Michael Lee Aday (born Marvin Lee Aday; September 27, 1947), better known by his stage name Meat Loaf, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor.
His Bat Out of Hell trilogy of albums (consisting of Bat Out of Hell, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose) has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. Almost 40 years after its release, Bat Out of Hell still sells an estimated 200,000 copies annually and stayed on the charts for over nine years, making it one of the best selling albums in history.
After the commercial success of Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell and earning a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for the song "I'd Do Anything for Love", Meat Loaf experienced some initial difficulty establishing a steady career within the United States. However, he has retained iconic status and popularity in Europe, especially the United Kingdom, where he received the 1994 Brit Award for best-selling album and single, appeared in the 1997 film Spice World, and ranks 23rd for the number of weeks spent on the UK charts as of 2006. He ranked 96th on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock".
He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with worldwide sales of more than 80 million records. He has also appeared in over 50 movies and television shows, sometimes as himself or as characters resembling his stage person. His most notable roles include Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Robert "Bob" Paulson in Fight Club (1999), and "The Lizard" in The 51st State (2002). He has also appeared as a guest actor in television shows such as Monk, Glee, South Park, House, and Tales from the Crypt.
Marvin Lee Aday was born in Dallas, Texas, the only child of Wilma Artie (née Hukel), a school teacher and a member of the Vo-di-o-do Girls gospel quartet, and Orvis Wesley Aday, a police officer. His father was an alcoholic who would go on drinking binges for days at a time. Aday and his mother would drive around to all the bars in Dallas, looking for Orvis to take him home. As a result, Aday often stayed with his grandmother, Charlsee Norrod.
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 on November 22, 1963 to watch John F. Kennedy land. After watching him leave the airport, they went to Market Hall, which was on Kennedy's parade route. On the way, they heard that Kennedy 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, although they did not see the president taken out.
In 1965, he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, having already started his acting career via school productions such as Where's Charley? and The Music Man. After attending college at Lubbock Christian College, he transferred to North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas). After he received his inheritance from his mother's death, he rented an apartment in Dallas and isolated himself for three and a half months. Eventually, a friend found him. A short time later, Aday went to the airport and caught the next flight leaving. The plane took him to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, Aday formed his first band, "Meat Loaf Soul", after a nickname coined by his football coach due to his weight. During the recording of their first song, he hit a note so high that he managed to blow a fuse on the recording monitor. He was immediately offered three recording contracts, which he turned down. Meat Loaf Soul's first gig was in Huntington Beach at the Cave, opening for Van Morrison's band, Them. While performing their cover of the Howlin' Wolf song "Smokestack Lightning", the smoke machine they used made too much smoke and the club had to be cleared out. Later, the band was the opening act at Cal State Northridge for Renaissance, Taj Mahal and Janis Joplin. The band then underwent several changes of lead guitar, changing the name of the band each time. The new names included Popcorn Blizzard and 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". Then Meat Loaf joined the Los Angeles production of Hair. During an interview with New Zealand radio station ZM, Meat Loaf stated that the biggest life struggle he had to overcome was not being taken seriously in the music industry. He compared his treatment to that of a "circus clown".
Stoney & Meat Loaf
With the publicity generated from Hair, Meat Loaf was invited to record with Motown. They suggested he do a duet with Shaun "Stoney" Murphy, who had performed with him in Hair, to which he agreed. The Motown production team in charge of the album wrote and selected the songs while Meat Loaf and Stoney came in only to lay down their vocals. The album, titled Stoney & Meatloaf (sic, Meatloaf as one word), was completed in the summer of 1971 and released in September of that year. A single released in advance of the album, "What You See Is What You Get", reached number thirty-six on the Best Selling Soul Singles chart (the same chart is now titled Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs) and seventy-one on the 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, the Who, the Stooges, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and Rare Earth. Meat Loaf left soon after Motown replaced his and Stoney's vocals from the one song he liked, "Who Is the Leader of the People?" with new vocals by Edwin Starr. The album has been re-released after Meat Loaf's success, with Stoney's vocals removed. Meat Loaf's version of "Who Is the Leader of the People?" was released, but the album failed.
More Than You Deserve
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. During the audition Meat Loaf met his future collaborator Jim Steinman. He sang a former Stoney and Meatloaf favorite of his, "(I'd Love to Be) As Heavy as Jesus", and subsequently got the part of Rabbit, a maniac that blows up his fellow soldiers so they can "go home." Ron Silver and Fred Gwynne were also in the show. After it closed, he appeared in As You Like It with Raúl Juliá and Mary Beth Hurt.
He recorded a single of "More Than You Deserve", with a cover of "Presence of the Lord" as the B-side. He was only able to save three copies of it, because the record company did not allow its release. With those three copies he released many CDs featuring the two songs. He recorded it again (1981) in a slightly rougher voice. The original single came out on RSO SO-407 with some promotional copies bearing both songs, while some were double-A side copies with "More Than You Deserve" in mono and stereo on them.
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 was cast in The Rocky Horror Show, playing the parts of Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott. The success of the musical led to the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in which Meat Loaf played only Eddie, a decision he said made the movie not as good as the musical. About the same time, Meat Loaf and 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 Rockabye Hamlet, a Hamlet musical. It closed two weeks into its initial run. Meat Loaf later returned occasionally to perform "Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul" for a special Rocky Horror reunion or convention, and rarely at his own live shows (one performance of which was released in the 1996 Live Around the World CD set).
