From the early days of his musical-theater career to his most recent live performances, Meat Loaf put on one hell of a show.
His death at age 74 in January 2022 arrived as a surprise to many; Meat Loaf confidently claimed he “wasn’t done” the previous fall, and had plans for new music, a TV show and maybe more tour dates, saying that his voice was in “incredible shape.”
“From how I grew up, that’s where I learned to be tough and to never stop,” Meat Loaf told Rolling Stone in 2018. “I mean, I’m tough as nails. Once I was hit in the head with a pool cue and just turned to the guy and said, ‘You just made a big mistake.’ Got hit in the head with a whiskey bottle. Had my head slammed into a locker. I’ve had 18 concussions. And nothing, nothing has ever put me down.”
The below list of Our 13 Favorite Meat Loaf Stories includes some of the singer’s best musical moments, noteworthy film appearances and how he wound up with that famous name.
Marvin to Meat Loaf to Michael
Born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, the nickname “Meat” was bestowed on him “on the fourth day of me being alive,” Meat Loaf told Rolling Stone. His father, a police officer, had allegedly taken one look at his son and said: “He looks like meat.” Then, as a child, he was persistently bullied for his weight, and he frequently wore pleated pants to school because, as he recalled in 2017, he couldn’t fit into jeans. Adding insult to injury, an early TV ad for Levi’s jeans noted that “Poor fat Marvin can’t wear Levi’s.” The kids quit calling him Marvin, and the nickname Meat Loaf had long since stuck, but he still went before a judge in 1984 to legally change his name to Michael.
“Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul”: Meat Loaf in The Rocky Horror Show
In 1973, Meat Loaf was cast in the Roxy Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show, playing the parts of motorcycle-riding Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott. Even before its adaptation into a movie, the show was wildly successful, drawing stars like Carole King, who saw it multiple times. “At the end, she started to dress like Magenta,” Meat Loaf later said. Keith Moon was another regular. “If Keith Moon was in the house that particular night,” Meat Loaf said, “there was nine people in the cast — there would be nine bottles of champagne lined up across the front of the stage. And we’d go, ‘Oh! Keith Moon’s here!'” One of his most memorable encounters was with the artist his Eddie character was based on: Elvis Presley. “He came to see Rocky Horror, and everyone else who had played Eddie over in England had tried to do an Elvis impersonation,” Meat Loaf told Fuse. “That’s what they said to me when we started doing it out in L.A., but I looked at them and go, ‘Why would you want an Elvis impersonation? Why wouldn’t you want Eddie to be his own human being?’ They go, ‘Well, OK,’ and that’s what Elvis talked to me about. He goes, ‘Well, I hear everyone wants to do an Elvis impersonation [for Eddie], but you didn’t.’ The one thing I did say to him was, ‘No, because there’s only one you and only one me.’ That’s all I said to him.”
Meeting Jim Steinman
Meat Loaf first met songwriter Jim Steinman at the Public Theater in New York when auditioning for Steinman’s musical More Than You Deserve. Meat Loaf got the job, and they danced around the idea of collaborating. “People kept saying, ‘Listen, this guy Steinman, you can’t be with him. You’re too good,'” Meat Loaf told Rolling Stone in 2021. “I went, ‘You people have no idea. You’re in the music business, and you’re telling me that? You people don’t know what you’re talking about. This guy is an absolute genius. And me and him together, we’re an unstoppable force.'” Steinman worked with Meat Loaf on Bat Out of Hell, as well as several other albums, and maintained a friendship that lasted until Steinman’s death in April 2021. “After he died, his nurse, Mary Beth, left me a message saying how much he loved me,” Meat Loaf remembered. “She said I was the one person he needed more than anyone else in his life. I don’t want to die, but I may die this year because of Jim. I’m always with him, and he’s right here with me now. I’ve always been with Jim and Jim has always been with me.”
The Ted Nugent Album That’s Mostly Meat Loaf
A year before Bat Out of Hell came out, Ted Nugent‘s rhythm guitarist and singer, Derek St. Holmes, quit the band in the middle of recording the 1976 LP Free-for-All. Producer Tom Werman brought in Meat Loaf, paying him just $1,000 to sing lead on several songs. The LP performed well, reaching No. 24 on the Billboard 200 and becoming Nugent’s first record to go platinum. “Rest in peace my soul-brother soul music blood brother!” Nugent wrote on Facebook following the news of Meat Loaf’s death. “A great man great American rock-solid in the asset column of the American dream! The wonderful Meat Loaf force of nature will be with us forever.”
