Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday September 27, 1947 in Dallas, Texas) is an American actor and rock and roll performer who came to fame with his album Bat Out of Hell and for his movie performances such as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. All round he has had a very successful music career spawning some of the greatest selling albums of all time and breaking various records. He was never really able get a steady career going in the US apart from when he released the record shattering albums Bat Out Of Hell and Bat Out Of Hell II. Other than this he is relatively unknown. However, he is considered a legend in the UK where he is ranked at number 23 in the whole country for the amount of weeks he stayed in the charts overall. His overall success in Europe and Australia has been phenomenal and he is considered one of the top artists of all time. He ranks at Number 96 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock,
Meat Loaf was the first child of Orvis Wesley Aday, a policeman, and Wilma Artie Hukel, a school teacher and a member of the Vo-di-o-do Girls gospel quartet. Orvis was an alcoholic who would go on drinking binges for days at a time. Meat Loaf and his mother would drive around to all the bars in Dallas, looking for Orvis to take him home. Because of this, Meat Loaf often stayed with his grandmother, Charlsee Norrod.
He is a rare example of a person who has been claiming for ages that he is four years older than he really is.
Although there have been various explanations for his stage name, according to his official website, his name started when his father called him "Meat" as a two-year-old. His schoolmates would later turn it into Meat Loaf as it has the same initials as his real name, M.L. In high school, he was on the football team until his senior year when his coach made him decide between being in the school play, "Plain and Fancy" and being on the team. Meat Loaf chose the school play.
Meat Loaf relates a story in his autobiography, To Hell and Back, about how he, a friend and his friend's father, drove out to Love Field to watch John F. Kennedy land. After watching him leave the airport, they decided to head to Market Hall which was on Kennedy's parade route. On the way they heard that he had been shot so they headed to Parkland Hospital where they saw Jackie Kennedy get out of the car and Governor John Connally get pulled out, but they never saw Kennedy taken out.
After attending college at Lubbock Christian College, Meat Loaf transferred to North Texas State University. While there he was called in for an Army physical which he tried to fail by gaining sixty-eight pounds in four and a half weeks. They determined that he was fit despite being color blind, having a trick shoulder and being very concussion prone (he's had seventeen of them). When his draft notice arrived two years later, he ignored it. In 1967, after seeing his mother wasting away in a hospital bed, Meat Loaf left Texas and moved to Los Angeles, where he became a bouncer at a teenage nightclub.
In his autobiography, Meat Loaf claims that shortly after his mother died, his father, in a drunken rage, tried to kill him with a knife, and that he barely managed to escape after they had a huge knock down, drag out fight. After Meat Loaf got his inheritance from his mother's death, he rented an apartment in Dallas, bought some food and stayed there for three and a half months, never leaving. Finally a friend found him and got him out of there. Eventually he bought a car with his inheritance and drove to California.
Early musical career
In Los Angeles, he formed his first band, Meat Loaf Soul. During the recording of their first song, Meat Loaf hit a big note and blew the board. It left quite an impression because he was offered three recording contracts on the spot. Unfortunately, he turned them all down. Meat Loaf Soul's first gig was in Huntington Beach at the Cave, opening up for Them, Van Morrison's band. During their singing of cover of the Yardbirds' "Smokestack Lightning", the smoke machine they used made too much smoke and the club had to be cleared out. Then they were the opening act at Cal State Northridge for Renaissance, Taj Mahal and Janis Joplin. The band then underwent several changes at lead guitar, changing the name of the band each time - Popcorn Blizard, Floating Circus. As Floating Circus, they opened for The Who, The Fugs, The Stooges, MC5, Grateful Dead and The Grease Band. Their regional success led them to release a single, "Once Upon A Time" backed with "Hello".
After the break up of Floating Circus, Meat Loaf had several odd jobs, including being a body guard for Question Mark. Having no steady work, Meat Loaf decided to get a job as a parking lot attendant with a friend of his. A man pulled up in the parking lot that Meat Loaf thought might be the guy that was going to hire him. The man asked Meat Loaf what he did beside parking cars and Meat Loaf told him that he was a singer. The guy said that he should come in and audition for Hair. Not being prepared, Meat Loaf told the piano player to play the sixteen-bar blues in C. After singing the first sixteen-bars of "The World Is Alright, It's the People that Make It Bad", they asked him to stop and to come see the show that night because they wanted to hire him to sing "Aquarius", play General Ulysses S. Grant and the Young Recruit. When he went to the show that night, for some reason the sprinklers came on half way through and ended the show. Meat Loaf went on to do the show in Los Angeles and then for a six month run in Detroit, Michigan.
