NEW YORK (AP) â€” Meat Loaf, the heavyweight rock superstar loved by millions for his â€œBat Out of Hellâ€ album and for such theatrical, dark-hearted anthems as â€œParadise by the Dashboard Light,â€ â€œTwo Out of Three Ainâ€™t Bad,â€ and â€œIâ€™d Do Anything for Love (But I Wonâ€™t Do That),â€ has died.
The singer born Marvin Lee Aday died Thursday, according to a family statement posted on his official Facebook page.
â€œOur hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight,â€ the statement said. â€œWe 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 soulsâ€¦donâ€™t ever stop rocking!â€
No cause or other details were given, but Aday had numerous health scares over the years.
â€œBat Out of a Hell,â€ 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, â€œYou Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth,â€ â€œTwo Out of Three Ainâ€™t Badâ€ and â€œParadise By the Dashboard Light,â€ an operatic cautionary tale about going all the way. â€œParadiseâ€ was a duet with Ellen Foley that featured play by play from New York Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, who alleged â€” to much skepticism â€” that he was unaware of any alternate meanings to reaching third base and heading for home.
After a slow start and mixed reviews, â€œBat Out of a Hellâ€ became one of the top-selling albums in history, with worldwide sales of more than 40 million copies. Meat Loaf wasnâ€™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 â€œFight Clubâ€ and cameos on â€œGleeâ€ and â€œSouth Park.â€ His biggest musical success after â€œBat Out of Hellâ€ was â€œBat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell,â€ a 1993 reunion with Steinman that sold more than 15 million copies and featured the Grammy-winning single â€œIâ€™d Do Anything for Love (But I Wonâ€™t Do That).â€
Adayâ€™s other albums included â€œBat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose,â€ â€œHell in a Handbasketâ€ and â€œBraver Than We Are.â€
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.
He was still a teenager when his mother died and when he acquired the nickname Meat Loaf, the alleged origins of which range from his weight to a favorite recipe of his motherâ€™s. He left for Los Angeles after college and was soon fronting the band Meat Loaf Soul. For years, he alternated between music and the stage, recording briefly for Motown, opening for such acts as the Who and the Grateful Dead and appearing in the Broadway production of â€œHair.â€
By the mid-1970s, he was playing the lobotomized biker Eddie in the theater and film versions of â€œThe Rocky Horror Picture Show,â€ had served as an understudy for his friend John Belushi for the stage production of National Lampoon and had begun working with Steinman on â€œBat Out of Hell.â€ The dense, pounding production was openly influenced by Wagner, Phil Spector and Bruce Springsteen, whose bandmates Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg played on the record. Rundgren initially thought of the album as a parody of Springsteenâ€™s grandiose style.
Steinman had known Meat Loaf since the singer appeared in his 1973 musical â€œMore Than You Deserveâ€ and some of the songs on â€œBat Out of Hell,â€ including â€œAll Revved Up With No Place to Go,â€ were initially written for a planned stage show based on the story of Peter Pan. â€œBat Out of Hellâ€ took more than two years to find a taker as numerous record executives turned it down, including RCAâ€™s Clive Davis, who disparaged Steinmanâ€™s songs and acknowledged that he had misjudged the singer: â€œThe songs were coming over as very theatrical, and Meat Loaf, despite a powerful voice, just didnâ€™t look like a star,â€ Davis wrote in his memoir, â€œThe Soundtrack of My Life.â€
With the help of another Springsteen sideman, Steve Van Zandt, â€œBat Out of Hellâ€ was acquired by Cleveland International, a subsidiary of Epic Records. The album made little impact until months after its release, when a concert video of the title track was aired on the British program the Old Grey Whistle Test. In the U.S., his connection to â€œRocky Horrorâ€ helped when he convinced producer Lou Adler to use a video for â€œParadise By the Dashboard Lightâ€ as a trailer for the cult movie. But Meat Loaf was so little known at first that he began his â€œBat Out of Hellâ€ tour in Chicago as the opening act for Cheap Track, then one of the worldâ€™s hottest groups.
â€œI remember pulling up at the theater and it says, â€˜TONIGHT: CHEAP TRICK, WITH MEAT LOAF.â€™ And I said to myself, â€˜These people think weâ€™re serving dinner,â€™â€ Meat Loaf explained in 2013 on the syndicated radio show â€œIn the Studio.â€
â€œAnd we walk out on stage and these people were such Cheap Trick fans they booed us from the start. They were getting up and giving us the finger. The first six rows stood up and screamed. … When we finished, most of the boos had stopped and we were almost getting applause.â€
He is survived by Deborah Gillespie, his wife since 2007, and by daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday.