Meat Loaf, the legendary rocker best known for his Bat Out of Hell trilogy, has passed away. He was 74 years old.
According to a family statement provided by his longtime agent Michael Greene, the singer died Thursday (Jan. 20). While no cause of death was given, it is known that he had numerous health scares over the years.
“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!”
Born Marvin Lee Aday in 1947 in Dallas, the rocker was the only child of a school teacher/gospel quartet singer and former police offer. His childhood wa plagued by his father's alcoholism and following his mother's passing in the late 60s, he left Texas for Los Angeles and formed his first band, Meat Loaf Soul.
Aday would first find major success in musical theater, with his role in the Los Angeles production of Hair. That role ultimately led to a brief career on Broadway. Meat Loaf’s most famous role was Eddie in the first Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a part he reprised in the cult classic film adaptation.
While on Broadway, Aday began working on Bat Out of Hell, his mega-selling collaboration with songwriter friend Jim Steinman and producer Todd Rundgren. In 1974, he got serious about making solo music, leading him to release the LP in 1977. It gained traction slowly - first in Australia, then the United Kingdom, and finally, in North America. He became known for his roaring vocals, with standout tracks like "Bat Out of Hell," “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.”
Though it had 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. It spent 82 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at #14, with three tracks hitting the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. The record was even adapted into a musical by Jim Steinman.
Besides his magnum opus album, Meat Loaf released two follow-ups to that album to create a trilogy. Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell topped the Billboard 200 and included his hit "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)." The song became a Hot 100 #1 for five weeks in 1993, also earning him a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance.
While Meat Loaf struggled to establish consistent commercial success, he maintained close connections with his fans through his theatrical live shows, social media, and many television, radio, and film appearances: including The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Fight Club, Wayne's World, Glee, and South Park.
Meat Loaf's last record was 2016's Braver Than We Are - also his last collaboration with Steinmen before the songwriter died last year.
Over the years, Meat Loaf suffered various ailments, often as a result of his stage antics. Eventually, back surgeries and ill health later in life left him unable to perform.
In 2018, Meat Loaf spoke with Rolling Stone about his decades-long career. By that time, he was largely housebound and unable to sing due to health concerns.
“From how I grew up, that’s where I learned to be tough and to never stop,” he said. “I mean, I’m tough as nails. Got hit in the head with a whiskey bottle. Had my head slammed into a locker. I’ve had 18 concussions. And nothing, nothing has ever put me down. Yeah, man. I never go down.”
Meat Loaf is survived by Deborah Gillespie, his wife since 2007, and by daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday.
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