Meat Loaf

Meatloaf

“Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad”

You might not think that naming yourself after a rectangle of hamburger would be the wisest of career moves, but rock and roll is a funny business. Meat Loaf backed up his comical moniker with a set of vocal pipes that rivaled the best in the business, and songwriting skills that would make him one of the best-selling musical artists of all time.

Michael Lee Aday is his real name, and he was born in Dallas, Texas in 1947. There are lots of rumors and speculations for his stage name, but according to him, the name started when his father called him “Meat” as a two-year-old. Through high school, his friends extended the nickname to Meat Loaf and it stuck.

In 1967, Meat Loaf moved to Los Angeles, California, and formed his first band, Meat Loaf Soul. Their first gig was opening for Them, Van Morrison’s band, in Huntington Beach at the Cave. After a few name changes, they settled on Floating Circus, and started getting gigs around southern California, opening for Taj Mahal and Janis Joplin, The Who, The Stooges, MC5 and the Grateful Dead. Once the Floating Circus broke up, he picked up several odd jobs and eventually auditioned for the musical Hair. He went on to perform the show in Los Angeles and Detroit, Michigan.

Word spread quickly about his powerful vocal abilities and Meat Loaf was invited to a record with Motown Records, on a duet with Stoney Murphy. In 1971, the album was completed and released as Stoney & Meatloaf. The single went to #36 on the R&B charts, and the duo went on to open up for Richie Havens, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and Rare Earth.

Once the tour ended, Meat Loaf went on to perform in the Broadway production of Hair. After working in various musicals and plays, he got a call to play the part of Eddie and Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Show. The success of the play resulted in the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where Meat Loaf reprised the role of Eddie in what would eventually become an enormous cult classic.

In 1977, Meat Loaf released Bat Out of Hell, which was produced by Todd Rundgren. The producers shot four videos for the album using the singles “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.” The album became a hit, but not in the instant sort of way. It grew. So much so that Bat Out of Hell continues to sell around 200,000 copies a year, and to date has sold about 34 million copies worldwide.

In the middle of recording his second album, Bad for Good, Meat Loaf lost the ability to sing. The exact cause was unclear, and physically he was fine; doctors felt that the problem may have been psychological, with the strain of performing and touring causing the inability to sing. Over time, he got his singing voice back, and changed managers. In 1984, Meatloaf went to England to record Bad Attitude, which included a duet with Roger Daltrey. In 1986, he recorded Blind Before I Stop, which became a critical failure after the producers put a dance beat under every song.

Trying to get his career back off the ground, Meat Loaf began touring small venues, rebuilding a faithful following. He soon played to larger venues, and touring around the world. The success of his concerts spawned Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell which came out in 1993. It was a huge success and might be the greatest comeback in music history.

The album produced hits with “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” which reached #1 in 28 countries around the world, and earned Meat Loaf the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance. The album also found success for the singles, “Rock & Roll Dreams Come Through” and “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are.”

On the heels of that success, Meat Loaf released Welcome to the Neighborhood in 1995. It was a success and went platinum in the U.S. and in the U.K. and spawned the hits “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” and “Not a Dry Eye in the House.” In 2003, he released Couldn’t Have Said It Better, which became a minor hit worldwide.

The following year, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, was released. Sadly, there were no hits on the recording, but extensive touring still managed to to boost sales into gold territory. During a 2007 performance, Meatoaf announced to the crowd that they were witnessing his final performance.

As you might have guessed, it wasn’t. Two years later, he released Hang Cool Teddy Bear, an album based on a short story by Kilian Kerwin. The album and the tour that followed received rave reviews from fans and critics alike. Hell in a Handbasket followed in 2011, followed by more touring. As of this writing, he is finishing up an album set to be released in 2015.

And for all we know, he may release 20 more albums before truly calling it quits. If there is one thing we have learned over the years, it is not to underestimate this prolific singer/songwriter, a hard-working performer who did just fine for himself despite being named after a comfort food.

If you have remained a fan of Meatloaf over the decades, or if you simply have fond memories of Bat Out Of Hell as one of the soundtracks of your adolescence, we’d love to hear all of your thoughts in our comments section below.

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