Monday, Nov 28, 2022

Remembering Meat Loaf: The Man Who Sang Rock With Operatic Energy

People from across the globe mourned the death of Meat Loaf, as an artiste who continued to inspire excellence despite the hardships that came his way and will continue to remember him for his larger-than-life approach, flamboyance, funny, and rebellious personality.

Marvin Lee
Marvin Lee Getty Images

Rock’n’roll was never meant to answer the questions of the universe. It’s a laugh. I’m a laugh. So, laugh at me if you like. I have no problem with that: Marvin Lee Aday aKa Meat Loaf 

Meat Loaf, one of the biggest icons of Rock’n’Roll music, who has sold over 100 million albums worldwide and also appeared in more than 50 films and TV shows, died at age 74, according to a statement on his verified Facebook page. 

Following the news, tributes poured in for the American rockstar, whose ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ album is one of the best-selling of all time.  

Born as Marvin Lee Aday, in Dallas in 1947, his mother was a school teacher and gospel singer and his father a former police officer who developed alcoholism after being medically discharged from the US army during the second world war. He got his nickname Meat loaf, because his father said he looked as “red as meat” at birth, and a high school football coach added the "loaf". 

“I always dated the best-looking girls in school, the gorgeous ones, the prom queens, and I was huge. I weighed almost 300 pounds,” Meat Loaf told Houston Press in 2014. “And these guys would come up to me and say, ‘How does a fat motherf****r like you get all these women?’ And you know what I’d tell them? I’d say, ‘Because I understand.’ And they’d just look at me.

He tasted success in during his early years, thanks to his distinctive voice, which ranged over three octaves and he received several contract offers. But he turned them all down, to form his first band, Meat Loaf Soul, as he he supported several rock acts, including Janis Joplin, the Who, the Fugs and the Stooges. But the band’s line up went through several line-up and subsequent name chanes including Floating Circus and Popcorn Blizzard. He released his first ever album in 1967, when he was only 20 with Popcorn Blizzard which sold only 5000 copies. 

It was evident, early on, that Aday was destined for success. “I have the patience of a cat. I’ll sit tight and wait until everything is right,” he had said in an interview, which explains why he waited for 10 years to release his debut album --Bat Out Of Hell – one of the best selling albums of all time.  The album, written and composed by Jim Steimann, took a long time, was rejected by many labels who didn’t understand its genre-defying style, before Cleveland International Records took a chance and history was made. 

Sadly, contractual problems meant he received no royalties from Bat Out Of Hell for years, eventually declaring bankruptcy. In one interview, he admitted that he would pull copies of the CD off record store shelves and smash them under his feet to make sure no-one else got paid, either. 

So he focussed on his career as an actor instead, after having a a breakout role in the 1975 film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show playing Eddie, a feral and ill-fated delivery boy who sings the song ‘Hot Patootie’. He appeared in more than 50 films and TV shows, among them 'Fight Club,' 'Wayne’s World' and 'Spiceworld the Movie.'

He got back to music in a big way when in 1993, he once again collaborated with Steinman for ‘Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell’, which produced numerous hit singles including ‘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)’.

 Critics often asked him about the caveat of I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), his only UK No 1 single, spending seven weeks at the top. Meat Loaf remained cryptic about the answer, responding that it was all in the song if anyone cared to listen properly. He completed with Bat Out of Hell trilogy with The Monster Is Loose in 2006. The three albums have sold more than 65m copies worldwide.

His subsequent 90s albums went platinum in the UK and his profile remained high into the new millennium, but in 2003, during a live performance in England, Meat Loaf collapsed of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. The singer has spoken in the past of physical problems affecting his ability to perform. In 2016, the singer collapsed at a concert in the Canadian city of Edmonton and was admitted to the hospital. The cause was dehydration, a spokesperson said at the time.

But in November 2021, he posted on Facebook that he would be back in the studio in the New Year, while noting that he'd had four back surgeries.

As the world mourns the death of an icon, his peers mourn the death of an artiste who continued to inspire excellence despite the hardships that came his way, Meat Loaf, a true rock great, will always be remembered for his larger-than-life approach, flamboyance, funny, and rebellious personality.