Meat Loaf, the singer and actor best known for his trilogy of Bat Out of Hell albums, has died at the age of 74. His death was confirmed in a statement from his family:
Our hearts are broken to announce the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends. […] 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!
Meat Loaf was born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Texas in 1947 to a family of gospel singers. In 1967, he moved to Los Angeles and formed a group known as both Meat Loaf Soul and Popcorn Blizzard, landing opening gigs in support of the Who, the Stooges, and Ted Nugent. Aday got his break in musical theater, appearing in the West Coast production of Hair that led to roles in More Than You Deserve and As You Like It. In 1973, Meat Loaf was cast in the first Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Show, playing Eddie, a role he reprised in the cult film adaptation.
During the audition for More Than You Deserve, Aday met his future collaborator Jim Steinman, who wrote Meat Loaf’s major-label debut Bat Out of Hell. Released in 1977, the album was produced by Todd Rundgren and went on to sell more than 40 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time. Steinman and Meat Loaf’s 1993 album Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell included the duo’s trademark power ballad ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’, which won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo. Steinman, who died last year, also collaborated with Meat Loaf for records such as 1981’s Dead Ringer, 1993’s Bat Out of Hell II, and 2016’s Braver Than We Are. Aday wrote in tribute at the time of Steinman’s passing: “Coming here soon, my brother Jimmy.”
Meat Loaf suffered various health setbacks over the course of his career. In 1978, he broke his leg after jumping off a stage in Ottawa, Canada, eventually finishing his tour in a wheelchair. In November 2003, during a performance at London’s Wembley Arena, Meat Loaf collapsed of what was later diagnosed as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. In 2016, he collapsed on stage in Canada due to severe dehydration, leaving him unable to perform.
Reflecting on his career in a 2015 interview with Billboard, Meat Loaf said: “I’ll never be happy, I’ll never be satisfied, until I’m dead. I told the band, ‘If I die on stage, leave me laying there, play ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’, then get the audience to sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’. And, if leaving me laying there is too morbid, remove me and then do those songs.'”
Meat Loaf is survived by his wife Deborah Gillespie and his daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday.