I woke up Friday morning to the sad news that one of the artists of my youth had died the night before. Michael Lee Aday, better known by most as Meat Loaf, died at the age of 74 surrounded by his wife and daughters. My first exposure, like many of us, was to his Bat Out Of Hell album but that was not his first and was not going to be his last in his lifetime.
Even though Meat Loaf was 74, he had no plans of slowing down. He had just announced in November that he and his band were returning to the studio this month to start recording seven new songs for an upcoming album. Tragically this could be a case that we will never hear what was to come. Fortunately though he gave us many years of his talent before this death.
Meat Loaf started his first band, Meat Loaf Soul, in Los Angeles. His talent was noticed immediately and he was offered three different recording contracts which he turned down. The first gig for his band was at the Cave in Huntingdon Beach in 1968. He was the opener for Van Morrison’s band Them and Question Mark and the Mysterians. The band had several changes of their lead guitarists and for some reason changed their name each time to names like Popcorn Blizzard and Floating Circus. They continued to open for some pretty big names like the Fugs, the Who, the Stooges and the Grateful Dead. This was just the start of what was going to be a successful career.
I was in the army when I first heard Meat Loaf. As I mentioned, songs like Paradise By The Dashboard Light and Bat Out of Hell were two of the hits off that album. Even though the album was released in 1977, it had been in the works since 1972. Then as funny as it sounds now, he could not find a record company that thought the album was worth picking up. The reason given was that the style of the album did not fit a recognized music industry style. Todd Rundgren eventually heard the album and not only decided to produce it, but also played lead guitar on it. I am sure the record companies that rejected him have kicked themselves many times as the album has sold over 43 million copies and continues to sell thousands of copies a year even today. Meat Loaf’s talent did not stop there.
In addition to being a successful singer, Meat Loaf was also an actor. Unbeknownst to me, he had appeared in over 50 TV shows and movies. I am sure that most Meat Loaf fans know he had the role of Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a movie that makes the big screen in some places at least once a year. He also will be remembered by some for his character Bob Paulson in Fight Club. In addition to his TV and big screen roles he had parts in various musicals throughout his career. On a personal note, like me you have wondered where the stage name Meat Loaf originated.
There are a couple things I have heard. Meat Loaf said in an interview that when he was born he was “bright red and stayed that way for days”. He said his father said he looked like “nine pounds of ground chuck”. His father supposedly convinced the hospital staff to put the name “Meat” on his crib. The other thing I read is that he played football in high school and had the nickname M.L. I am not sure what that stood for. But when he put on some extra weight, his nickname became Meatloaf (with no space). There is so much more to this music legends career and life that I discovered when writing this article. But I will let you discover more about him on your own.
I am glad that I have been a fan of this music legend for 2/3 of my life. I will always have happy memories when I hear songs from the Bat Out of Hell album along with his other music. Thank you Meat Loaf for sharing your talents with your fans. I for one can say that you will be missed.
Until next week, if you’re a music lover, you can hear, see or learn about something new every day on my Facebook group, Spotify playlist or YouTube playlist. And as always, feel free to reach out and let me know about your favorite new musical discovery.