Meat Loaf (1977-present): a Hard Rock band from USA.
is Real Name was Marvin Lee Aday (September 27, 1947 - January 20, 2022) and he was a large man, the "Man-Mountain" as he became known. The alias Meat Loaf (yes spelled with two words) was given to him by his school football coach at age 13 after he had accidentally stepped on the coach's foot, but long before that his friends and family had already been calling him simply "Meat". At 15 his mother died of cancer and his relationship with his alcoholic father worsened. In 1967 he set off to Los Angeles to start the psychedelic club band Popcorn Blizzard. In 1969 he auditioned for a roll in the stage play Hair, and got a part. He and the play vocalist Stoney, recorded a self-titled LP in 1971 that got them a minor Billboard charting. But in 1974, Hair closed and he found himself working with Jim Steinman on a new musical in New York called More Than You Deserve, he would also land a part in the cult classic film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and vocals on Ted Nugent's Free For All release in 1976, not to mention a spot with the National Lampoon Road show.
With a deal on 'Epic Records', and the help of eccentric songwriter/producer Jim Steinman and Bruce Springsteen's E-street Band with Roy Bitan (piano/keyboards), Max Weinburg (drums), Kasim Sultan (bass), Roger Powell (synthesizer ), Rory Dodd and Ellen Foley (backing vocals) his next career move would create a heavy metal phenomenon. His 1977 debut Bat Out Of Hell, an operatic horror show put to music, was the net result. For the first six months it was ignored while he toured, but immediately after the tour, it zipped up the charts systematically in country after country. In the US it stayed for 88 weeks, and in the UK it managed a hefty 395 weeks. If you were living in Canada, rock radio stations couldn't get enough making it a daily staple for nearly three years! It immediately became a cult classic and radio couldn't get enough. Within that time it sold 30 million units, the third biggest release of all time. Decades later it remains an excellent seller selling over 43 million units thus far.
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But Meat Loaf couldn't cope with his newfound stardom; he drank heavily, had bouts of depression and suicidal tendencies and, for a time, lost his voice. Before the completion of what was supposed to be his second recording, both Steinman and his manager left leaving legal hassles behind. Steinman would take the half completed compositions and publish his own album with himself on vocals, but that ended off being a market flop.
After a long break, Meat Loaf would once again publish a record. His wife was now his manager and booking agent. He composed new material and used some of Steinman's and his own ideas unused on Bat Out Of Hell to create something fresh. This new release basically continued where Bat Out Of Hell finished. Dead Ringer, as it would come to be named, made a UK #1 in 1981, but barely made it into the US Billboard 50. Its hit status was brief, however. It featured Cher on guest vocals and session musicians. Time had marched on and the grandiose style of Meat Loaf's music was not what the public wanted and he soon lost his recording contract. His situation worsened because now he had used up Steinman's unique song writing and the slackening of standards was noticeable for the next two releases, Midnight At The Lost And Found (1983) and Bad Attitude (1985; recorded in the UK). These were nowhere near the hits that his past opuses were; with extensive touring in Europe he obtained a UK top 10 for them but not much else, in fact none of the releases he recorded during the mid to late 1980s were released for North America. Midnight At The Lost And Found did offer two hits, however, in the form of Total Eclipse of the Heart and Making Love Out of Nothing at All when released as singles by Bonnie Tyler and and Air Supply respectively. Even though Meat Loaf claimed Steinman had gifted these songs to the album previous to their separation, the record company refused to pay the due royalties and a law suit ensured.
On Blind Before I Stop (1986) he teamed up with John Parr for the strongest single on the album Rock 'n' Roll Mercenaries. The album and single didn't exactly fly off the shelf but it was the best thus far of his life without Steinman. Outside of the studio, however, his live performances featured an all-star band accompanying him to elaborate 3 hour live shows, and in 1987 the live album Live At Wimbley (1987) was released. During this time he was also featured in many films like Roadie, Americathon, and later in the 1990s, Leap Of Faith and Wayne's World. But with all of this he was still reduced to a bar act, playing at small venues. It was word of mouth from fans that saw his shows that catapulted his career back into the lights. During 1990 until 1993 Bat Out Of Hell was once again back in the charts with some 11 million more units sold. Meat Loaf, it would seem, was being re-discovered.
In 1990, just previous to his re-discovery, he got a deal with 'Virgin Records' but for a long time he maintained his silence. He was silent, that is, until the media found out that he and Steinman were working together again. So with no further adieu he released Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell in 1993 featuring the membership of Mrs. Loud (female vocals), Bill Payne and Roy Bitan (piano), Tim Pierce and Eddie Martinez (guitar), Kenny Arnoff, rock Marotta, Brian Meagher, Jimmy Bralower (all drums), Steve Buslowe (bass), Pat Thrall (guitar solo), Lenny Pickett (sax), Jeff Bova (synthesizer ) and others, and featuring both new and re-hashed tracks from Steinman's solo days. Many complained that this album was a clone of its parent but what the critics couldn't explain is how well it did, and the single I'll Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) sailed to Number 1, and the original Bat Out Of Hell, from the original record followed it for the ride. The follow-up Alive In Hell (1994) did not get the media coverage of its predecessor. Nonetheless Welcome To The Neighborhood (1995) lived on its predecessor's reputation by getting a top 3. The "best of..." compilation of The Very Best Of Meat Loaf followed in 1998 and made 14 in the USA.
