Meat Loaf, the hardworking singer and actor whose theatrical Bat Out of Hell is one of the best-selling albums ever and who played Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, has died. He was 74.
The Grammy winner born Marvin Lee Aday died Thursday night surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends, Meat Loaf’s longtime agent Michael Greene told Deadline on behalf of the family. A cause of death is not being released. According to TMZ, the singer died of Covid-related complications.
“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,” Meat Loaf’s family said in a statement. “From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”
Written by Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell is among the best-selling albums in history, racking up 14 million units sold in the U.S. alone. Worldwide sales estimates go as high as 30 million. Its U.S. singles “Two of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” peaked at No. 11 and No. 39, respectively, but both were certified platinum four decades later in 2018.
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“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” — a duet with Ellen Foley, who went on to star in Season 1 of Night Court — famously features longtime New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto “calling the action” as the teenage narrator makes a move on his girlfriend. Watch the video for the song below, with Karla DeVito lip-synching the “Stop right there!” role. She then went on tour with Meat Loaf to support the album, which was produced by Todd Rundgren.
Bat Out of Hell also was a smash overseas, spending more than 10 years on the UK album chart despite peaking at No. 9. It remains among the 20 best-sellers of all time there.
Meat Loaf and Steinman also collaborated on the 1993 album Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which has sold more than 5 million units in the U.S. alone. Its platinum lead single “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” spent five weeks at No. 1 in the U.S. and UK to become by far Meat Loaf’s biggest hit. Meat Loaf the Grammy for Best Rock Performance, Solo.
Steinman, who died last year, also teamed with Meat Loaf for 1981’s Dead Ringer and 2016’s Braver Than We Are.
Meat Loaf has sold more 100 million albums worldwide. His 1980s LPs Dead Ringer and Bad Attitude sold moderately stateside, but 1995’s Welcome to the Neighborhood made the Top 20 and went platinum. He taped an episode of VH1’s Storytellers that was released as an album in 1999.
Meat Loaf, who also sang lead on several tracks for Ted Nugent’s million-selling 1976 album Free-for-All, was known for his frenetic live shows. He’d pace the stage, shoot wild-eyed looks at the crowd and shout vocals while working himself into a sweaty mess. Fans ate it up.
But before Bat Out of Hell and the rest, there was The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Meat Loaf all but stole the 1975 film version of the stage musical as Eddie, a wild and wildly unlucky ex-delivery boy who belts out the hard-rocking “Hot Patootie” before meeting a difficult end. The movie, which also starred Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry, has become an all-time cult classic. Its soundtrack also hit the Top 50 and is certified gold. Meat Loaf also played the Eddie role onstage.
Born on September 27, 1947, in Dallas, he was a high school football player before relocating to Los Angeles, where he played in bands that opened for the likes of the Who, Janis Joplin, Van Morrison and the Grateful Dead. He moved to New York City in the late 1960s, where he began landing roles on the stage. He appeared in the Broadway musical Hair and would return to the big stage to play Eddie and Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Show in 1975 and had a short run in Rockabye Hamlet the following year.
Meat Loaf was the musical guest on a 1978 episode of Saturday Night Live, on which he played Bat Out of Hell’s “All Revved Up and No Place to Go” and “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” He often host the turn-of-the-century music series The List on VH1.
His many other screen credits include the features Fight Club, Roadie, Motorama, Crazy in Alabama, Stage Fright, Spice World, Leap of Faith and Americathon. He also appeared in several episodes of the 2017-18 series Ghost Wars.
Last year, Meat Loaf sealed a deal to develop a relationship competition series based on “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” He was executive producer on the project and was set to appear as, per the logline, the ethereal figure behind the madness who would pull the strings in the show. Couples were to compete in a variety of comedic physical games designed to reveal how well they can work together and how much they really trust and believe in each other – all to a soundtrack of classic hits, performed live in studio by the original artists as well as new stars.
Here is Meat Loaf performing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”:
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