One of Rock’s larger than life characters has passed away at the age of 74. Born Marvin Lee Adey in Dallas, the former high-school football player relocated to New York in the late 60s, and began landing roles in musical theatre, most notably ‘Hair’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Show’.
It was in this world that he encountered Jim Steinman, a collaboration that would later lead to huge commercial success. Despite earlier attempts at the music business with his band ‘Meat Loaf Soul’ (a name given to him allegedly by his football coach) and a brush with Motown, it was his role as Eddie in the film version – ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ that garnered him more attention.
Work on ‘Bat Out of Hell’ started in the mid-70s but due to its theatrical style, at odds with much music of the time, it took until 1977 before a label took a chance on releasing it. The combination of Steinman’s Wagner-esque bombastic songwriting and Meat Loaf’s dramatic powerhouse voice and stage presence, proved to be a killer combination. The album went on to sell 43 million copies worldwide.
The success resulted in estrangement and bitter legal battles between the two, with Steinman scoring hits for other artists such as Bonnie Tyler, as Meat Loaf struggled with drugs and exhaustion from the endless touring. The 80s were a fallow period for the singer, but the pair eventually reunited and ‘Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell’ thrust him back to the top of the charts, spawning the massive hit, ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’.
Meat Loaf went on to play many minor but memorable movie roles, in films such as ‘Wayne’s World’, ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Spice World’, his charismatic persona being instantly recognisable.
Few artists have managed to straddle the abyss between extravagant showbiz icon and likeable everyday guy with such ease. The image of overblown paint-stripping vocals, frilly shirt and OTT melodramatic performance will surely endure, but he will be equally remembered by many as an all-round genuine guy. Sadly, we have now scuppered our chances of ever finding out just what that thing is he wouldn’t do.