Meat Loaf, ‘Bat Out of Hell’ rock superstar, dies at 74


NEW YORK (AP) — Meat Loaf, the heavyweight rock superstar loved by millions for his "Bat Out of
Hell" album and for such theatrical, dark-hearted anthems as "Paradise By the Dashboard
Light," "Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad," and "I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do
That)," has died. He was 74.
The singer born Marvin Lee Aday died 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 said. "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… From his heart to your souls… don’t ever stop rocking!"
No cause or other details were given, but Aday had numerous health scares over the years.
"Bat Out of Hell," his mega-selling collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman and producer
Todd Rundgren, came out in 1977 and made him one of the most recognizable performers in rock.
Fans fell hard for the roaring vocals of the long-haired, 250-plus pound singer and for the comic
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.
"Paradise" was a duet with Ellen Foley that featured play-by-play from New York Yankees
broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, who alleged — to much skepticism — that he was unaware of any alternate
meanings to reaching third base and heading for home.
After a slow start and mixed reviews, "Bat Out of Hell" became one of the top-selling albums in
history, with worldwide sales of more than 40 million copies. Meat Loaf wasn’t a consistent hit maker,
especially after falling out for years with Steinman. But he maintained close ties with his fans through
his manic live shows, social media and his many television, radio and film appearances, including
"Fight Club" and cameos on "Glee" and "South Park."
Friends and fans mourned his death on social media. "I hope paradise is as you remember it from the
dashboard light, Meat Loaf," actor Stephen Fry said on Twitter. Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted:
"The vaults of heaven will be ringing with rock." And Adam Lambert called Meat Loaf: "A
gentle hearted powerhouse rock star forever and ever. You were so kind. Your music will always be
Meat Loaf’s biggest musical success after "Bat Out of Hell" was "Bat Out of Hell II: Back
into Hell," a 1993 reunion with Steinman that sold more than 15 million copies and featured the
Grammy-winning single "I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)."
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." His songs included "Dead Ringer for Love"
with Cher and she shared on Twitter that she "had so much fun" on the duet. "Am very
sorry for his family, friends and fans."
A native of Dallas, Aday was the son of a school teacher who raised him on her own after divorcing his
alcoholic father, a police officer. Aday was singing and acting in high school (Mick Jagger was an early
favorite, so was Ethel Merman) and attended Lubbock Christian College and what is now the University of
North Texas. Among his more notable childhood memories: Seeing John F. Kennedy arrive at Love Field in
Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, then learning the president had been assassinated and driving to Parkland
Hospital and watching a bloodied Jackie Kennedy step out of a car.
He was still a teenager when his mother died and when he acquired the nickname Meat Loaf, the alleged
origins of which range from his weight to a favorite recipe of his mother’s. He left for Los Angeles
after college and was soon fronting the band Meat Loaf Soul. For years, he alternated between music and
the stage, recording briefly for Motown, opening for such acts as the Who and the Grateful Dead and
appearing in the Broadway production of "Hair."
By the mid-1970s, he was playing the lobotomized biker Eddie in the theater and film versions of
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show," had served as an understudy for his friend John Belushi for
the stage production of National Lampoon and had begun working with Steinman on "Bat Out of
Hell." The dense, pounding production was openly influenced by Wagner, Phil Spector and Bruce
Springsteen, whose bandmates Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg played on the record. Rundgren initially
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 songs on "Bat Out of Hell," including "All Revved Up With
No Place to Go," were initially written for a planned stage show based on the story of Peter Pan.
"Bat Out of Hell" took more than two years to find a taker as numerous record executives
turned it down, including RCA’s Clive Davis, who disparaged Steinman’s songs and acknowledged that he
had misjudged the singer: "The songs were coming over as very theatrical, and Meat Loaf, despite a
powerful voice, just didn’t look like a star," Davis wrote in his memoir, "The Soundtrack of
My Life."
With the help of another Springsteen sideman, Steve Van Zandt, "Bat Out of Hell" was acquired
by Cleveland International, a subsidiary of Epic Records. The album made little impact until months
after its release, when a concert video of the title track was aired on the British program the Old Grey
Whistle Test. In the U.S., his connection to "Rocky Horror" helped when he convinced producer
Lou Adler to use a video for "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" as a trailer for the cult
movie. But Meat Loaf was so little known at first that he began his "Bat Out of Hell" tour in
Chicago as the opening act for Cheap Trick, then one of the world’s hottest groups.
"I remember pulling up at the theater and it says, ‘TONIGHT: CHEAP TRICK, WITH MEAT LOAF.’ And I
said to myself, ‘These people think we’re serving dinner,’" Meat Loaf explained in 2013 on the
syndicated radio show "In the Studio."
"And we walk out on stage and these people were such Cheap Trick fans they booed us from the start.
They were getting up and giving us the finger. The first six rows stood up and screamed… 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 by daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday.
AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton contributed from Los Angeles.
Meat Loaf, ‘Bat Out of Hell’ rock superstar, dies at 74


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