During his recording of the soundtrack for Rocky Horror, Meat Loaf recorded two more songs: "Stand by Me" (a Ben E. King cover), and "Clap Your Hands". They remained unreleased until 1984, when they appeared as B-sides to the "Nowhere Fast" single.
In 1976, Meat Loaf recorded lead vocals for Ted Nugent's album Free-for-All when regular Nugent lead vocalist Derek St. Holmes temporarily quit the band. Meat Loaf sang lead on five of the album's nine tracks. As on the "Stoney & Meatloaf" album, he was credited as Meatloaf (one word) on the "Free-for-All" liner notes.
Bat Out of Hell
Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman started Bat Out of Hell in 1972, but did not get serious about it until the end of 1974. Meat Loaf decided to leave theatre, and concentrate exclusively on music. Then, the National Lampoon Show opened on Broadway, and it needed an understudy for John Belushi, a close friend of Meat Loaf since 1972. It was at the Lampoon Show that Meat Loaf met Ellen Foley, the co-star who sang "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" with him on the album Bat Out of Hell. Karla Devito took that part on the video.
After the Lampoon show ended, Meat Loaf and Steinman spent time seeking a record deal. Their approaches were rejected by each record company, because their songs did not fit any specific recognized music industry style. Finally, they performed the songs for Todd Rundgren, who decided to produce the album, as well as play lead guitar on it (other members of Rundgren's band Utopia also lent their musical talents). They then shopped the record around, but still had no takers until Cleveland International Records decided to take a chance. In October 1977, Bat Out of Hell was finally released.
Meat Loaf and Steinman formed the band The Neverland Express to tour in support of Bat Out of Hell. Their first gig was opening for Cheap Trick in Chicago. He gained national exposure as musical guest on Saturday Night Live on March 25, 1978. Guest host Christopher Lee introduced him by saying, "And now ladies and gentlemen I would like you to meet Loaf. (pauses, looks dumbfounded) I beg your pardon, what? (he listens to the director's aside) Oh! Why...why I'm sorry, yes, of course...ah... Ladies and gentlemen, Meat Loaf!"
Bat Out of Hell has sold an estimated 43 million copies globally (15 million of those in the United States), making it one of the highest selling albums of all time. In the United Kingdom, alone, its 2.1 million sales put it in 38th place. Despite peaking at No. 9 and spending only two weeks in the top ten in 1981, it has now clocked up 485 weeks on the UK Albums Chart (May 2015), a figure bettered only by Rumours by Fleetwood Mac—487 weeks. In Australia, it knocked the Bee Gees off the number No. 1 spot and went on to become the biggest-selling Australian album of all time for several years. It is now second on the list. Bat Out of Hell is also one of only two albums that has never exited the Top 200 in the UK charts; this makes it the longest stay in any music chart in the world, although the published chart contains just 75 positions.
In 1976, Meat Loaf appeared in the short-lived Broadway production of the rock musical Rockabye Hamlet.
Jim Steinman started to work on Bad for Good, the album that was supposed to be the follow-up to 1977's Bat out of Hell, in 1979. During that time, a combination of touring, drugs and exhaustion had caused Meat Loaf to lose his voice. Without a singer, and pressured by the record company, Steinman decided that he should sing on Bad for Good himself, and write a new album for Meat Loaf; the result was Dead Ringer, which was later released in 1981, after the release of Steinman's Bad for Good.
After playing the role of Travis Redfish in the movie Roadie, Meat Loaf's singing voice returned, and he started to work on his new album in 1980. Steinman had written five new songs which, in addition to the track "More Than You Deserve" (sung by Meat Loaf in the stage musical of the same name) and a reworked monologue, formed the album Dead Ringer, which was produced by Meat Loaf and Stephan Galfas, with backing tracks produced by Todd Rundgren, Jimmy Iovine, and Steinman. (In 1976, Meat Loaf appeared on the track "Keeper Keep Us", from the Intergalactic Touring Band's self-titled album, produced by Galfas.) The song "Dead Ringer for Love" was the pinnacle of the album, and launched Meat Loaf to even greater success after it reached No. 5 in the United Kingdom and stayed in the charts for a surprising 19 weeks. Cher provided the lead female vocals in the song.
A comedy/documentary movie was filmed to accompany the release of "Dead Ringer", written and produced by Meat Loaf's managers David Sonenberg and Al Dellentash. It featured Meat Loaf playing two roles: himself, and a Meat Loaf fan, 'Marvin'. Sonenberg persuaded CBS to advance money for the making of the movie, which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival and won some favorable reviews.
The album reached No. 1 in the United Kingdom, and three singles were released from the album: "Dead Ringer for Love" (with Cher), "I'm Gonna Love Her for Both of Us", and "Read 'Em and Weep".
Stoney & Meatloaf (1971)
Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Dead Ringer (1981)
Bad Attitude (1984)
Blind Before I Stop (1986)
Welcome to the Neighbourhood (1995)
Couldn't Have Said It Better (2003)
Hang Cool Teddy Bear (2010)
Hell in a Handbasket (2011)
Braver Than We Are (2016)