TRIBUTE | Meat Loaf: the 'Bat Out of Hell'

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Meat Loaf.
Meat Loaf.
Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images
  • Meat Loaf, whose real name is Marvin Lee Aday, has died at the age of 74.
  • The hard-living and hard-rocking singer was died Thursday night with his wife, Deborah, by his side.
  • After year's in the music industray, Meat Loaf teamed up with Jim Steinman, and not long after Bat Out of Hell was finally born in 1977, going on to sell 43 million copies worldwide.

Hard-living and hard-rocking, the US singer known as Meat Loaf whose death was announced on Friday, took music into wild and operatic places to become one of the biggest-selling artists of all time.

Born Marvin Lee Aday on 27 September 1947, the early years in Texas were rough.

"I've forgiven my father for trying to kill me with a butcher's knife," he once told The Telegraph.

But the bullying at school over his weight - the nickname Meat Loaf came early - was followed by the devastating loss of his mother to cancer while he was still a teenager.

He told Classic Rock magazine that he grabbed her body at the funeral, screaming: "You can't have her!"

Not long after he was on his way to New York, looking for ways to channel the angst and histrionics into performance.

There, he teamed up with musician and playwright Jim Steinman who provided the wild, theatrical backing music to accompany Meat Loaf's bellowing voice.

It took years to convince music industry professionals, until they scored a meeting with legendary producer Todd Rundgren, who found their extended motorcycle rock operas hilarious.

He teamed them with musicians from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, and Bat Out of Hell was finally born in 1977, going on to sell 43 million copies worldwide.

Some of the stories have a ring of performance about them, not least the claim that a shot-put blow to the head at school instantly improved his singing.

But the energy and passion on stage were undeniable.

'Anything for Love'

"There were fights, mutinies, drugs and over-indulgence at every stop," wrote Louder Sound of their first major tour.

"Meat pushed himself so hard physically every night that he required oxygen to revive him."

There were broken bones, piles of cocaine and nervous breakdowns - and that was only the first album.

"He's a tortured guy," Karla Devito, his backing singer, told Louder Sound in 2016. "There's no doubt about that."

More albums followed, still generating huge sales, particularly in Britain.

His biggest success came in 1993 with the single I'd Do Anything for Love which topped the charts in 28 countries and won him a Grammy Award.

Meat Loaf had started off seeking acting work - winning parts in Hair and the original cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its film adaptation.

He would often dip back into acting, most memorably a cameo as Bob, a man with huge breasts, in Fight Club.

In 2016, he released a new album - his first since 2011 - and returned to a busy schedule after a two-year gap in touring, a string of health scares and speculation he would retire.

The singer had collapsed onstage at least three times since 2003, including once in Canada in 2016 after suffering from dehydration while singing I'd Do Anything For Love.

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