He Once Served as an Understudy for John Belushi
You wouldn’t know it now, but there was a time when Bat Out of Hell, which was produced by Todd Rundgren, was difficult to sell. That all changed thanks to Meat Loaf’s friendship with John Belushi; Meat Load served as an understudy on a production of National Lampoon‘s radio show. Following the album’s release, Belushi and Gilda Radner insisted to non-fan Lorne Michaels that Meat Loaf should appear on Saturday Night Live. After seeing the show and hearing the lyrics to “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” —“You’ll never find your gold on a sandy beach” —a radio programmer in Buffalo named Sandy Beach decided to put the song in rotation. “It became No. 1 in Buffalo in about four seconds,” Meat Loaf told Classic Rock Revisited. “Before Saturday Night Live and Buffalo, we had sold no records. This was the end of May, and by the beginning of July, we were platinum. By the end of July, we were double platinum and were selling over 700,000 copies a week.”
Just What Exactly Won’t Meat Loaf Do for Love?
Meat Loaf’s 1993 comeback hit “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” has confused many fans over the years. Listening passively, you may not pick up on just what precisely he won’t do for love, which, Meat Loaf recalled in 2014, was exactly what Steinman was worried about. “When we were recording it, Jim brings up the thing – he says, ‘People aren’t gonna know what that is.’ I said, ‘Of course they are. How can they not know?’ He goes, ‘They’re not gonna.'” The answer was in the lyrics all along. “So what is ‘that’? “It’s the line before every chorus,” he explained. “There’s nine of them, I think. The problem lies because Jimmy likes to write, so you forget what the line was before you get to ‘I won’t do that.'”
His Name Is Robert Paulson
In 1999, Meat Loaf portrayed Bob Paulson, a former bodybuilder who battles testicular cancer as a result of past reliance on steroids, in the movie Fight Club. The suit he wore for the role, he said, weighed 44 pounds. “The breasts were 28 pounds,” he said on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2013. “Ever since then, I see women with large breasts … and I go, ‘Oh, God, their neck’s gotta be killing them.'”
That Time Meat Loaf Rescued a Puppy
Back in 2015, a new, literal road dog joined the Meat Loaf team. A few crew members spotted a puppy being abandoned in a dumpster near where the band was rehearsing for a show in New Mexico. After rescuing her and taking her to the vet for a checkup, one of the crew members decided to keep the canine, naming her Ms. Karma and becoming “a part of the extended Meat Loaf family forever!”
Meat Loaf: Rock Star, Softball Coach
In 1991, Meat Loaf offered to coach the JV softball team at his son’s high school, earning himself the title “Coach Meat.” Whether or not Meat Loaf actually knew much about the ins and outs of the game didn’t matter, because he made up for it in team spirit, according to writer Jen Carlson, who was a freshman on the team. He even taught them a new rallying chant: “What do we wanna do? Kill! What do we need to do? Kill! What are we gonna do? Kill! What do big dogs do? Kill!” Meat Loaf kept his rock star persona out of the picture – except for one time on a bus after the team’s first win, when he began singing a song the public would not hear for another two years, “I Will Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”
Hold the Meat
From 1981 to 1992, Meat Loaf stood in direct contrast to his name and lived as a vegetarian, which, according to the singer, caused some controversy. “I was a vegetarian for 10 years,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2003. “There’ve been vegetarians who wouldn’t speak to me because of my name. I was sitting with Jon Bon Jovi at one of those awards things, and I say, ‘Oh, man, I love k.d. lang. I’d really like to meet her.’ They went to find out if it was OK, and she goes, ‘No. His name is Meat Loaf.’ I stopped being a k.d. lang fan after that.”
When Meat Loaf Encouraged Donald Trump to Run for President
Five years before Donald Trump became president, Meat Loaf publicly supported the idea. During a 2011 episode of Trump’s reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice, Trump half-jokingly said that “everyone” was saying he should run for office and asked Meat Loaf specifically for his opinion. “Absolutely!” the singer said “I would vote for you. In fact, I’ll help you with your campaign.” Trump offered condolences following Meat Loaf’s death: “He was smart, talented, open and warm. His success was enormous — we all loved him.”
Meat Loaf’s Stepdaughter Married Scott Ian of Anthrax
For Scott Ian, rhythm guitarist and cofounder of Anthrax, Meat Loaf is family. He married Meat Loaf’s stepdaughter, Pearl Aday, in 2011, but he remains a giddy fan at heart. “There’s still that part of me, there’s still that 13-year-old kid sometimes, you know, I can’t help it,” he said in a 2014 WAMC Roundtable interview. “It was such a big thing in my life, at that point in time. … It’s just trippy for me, that’s the only way I can put it. Sometimes it’s surreal that you’re sitting, watching a football game with Meat Loaf.”
Stardom Gave Him a ‘Nervous Breakdown’
Despite his grandiose persona, fame never really sat well with Meat Loaf. “I don’t really relate to myself in any form or fashion as any kind of star,” he said in 2011. “And that’s what I had a nervous breakdown about because they kept putting out ‘new star,’ and I kept saying to the Epic [Records] people: Do not put the word ‘star’ in an advertisement, put ‘artist,’ put ‘performer,’ put anything but ‘star,’ because that’s not what I’m about.”
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