Early life and showbiz career
Meat Loaf is Marvin Lee Aday in real life. He was born on September 27, 1947 in Dallas, Texas to a family of gospel singers. Even as a child he already found his acting instinct, taking part in various school productions.
Aday eventually moved to Los Angeles, California in 1967 to start his own musical and acting career. He formed his first bands Meat Loaf Soul, Popcorn Blizzard and Floating Circus. Aday’s acts used to open for many high-profile artists such The Who, Janis Joplin, The Stooges, and The Grateful Dead, among others.
Aday, who had taken the name Meat Loaf, won a role for the West Coast production of the musical play Hair. It is in that production where he would meet cast mate Shaun Murphy, also known as Stoney. Together the two men recorded what would be Meat Loaf’s first full-length record Stoney & Meatloaf, released on Motown’s subsidiary imprint Rare Earth, in 1971.
Meat Loaf would meet his future friend and artistic partner Jim Steinman, a classically trained pianist who wrote the musical More Than You Deserve in which Meat Loaf also acted. The two men re-teamed for the National Lampoon tour.
Breakthrough mainstream success
Steinman wrote sci-fi musical update of “Peter Pan” and titled it Never Land. Some of the songs from the play would eventually land on Meat Loaf’s sophomore album Bat out Of Hell, a type of rock-opera. The LP was produced by Todd Rundgren, and it was Meat Loaf’s first major-label release (on Epic label and its subsidiary Cleveland International). Bat out Of Hell spawned two Top 40 singles “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” (#11) and “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” (#39).
Bat Out of Hell sold over fourteen million copies in the US alone, but in Australia the album was certified a staggering 24 times platinum (in their standards, anyway). It also sold millions of copies in the UK and Canada. Needless to say, Bat Out of Hell made the heavyset Meat Loaf a big star (pardon the pun).
Steinman was writing songs, intending them to be included in the sequel to Bat Out of Hell, which was Bad For Good. But because Meat Loaf was starting to lose his voice due to exhaustion from incessant touring and his vices, he couldn’t sing for the album Steinman was working on. Instead, in 1981, Steinman released Bad for Goodas his own debut album, in which of course he sang vocals as well. He was also writing other songs for Meat Loaf’s next album Dead Ringer which came out after the release of Bad for Good.
Dead Ringer produced the UK Top 10 hit “Dead Ringer for Love” which featured Cher. The album likewise became a hit there as well, topping the UK album chart in 1981.
Meat Loaf’s career struggles and eventual revival
There, a growing dispute existed between Meat Loaf of Steinman which resulted into lawsuits against each other (Steinman would sue Epic as well). Meat Loaf was still contractually obliged to record another album, but since Steinman grew distant from him, he was forced to find other songwriters as much as he could. The result wasMidnight of the Lost And Found which was released in 1983. It flopped, as did the follow-ups Bad Attitude (1984) and Blind Before I Stop (1986). These losses had rendered Meat Loaf bankrupt.
Meat Loaf rehabilitated to fully regain his voice. He had to start from scratch again first by playing at small clubs and venues, and he even tried doing stand-up comedy. Gradually, he began to win new fans and re-embraced his old ones. Eventually his audience grew and Meat Loaf stepped into arenas again, performing for thousands of paying fans. His European tours in particular were an immense success.
He and Steinman reunited and began to work on a new project which was to be Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell in 1993. The album’s leadoff single “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” was the culmination of Meat Loaf’s commercial renaissance. The single reached #1 on many known countries — US, UK, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland in particular — and put Meat Loaf back on the block once more.
Meat Loaf followed Bat Out of Hell II with 1995’s Welcome To The Neighborhood and a live compilation album Live Around The World was released the following year.
Into the new millennium, Meat Loaf released Couldn’ Have Said It Better in 2003, and in 2006 he released Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, while he and Steinman were still settling legal disputes on using the phrase “bat out of hell” which Steinman had registered as a trademark over a decade ago. The two parties reached into an amicable agreement.
Bat Out of Hell continued to feature songs by Steinman, per court order. The album became a smash hit in the UK, where it went platinum. In 2010 and 2011, Meat Loaf released Hang Cool Teddy Bear and Hell In A Basket, respectively.