Rock singer Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, died Thursday at the age of 74. After beginnings in the world of musical comedy, he created with Jim Steinman one of the best-selling albums in the world.
He is one of the cult rock singers of the 70s and 80s: Meat Loaf died Thursday night. It was a message posted on his Facebook page that announced it: “It is with a broken heart that we announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf left tonight, his wife Deborah by his side (…). His daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have accompanied him throughout the past 24 hours.“, explains the publication.
Born in Dallas, Texas, in 1947, Marvin Lee Aday had become Meat Loaf early in his career – and has always given several explanations for his pseudonym, the first being that the nickname of “meat” had been given to him by his father, another evoking his imposing stature.
His first group, the “Meat Loaf Soul”, enjoyed regional success, but it was in musicals that he made himself known to the general public: he made his debut, almost by chance, in the show “Hair”. at the very beginning of the 70s, then illustrated himself especially in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, first on stage in 1973, then in the film of the same name in 1975 (in which he played a smaller role).
“Bat Out of Hell”, a late but undisputed success
It was during this foray into the world of Broadway that he met songwriter Jim Steinman. Together, they work on a project around the story of Peter Pan, first imagined as a musical, which will give in 1977 the concept-album “Bat Out Of Hell”. An out-of-format rock opera (some titles are over 9 minutes long) that took two and a half years to see the light of day, and received little support from its own record company.
Sales of the album did not take off until a year later, after Meat Loaf appeared on Saturday Night Live. Over time, “Bat Out Of Hell” became one of the best-selling albums in history, selling over 43 million copies. Ironically, the success of the album allowed it to be… itself adapted into a musical, but 40 years later, in 2017.
After several slack years in the 80s (when he was officially renamed Michael Lee Aday in the civil registry), he made a comeback in the 90s with “I’d do anything for love”, taken from an album entitled … “Bat Out Of Hell II”: after years of disputes, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman had resumed their cooperation. The song earned him a Grammy Award and worldwide recognition, and remains his biggest hit to date. The two artists continue to dispute the rights of their works, going until the lawsuit in 2006.
Cinema, politics and end of career
At the same time, he also plays in the cinema, notably in “Fight Club” by David Fincher in 1999, or, more anecdotally, in “Spice World” where he plays the driver of the Spice Girls. He was also one of the few American rock artists to support the Republican camp: in 2012, he spoke out in favor of candidate Mitt Romney who was campaigning against Barack Obama. The album that followed, in 2016, was according to him an album “explicit and politically incorrect”, the artist saying “hate the politically incorrect”.
In recent years, Meat Loaf had experienced several health problems including vocal cords. He had suffered several illnesses on stage. In 2015, he had resumed the concerts, but had again been the victim of a malaise in Canada.