NEW YORK (AP) — Meat Loaf, heavy rock superstar loved by millions for his Bat Out of Hell album and his theatrical, dark anthems like Paradise By the Dashboard Light, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “I’d do anything for love (but I won’t)” died. He was 74 years old.
The singer, born Marvin Lee Adey, passed away on Thursday, according to a family statement provided by his longtime agent Michael Green.
“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable meatloaf has passed away tonight,” the statement said. “We know how much he meant to so many of you and we sincerely appreciate all the love and support as we go through this time of grief over the loss of such an inspiring artist and wonderful person…From his heart to your souls…don’t ever- someday I’ll stop swinging!”
No cause or other details were given, but Adey has had numerous health problems over the years.
Bat Out of Hell, his mega-selling collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman and producer Todd Rundgren, came out in 1977 and established him as one of rock’s most recognizable acts.
Fans fell deeply in love with the 250-plus-pound, long-haired singer’s roaring vocals and the comically unromantic nature of the title track “You took the words right out of my mouth”, “Two out of three is not Bad” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”, an opera cautionary tale about how to get to the end.
“Paradise” was a duet with Ellen Foley that featured New York Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, who claimed—much to skepticism—that he was unaware of any alternate meanings of reaching third base and going home.
After a slow start and mixed reviews, “Bat Out of Hell” became one of the best-selling albums in history with worldwide sales of over 40 million copies. Meat Loaf was not a consistent hitmaker, especially after years of falling out with Steinman. But he maintained close ties with his fans through his frantic live performances, social media, and numerous TV, radio, and film appearances, including Fight Club and cameos in Glee and South Park.
Friends and fans mourned his death on social media. “I hope heaven is what you remember from the light on the dashboard, Meat Loaf,” actor Stephen Fry wrote on Twitter. Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted: “The vaults of heaven will ring with stones.” And Adam Lambert called Meat Loaf: “A soft rock star with a tender heart forever. You were so kind. Your music will always be iconic.”
Meat Loaf’s biggest musical success since “Bat Out of Hell” was “Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell”, a 1993 reunion with Steinman that sold over 15 million copies, with the single “I’d Do Anything” received a Grammy Award. for love (but I won’t).”
Steinman died in April.
Adey’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 a lot of fun” as a duet. “I feel very sorry for his family, friends and fans.”
A native of Dallas, Aday was the son of a schoolteacher who raised him alone after divorcing his alcoholic father, a police officer. Adey sang and played in high school (Mick Jagger was an early favorite, as was Ethel Merman), studied at Lubbock Christian College and at what is now the University of North Texas. Among his most notable childhood memories, he saw John F. Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas on November 22, 1963, then learned that the president had been assassinated, drove to Parkland Hospital, and saw a bloodied Jackie Kennedy getting out of the car.
He was still a teenager when his mother died and when he was given the nickname Meatloaf, the supposed origin of which ranges from his weight to his mother’s favorite recipe. He moved to Los Angeles after college and soon became the frontman for Meat Loaf Soul. Over the years, he has alternated between music and the stage, recording briefly for Motown, opening for the likes of The Who and the Grateful Dead, and appearing in the Broadway production of Hair.
By the mid-1970s, he had played the lobotomized biker Eddie in the theatrical and film adaptations of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, was the stunt double for his friend John Belushi in National Lampoon, and began working with Steinman on The Bat Out of Hell. The tight, powerful production was clearly influenced by Wagner, Phil Spector and Bruce Springsteen, whose bandmates Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg played on the record. Rundgren originally thought of the album as a parody of Springsteen’s grandiose style.
Steinman has known Meat Loaf since the singer appeared in his 1973 musical More Than You Deserve, and some songs from Bat Out of Hell, including “All Revved Up With No Place to Go”, were originally written for a scheduled performance. stage show based on the story of Peter Pan. “Bat Out of Hell” took more than two years to find a performer as many record executives dropped it, including RCA’s Clive Davis, who disparaged Steinman’s songs and admitted he underestimated the singer: “The songs seemed very theatrical.” , and Meat Loaf, despite his 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 did not make much of an impression until a few months after its release, a live video for the title track was shown on the UK program Old Gray Whistle Test. In the US, his connection to Rocky Horror helped him when he convinced producer Lou Adler to use the “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” music video as a trailer for the cult film. But at first, Meat Loaf was so little known that he began his Bat Out of Hell tour in Chicago as the opening act for Cheap Trick, then one of the most popular bands in the world.
“I remember driving up to the cinema and it said, TODAY: CHEAP TRICK WITH MEAT LOAF. And I said to myself, “These people think we’re serving dinner,” Meat Loaf explained in the 2013 syndicated radio show In the Studio.
“And we get on stage and these people were such Cheap Trick fans that they booed us from the start. They got up and showed us the finger. The first six rows stood up and shouted… When we finished, most of the hooting stopped and we almost heard applause.”
He is survived by Deborah Gillespie, his wife since 2007, and daughters Pearl and Amanda Adey.
AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton from Los Angeles.