Tuesday, April 23, 2024

RIP: Meat Loaf Leaves Us Like a “Bat out of Hell” A Week After Ronnie Spector, a Year After Jim Steinman

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Meat Loaf has left the building. He was 74.

Back in 1977, Meat Loaf was at the center of the rock culture universe. Two things happened: “Bat out of Hell,” produced by Todd Rundgren, featuring Yankee catcher turned radio host Phil Rizzuto, burst onto the scene.

But at the same time, there was massive revival of midnight showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The movie had been out for some time, but caught on in this new setting. In New York, the 8th Street Theater, which is no more, went wild with long lines. In Boston, it was on Exeter Street. Fans were dressing up– now known as cosplay. They were throwing toast at the screen. It was like Halloween all the time.

And in the middle of this was Meat Loaf, who real name was Marvin Aday. (A few years later, the New York Times became a meme, long before memes. when they referred to him as “Mr. Loaf.” There was no internet, but you could hear people howling for eons.) That Meat Loaf had this enormous hit and was in this cult movie simultaneously, it was like a fire was lit, a combustible one. The two cultural landmarks fed off each other and blazed for three or four years. Meat Loaf was established forever.

Now Mr. Loaf has died a week after Ronnie Spector and a year after his collaborator, Jim Steinman. You know about the latter. The former has her place and vice versa in the Meat Loaf saga. Ronnie’s brilliant single with the E Street Band, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” was the first single released in ’77. Steve Popovich’s Cleveland International Records in ’77. Popovich started the label after leaving Columbia Records, where he’d been a famous promotion man. It was Little Steven van Zandt, of E Street, who turned him onto Meat Loaf. Popovich signed them up and overnight Cleveland International, distributed by Columbia Records, had one of the biggest hits in Columbia’s history.

There was a second wave of Meat Loaf in 1993, with the “Bat out of Hell” sequel, but that was small potatoes compared to the first time. (Although, I guess, small potatoes would be nice with Meat Loaf.) Aday wasn’t of particular interest as himself, but as Meat Loaf he’d made his mark with perfectly executed theatricality that owed as much to Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne as it did to grand opera. And of course, Phil Rizzuto, who was perplexed by the new popularity.

God speed, Meat Loaf. To this day if I hear one of those songs, I get a big smile and start singing along.

 Celine Dion had a hit with this Jim Steinman song, but this is the way it should be done;

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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