In the winter of 2014, an acne-ridden, slightly overweight girl was alone in her room, frantically playing air guitar to ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ by Meat Loaf. Until then, what I had seen of the world was filled with thin, pretty, sociable celebrities and it seemed like there was no way you’d succeed unless you looked like a Kardashian or a member of One Direction. All the popular kids looked like that. If you looked like me, you were picked last in PE, ate lunch alone, and wondered when you would be invited to a party. Such was life.
But then I found Meat Loaf. He was a chubby weirdo who claimed to be introverted and shy. But he was also a rock legend whose name would be remembered years after the height of his fame. He was like me, but he was somebody. People cared about what he had to offer. At 13 years old, I started to hope they would care about me.
36 years earlier, the rock opera Bat Out of Hell stormed through the world of rock ’n’ roll. Created as an alternative to punk rock, the album took the genre and re-dressed it as an explosion of gothic themes and musical theatre. It was one of many collaborations between Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman (who passed away in April 2021). The two had worked on it since 1973 and were rejected by several record labels before it was finally picked up by Epic Records. The record gained traction slowly, but once it took off it spent a total of 500 weeks in the UK charts and sold 43 million copies.
However, this rise to fame was not an easy hill to climb for the singer. After taking the album on tour, Meat Loaf fell off a stage in Canada and broke his leg and a subsequent nervous breakdown left the singer depressed and with a troublesome cocaine habit. Life seemed to get better by 1981, following recovery and a new album, Dead Ringer. But this new release brought conflict between Steinman and Loaf, which led to 45 lawsuits and the singer declaring bankruptcy. Steinman, feeling he had not received enough recognition for Meat Loaf’s fame, refused to collaborate for another 9 years. The stardom he had once enjoyed was now seemingly out of reach.
Meat Loaf and Steinman reconciled in the 1990s to produce Bat Out of Hell II, with the hit single I rocked out to so many years later. The album shot through the charts at a much quicker pace to its predecessor, even winning Meat Loaf a Grammy in 1994 for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
Back in 2014, I had no idea chubby losers like me could be somebodies. Meat Loaf changed that. I had no idea that people could fail and build themselves back up again. Meat Loaf changed that. I thought if you didn’t start off with success, you wouldn’t ever get it. Meat Loaf changed that.
Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, died on January 20th, 2022, due to COVID-19. He is survived by his wife, Deborah, daughter, Amanda, and stepdaughter, Pearl.