A tribute from our CEO, Andy Grays who was lucky enough to meet Meat Loaf in 1987.
‘Bombastic’, ‘overwrought’, ‘like Springsteen on acid’, these are just some of the terms that have been applied to the late great Meat Loaf who has sadly passed away at the age of 74. Michael Lee Aday took the nickname Meat Loaf from his football coach due to his size. Like many artists in the late 60’s and early 70’s he regularly gigged and even appeared in the musical ‘Hair’. It was his brief appearance in the cult classic The Rocky Horror Show playing Eddie that bought him to universal attention.
The crucial artistic relationship in his career was with songwriter Jim Steinman. There’s no doubt that the eccentric genius that was Jim would have preferred to have performed his own songs, he did release a solo album, but in Meat Loaf he found the voice and personality which would help craft the forthcoming Bat Out of Hell album. It’s release and Meat’s subsequent live performance were a phenomena, especially at a time in the UK when punk music was elbowing out the more traditional heavy rock. This album had it all, blaring guitars, pummelling drums and songs so emotionally wrought that they threw you around and laid bear your soul. This was operatic rock opera at its very best, think Born to Run and Bohemian Rhapsody fused together and then turned up to 11! The album remained in the UK charts for 10 years!
Like many fans I saw him over the years, first as a student on the Bad Attitude tour in 1984, then a bizarre performance as a guest of Deep Purple’s on their reunion concert at Knebworth, where with a broken leg he still performed, and then as a guest of his and his promoter in 1987 at the NEC. By then I was working in venue management at the Manchester Apollo, he was at a low ebb in his professional career having been dropped by his record label, however he kept on touring. He sold out the Apollo, and a fellow manager and I were invited to say hello. I recall this huge character met us with absolute charm and friendship, recounted his previous visits to the venue and asked us to see him in Birmingham’s NEC the next night.
To watch Meat Loaf on stage was pure theatre, he connected to his audience emotionally on every occasion, acting out his songs we the fans enjoyed the pure over the top theatricality of it all. Live music has lost another great performer, I’m certain his legacy will continue.
CEO, The Guildhall Trust