite, as was Ethel Merman) and attended Lubbock Christian College and what is now the University of North Texas. Among his most notable childhood memories: seeing John F. Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas on November 22, 1963, then learning that the president had been assassinated and going to Parkland Hospital and watching a bloodied Jackie Kennedy walk out of ‘a car.
He was still a teenager when his mother died and he acquired the nickname Meat Loaf, whose alleged origins go from his weight to a favorite recipe of his mother. He moved to Los Angeles after college and soon headlined Meat Loaf Soul. For years he alternated between music and performing, recording briefly for Motown, opening for acts such as the Who and the Grateful Dead, and appearing in the Broadway production of “Hair.”
In the mid-1970s, he played brainwashed biker Eddie in stage and film versions of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, acted as a stunt double for his friend John Belushi in the National Lampoon stage production, and began working with Steinman. on “Bat Out of Hell”. The dense, pounding production was overtly influenced by Wagner, Phil Spector and Bruce Springsteen, whose bandmates Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg played on the record. Rundgren first thought of the album as a parody of Springsteen’s grandiose style.
Steinman had known Meat Loaf since the singer appeared in his 1973 musical “More Than You Deserve” and some of the “Bat Out of Hell” songs, including “All Revved Up With No Place to Go,” were originally written for a stage show project based on the story of Peter Pan.
“Bat Out of Hell” took more than two years to find takers as many record executives turned it down, including RCA’s Clive Davis, who disparaged Steinman’s songs and admitted that he had misjudged the singer: “The songs were getting very theatrical, and Meat Loaf, despite having a powerful voice, just didn’t sound like a star,” Davis wrote in his memoir, “The Soundtrack of My Life.”
With the help of fellow Springsteen sideman Steve Van Zandt, “Bat Out of Hell” was acquired by Cleveland International, a subsidiary of Epic Records. The album had little impact until months after its release, when a concert video for the title track aired on UK show Old Gray Whistle Test.
In the United States, his connection with “Rocky Horror” helped him when he convinced producer Lou Adler to use a video for “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” as a trailer for the cult film. But Meat Loaf was so little known at first that he started his “Bat Out of Hell” tour in Chicago as the opening act for Cheap Trick, then one of the hottest bands in the world.
“I remember stopping by the theater and it said, ‘TONIGHT: CHEAP, WITH MEATLOAF.’ And I was like, ‘These people think we’re serving dinner,'” Meat Loaf explained in 2013 on the syndicated radio show “In the Studio.”
“And we go on stage and these people were such fans of Cheap Trick that they booed us from the start. They stood up and gave us the middle finger. The first six ranks stood up and shouted. … When we finished, most of the boos had stopped and we were almost getting applause.
He is survived by Deborah Gillespie, his wife since 2007, and his daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday.
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