Meat Loaf, the heavyweight rock superstar loved by millions for his Bat Out of Hell album and for such theatrical, dark-hearted anthems as “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” has died. He was 74.
The singer born Marvin Lee Aday died Thursday (Jan. 20), according to a family statement provided by his longtime agent Michael Greene.
“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight,” the statement said. “We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man… From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”
No cause or other details were given, but Aday had numerous health scares over the years.
Bat Out of Hell, his mega-selling collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman and producer Todd Rundgren, came out in 1977 and made him one of the most recognizable performers in rock. Fans fell hard for the roaring vocals of the long-haired, 250-plus pound singer and for the comic non-romance of the title track, “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” an operatic cautionary tale about going all the way. “Paradise” was a duet with Ellen Foley that featured play by play from New York Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, who alleged — to much skepticism — that he was unaware of any alternate meanings to reaching third base and heading for home.
After a slow start and mixed reviews, Bat Out of Hell became one of the top-selling albums in history, with worldwide sales of more than 40 million copies.
Bat Out of Hell spent 82 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 14, and spawned three top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, with “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” going highest at No. 11. Meat Loaf scored another slew of hits when he reteamed with Steinman for the sequel, Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which topped the Billboard 200: that album’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” became his sole Hot 100 No. 1 for five weeks in 1993, also earning him a Grammy Award for best rock vocal performance, solo; the album also produced two more top 40 hits in “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” and “Objects In the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are.” The hot streak continued in 1995 with the No. 13-peaking “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth),” which would be his final appearance on the Hot 100.
Meat Loaf wasn’t a consistent hit maker, especially after falling out for years with Steinman. But he maintained close ties with his fans through his manic live shows, social media and his many television, radio and film appearances, including Fight Club and cameos on Glee and South Park.
Friends and fans reacted to the death on social media.
“I hope paradise is as you remember it from the dashboard light, Meat Loaf,” actor Stephen Fry said on Twitter.
Meat Loaf’s biggest musical success after Bat Out of Hell was Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, a 1993 reunion with Steinman that sold more than 15 million copies and featured the Grammy-winning single “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”
Aday’s other albums included Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, Hell in a Handbasket and Braver Than We Are.
A native of Dallas, Aday was the son of a school teacher who raised him on her own after divorcing his alcoholic father, a police officer. Aday was singing and acting in high school (Mick Jagger was an early favorite, so was Ethel Merman) and attended Lubbock Christian College and what is now the University of North Texas. Among his more notable childhood memories: Seeing John F. Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, then learning the president had been assassinated and driving to Parkland Hospital and watching a bloodied Jackie Kennedy step out of a car.