French picture sleeve of Stoney & Meatloaf's "What You See Is What You Get" Meat Loaf, because of the publicity generated from Hair was invited to record with Motown. They suggested that he do a duet with Stoney Murphy and he agreed. They were given songs written by Motown's production team in charge of the album and only came in to lay down their vocals. The album, titled Stoney & Meatloaf (Meatloaf being shown as one word), was completed in the summer of 1971 and released in September of that year. A single was released in advanced of the album titled What You See Is What You Get managed to get to number thirty six on the R&B charts and seventy-one on Billboard Hot 100 chart. To support their album, Meat Loaf and Stoney toured with Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers, opening up for Richie Havens, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and Rare Earth.
After the tour, Meat Loaf rejoined the cast of Hair, this time on Broadway. After he hired an agent, he auditioned for the Public Theater's production of More Than You Deserve. It was during the audition that Meat Loaf first met his future collaborator Jim Steinman. Meat Loaf got the part of Rabbit, a maniac that blows up his fellow soldiers so they can "go home". Also in the show were Ron Silver and Fred Gwynne. After it closed he appeared in "As You Like It" with Raul Julia and Mary Beth Hurt.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
During the winter of 1973, after returning from a short production of Rainbow in New York in Washington, D.C., Meat Loaf received a call asking him to be in The Rocky Horror Show where he played both the parts of Eddie and Dr. Scott. The success of the play led to the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show where Meat Loaf just played Eddie. About the same time, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman started work on Bat Out of Hell. Meat Loaf convinced Epic Records to shoot videos for four songs, "Bat Out of Hell", "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" and "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad". He then convinced Lou Adler, the producer of Rocky Horror, to run the "Paradise" video as a trailer to the movie. Meat Loaf's final show in New York was Gower Champion's Rock-a-bye Hamlet, a Hamlet musical. It closed two weeks into its initial run.
Bat Out of Hell
Bat Out of Hell jacket
Meat Loaf and Steinman started Bat Out of Hell in 1972, but didn't really get serious about it until the end of 1974. Meat Loaf decided that he wasn't going to do any more theater and concentrate only on the record. Then, the National Lampoon Show opened on Broadway and they needed an understudy for John Belushi, a close friend of Meat Loaf. He and Belushi had become friends in 1972 when they were doing Lemmings at the Village Gate. It was at the Lampoon Show that Meat Loaf met Ellen Foley who would end up singing "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" with him on the Bat Out of Hell album.
After the Lampoon show ended, Meat Loaf and Steinman concentrated on getting a record deal. They were rejected by every record company they approached. The record didn't fit into any of the moulds that record companies insisted that every album and artist should fit into. While doing this, Epic asked Meat Loaf to replace Ted Nugent's lead singer, Derek St. Holmes, on Nugent's album Free For All. Finally they performed the songs for Todd Rundgren who decided to produce the album. In addition to producing the album, Rundgren played lead guitar on the album. They then shopped the record around but still had no takers until Cleveland International Records decided to take a chance. On October 21, 1977, "Bat Out of Hell" was released. His first gig in support of the record was opening for Cheap Trick in Chicago, Illinois. The audience started out hostile, but by the end of the show he had mostly won them over. Their next stop came a couple of days after the release of the album in New Jersey. The show was a complete sell out and people were lined up to see it hours before it started. Things really started to take off after Meat Loaf appeared on Saturday Night Live as the Musical Guest on March 25, 1978. The huge success of the album caused a rift to open up between Meat Loaf and Steinman. Steinman started to resent the attention that Meat Loaf was getting.
During a May show in Ottawa, Meat Loaf fell off the stage and broke his leg. The injury caused the cancelation of the rest of the tour. To deal with all of the pressure, he started to do cocaine. It all culminated with a nervous breakdown where he threatened to commit suicide by jumping off the ledge of a building in New York. Then in December of 1978, he went to Woodstock to work on Bad for Good with Steinman. It was at the Bearsville studio that Meat Loaf met his future wife, Leslie Edmonds. They met and were married within a month. Leslie had a daughter from a previous marriage, Pearl, who has followed in her step-father's footsteps and become a singer. In the middle of recording his second album, Meat Loaf lost the ability to sing. His doctors said that physically everything was fine and that his problem was mental. Steinman decided to keep going with Bad for Good without Meat Loaf.
Just as it looked like life was going down the tubes for Meat Loaf, he managed to get the part of Travis Redfish in Roadie. The movie had cameos by Debbie Harry, Roy Orbison and Hank Williams, Jr., but still was a box office flop. To keep his sanity, Meat Loaf played a tremendous amount of softball. Over time, Meat Loaf got his singing voice back by getting off drugs and playing softball.
All of the struggles that Meat Loaf had faced during the making of Bat out of Hell had paid off in the end because it has now sold over 35,000,000 copies worldwide, making it one of the biggest sellers of all time. It has also stayed in the UK charts for a record smashing 474 weeks. The album may not have reached number #1 in the UK but the fact it is still selling around 200,000 a year shows it has tremendous staying power.
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