In 2003, Meat Loaf released his album Couldn't Have Said It Better. For the third time in his career, Meat Loaf would release an album without any songs written by Jim Steinman (not counting live bonus tracks on special edition releases). Although Meat Loaf claimed that the album was, "the most perfect album since Bat Out of Hell". The best since? Despite this claim, it was not quite. The album, however, did manage a minor hit status by reaching 4 in the UK charts. The album was accompanied by a sellout world tour to promote the album - sold out mostly because of his biggest past hits.
February 20 - 22, 2004, during an Australian tour, he performed his classics with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, titled Bat Out of Hell: Live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He went as far as to bring in the Australian Boys' Choir to do back-up on a Couldn't Have Said It Better track, Testify. The show went on to spawn a DVD and a CD called Meat Loaf and The Neverland Express featuring Patti Russo live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The CD also featured some edited songs from the concert on it.
Meat Loaf and Steinman began to work on the third installment of Bat Out of Hell when Steinman health issues, including a heart attack. In a further complication, Steinman had registered the phrase "Bat Out of Hell" as a trademark in 1995. So, in May 2006, Meat Loaf sued Steinman and his manager in federal District Court in Los Angeles, seeking $50 million and an injunction against Steinman. Steinman and his representatives attempted to block the album's release. In July 2006, some kind of an agreement came to be that ensured, "Steinman's music would remain a part of the Bat Out of Hell legacy" - according to a record company press release, a release that made no reference as to who actually owns the name. All the same, the album finally got published on October 31, 2006. It entered the UK singles chart at No. 6, giving Meat Loaf his highest UK chart position in nearly 11 years. The album debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and sold 81,000 copies in its opening week, but after that did not sell well in the United States and yielded no hit singles, although it was certified gold.
During a performance at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle upon Tyne, England on October 31, 2007, at the opening of Paradise by the Dashboard Light he suggested that the crowd of thousands should enjoy the performance as it was the last of his career. He attempted to sing the first line of the song, but instead said "Ladies and gentlemen, I love you, thank you for coming, but I can no longer continue." Removing the jacket he was wearing, he thanked the audience for 30 years, said "goodbye forever" and left the stage; the next two gigs in the tour, at the NEC and Manchester Evening News Arena were cancelled because of "acute laryngitis" and were rescheduled for late November. Indeed, the rest of his English and European tours were cancelled.
In May 2009, Meat Loaf started his work on Hang Cool Teddy Bear, the next album, in the studio with Green Day's American Idiot album producer Rob Cavallo, working with such writers as Justin Hawkins, Rick Brantley, Tommy Henriksen and Jon Bon Jovi. The album arrived in 2010, followed by Hell in a Handbasket a year later.
At the 2011 Australian Football League Grand Final, the pre-match entertainment was headlined by a 12-minute medley performed by Meat Loaf. The performance was called, "the worst in the 34-year history of AFL Grand Final pre-game entertainment!" Meat Loaf responded by calling online critics "butt-smellers", and the AFL "jerks", saying, "I will go out of my way to tell any artist, 'Do not play for them.'".
Differences settled, he was once again with Jim Steinman; the next album would arrive in 2016 titled, Braver Than We Are.
Braver Than We Are, however would prove to be his last album for he would die on January 20,2022 of complications due to COVID-19.
The story of Meat Loaf is a true come back story to beat all. His music was unique when he started and stayed that way despite all odds. His music was best described as "Rock-Opera". By the end of the 1990s Aday even lost much of his girth, as if to say he was "fit for the job". As he did so many years ago, he still dresses the part and performs his shows in concert halls accompanied by a complete orchestra. Looking more like an Opera singer then a Rocker the non-fan would have no clue to his unique form of rock music by simply looking at him. He successfully incorporates synthesizers, pianos and other such items into his music. The unique style of the Aday and Steinman team is what made their music hits, a partnership once described as "Nobody writes like Jim Steinman - bombastic, over the top, and all these things are positives".
Footnote: Bat Out Of Hell: Produced by Todd Rundgren, almost didn't happen at all. Since 1975, when many of the classic songs of the album were originally written, record companies universally rejected the songs as being too visually complex to be put on album. It was only after heavy touring and independent promotion that the album finally got noticed. Few demo tapes of the album were actually made, but in the end the Wagner influenced gothic opera that would become "Bat Out Of Hell" was a huge hit in England, Canada and Australia before making it in the USA!
Footnote: Meat Loaf is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with worldwide sales of more than 80 million records. Bat Out of Hell itself has sold more than 43 million copies worldwide. More than 40 years after its release, it still sells an estimated 200,000 copies annually, and stayed on the charts for over nine years, making it one of the best selling albums of all time.
Footnote: Todd Rundgren is featured on the disc as a performer. He plays guitar on the title track, the guitar that imitates the sound of the motorcycle and it crashing.
Footnote: The baseball game on 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light' is not real but is narrated by New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto that serves as a metaphor for the male character's attempts to achieve his sexual goal. Listen carefully and the New York Yankees are mentioned in it and the maneuver they are trying to perform (in the game) is known as a 'suicide squeeze'.
Footnote: Before his death (2019) Meat Loaf gave his endorsement to Caleb Johnson & The Neverland Express, a cover act performing his music. There is a good reason, Johnson is a spitting image of a younger Meat Loaf in sound and appearance!
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