Operatic-rock legend Meat Loaf, who sold some 100 million copies of his iconic Bat Out of Hell albums featuring the songs of Jim Steinman, died Thursday after a battle with COVID-19. He was 74.
His sudden death was announced on Facebook in a message that read: "Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends."
After ticking off a few of his accomplishments, the statement continued, "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. We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!"
The singer, born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947, in Dallas, has long battled health problems, including asthma, obesity and pain from spinal surgery. It is thought he was unvaccinated — he was against vaccine mandates, just one of his controversial views. In late 2019, he called teen climate-change activist Greta Thunberg a word DailyMail.com refused to even hint at while branding her "brainwashed." He was a supporter of the Trump family, having appeared on The Apprentice in 2011 alongside teammate Marlee Matlin (b. 1965).
Meat Loaf got his name from his first rock band, Meat Loaf Soul, chosen as a nod to his weight. He had formed the outfit after escaping an abusive father, but found he still had to constantly prove himself in an industry that treated him as a clown rather than as a serious musician.
His first noteworthy success came when he cut an album with Shaun "Stoney" Murphy (b. 1948) called Stoney & Meat Loaf that led to the #71 Billboard hit "What You See Is What You Get" in 1971.
He appeared in Hair in L.A. and on Broadway, where he met Jim Steinman (1947-2021), who would become his chief collaborator, and the man whose songs would provide Meat Loaf with the right material to prove himself as a superstar.
The two began working on an album that would become Bat Out of Hell as early as 1972, with Meat Loaf appearing in original production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. When the hit show was turned into a cult-classic movie in 1975, he repeated his performance, earning a place in movie history.
But his greatest success was yet to come. In 1977, with the release of Bat Out of Hell, he sold 40 million albums worldwide and instantly established himself as a rock god. Mostly buoyed by live performances (he embarked on some 30 tours throughout his life), the album also benefited from early music videos for its hit singles "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" (#39 in 1977), "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" (#11 in 1978) and the duet with Ellen Foley (b. 1951) "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" (#39 in 1978).
The overwhelming impact left Meat Loaf spiraling. Weight gain, substance abuse and self-doubt left him in financial trouble and creatively adrift. He continued recording and acting, but couldn't recapture the magic until 1993's Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, with its #1 single "I'd Do Anything for Love (but I Won't Do That)," performed with Lorraine Crosby (b. 1960).
His mojo regained, he achieved several more hit singles: "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" (#13 in 1994), "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are" (#38 in 1994), a duet with Patti Russo (b. 1964) called "I'd Lie for You (and That's the Truth)" (#13 in `1995) and "Not a Dry Eye in the House" (#82 in 1996).
The album sold multiple millions, though a third try, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose (2006), failed to click.
Along with his work in music, Meat Loaf appeared in over 60 movies and TV projects. Along with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which he was Eddie, he appeared in Americathon (1979), Scavenger Hunt (1979), Roadie (1980), Dead Ringer (1981), Wayne's World (1992), Leap of Faith (1992), Spice World (1997), The Mighty (1998), Crazy in Alabama (1999), Focus (2001), BloodRayne (2005) and Beautiful Boy (2010), and had a major, pivotal role in Fight Club (1999) as a man saddled with "moobs."
Meat Loaf is survived by his wife and two daughters.