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In between his gigs as a rock star, he’s hung out with Elvis Presley and US Presidents, picked up a hitchhiking Charles Manson (the notorious serial killer), and played parts in cult movies from The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Fight Club. The first two records from his Bat Out Of Hell series have received critical praise, dominated the charts and have sold over fifty million copies worldwide. Now the next chapter, aptly titled Bat Out Of Hell III ~ The Monster Is Loose, finally sees the light of day thirteen years since the last one, and it promises to be the biggest Meat Loaf release yet. On the eve of the new album’s release, we managed to score a transcript of a tęte-ŕ-tęte with the hardest working man in rock and roll to learn firsthand why it took him so long to come up with the goods.

Bat Out Of Hell
Meat Loaf's story is like Meat Loaf himself: larger than life. Born Marvin Lee Aday to a Dallas cop and a schoolteacher, he claims to have picked up his musical skills listening to The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones on the radio. While he was growing up, parents said he was too fat to play with their children, and his classmates picked on him, even ganging up to lock him in a box. Unflatteringly nicknamed Meat Loaf by his alcoholic father because of his massive bulk (the same father who would later try to kill him with a butcher knife), no one pegged that this fat misfit kid would one day become one of the world’s most biggest rock stars until he recorded the third best-selling rock album of all time.

The record ~ 1978’s Bat Out Of Hell ~ was pure melodrama: a teen rock opera which went from being rejected and laughed at by every music executive in the industry, to selling more than 30 million copies, launching Meat Loaf into international superstardom. "You have no clue,” he says about how it happened. “We were so happy to get a record deal that we wanted to sell 100,000 copies so we could make another record. It took about six months to start selling. Then it went real fast. At one point, July and August 1978, it was selling over 700,000 copies a week. They made me a platinum record on a Wednesday, and by Saturday night it had already gone double platinum."

His story would be incredible if it stopped right there. But that's just the beginning. In a swirl of alcohol, drugs, crooked managers, nervous breakdowns, the loss of his voice and more lawsuits than he could count, Meat Loaf soon lost it all. His record company had gone from allies to adversaries and suddenly he found himself being sued by them for tens of millions of dollars. "We got declared bankrupt not because we didn't pay our bills, but because we were sued for over 85 million dollars,” says Meat Loaf. “I lost all those lawsuits. We were destroyed. We lost everything. When Steinman sued me that was the last straw..."

At the end of it, he had no home, his relationship with best friend and Bat Out Of Hell collaborator Jim Steinman turned ugly, and finally his wife, having a nervous breakdown of her own, wanted a divorce. He was broke, without a record deal and on the verge of taking his own life. "I was totally disillusioned,” says Meat Loaf, “and people called me a one hit wonder. They didn't know anything about my life so screw them."

Two agonising years later, Meat Loaf finally cleaned up his act and found his voice again. After failing to gain a record deal in America, he put a new band together and went back out on the road. Eventually scoring a record deal, he released four albums in the eighties. All of them sold well in Europe and Asia, but failed to release in the US, as no music label would distribute them. It was a humbling experience for the man who was once America’s biggest rock and roll icon. "Ego wise, it’s worse than starting over,” says Meat Loaf, “because you've come from this enormous thing, and even in England we were coming from selling out arenas and Germany, to coming back to America and I got to play in clubs that hold four or five hundred people."

Bat Out Of Hell II: Back In Hell

The depths to which Meat Loaf had plunged were matched only by the height he soared back out of this terrible abyss. Throughout his career he had been getting bit parts in Hollywood movies and TV shows, and interest was renewed in him as an actor. But his moment was yet to come. Reuniting with Steinman after more than a decade, recording sessions got underway in 1991 for the sequel to their 1978 rock and roll masterpiece. Two years later, newly signed to MCA Records, Meatloaf staged one of the biggest ever comebacks in rock and roll history, as his Bat At Out Of Hell II: Back In Hell sequel topped the UK and US charts and sold nine million copies within two months.

In 1994, he finally got the recognition from his peers that was long overdue; winning a Grammy for best rock performance for the album’s the twelve minute long single I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That), coming full circle in his career. "I thought I would get an Oscar before ever winning a Grammy,” says Meat Loaf. “Too bad they proved me wrong. (Laughs) Success was sweeter the second time around. First time I didn’t like it; it was too much for me to deal with. The second time around I knew how to deal with it, so it was all right for me."

You can read the rest of our feature on Meatloaf in the November-December 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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