Musicians and those with connections to the Northern Ireland music industry have paid tribute to the “fascinating” body of work created by one-of-a-kind musician, Meat Loaf.
Michael Lee Aday, better known as Meat Loaf, died at the age of 74. Fans say that his place amongst the pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll greats was secured when he released Bat Out of Hell.
The debut album was developed from a musical, Neverland, a futuristic rock version of Peter Pan, which Jim Steinman wrote for a workshop in 1974.
Meat Loaf was an unlikely superstar who arrived as a counterpoint to punk rock which was shaking up the music industry at the time.
His operatic blend of hard rock, fantasy lyrics, choir of backing vocalists and long, multipart songs reimagined rock ’n’ roll as a gothic Broadway spectacle.
Paul Connolly, lead singer in Derry rock band, The Wood Burning Savages, described Meat Loaf as one of those characters that sum up what it is to be a performer.
“Completely left field, fascinating, comic at times and mysterious at others. He glued the worlds of rock and opera together in ways that hadn’t been done to that level before and his theatrical stage presence acted and will act as the blueprint for what it takes to give an audience a thrill that lives on in the mind for years to come,” he explained.
A fruitful collaboration with Jim Steinman on Bat Out of Hell began when Meat Loaf auditioned successfully for Steinman’s musical More Than You Deserve in New York in 1973.
The duo worked on the material for several years and were rejected by numerous record companies before the album appeared on Cleveland International label, distributed by Epic Records.
The album turned into a slow-burning phenomenon, becoming an almost permanent fixture on charts around the world on its way to selling 43 million copies worldwide.
They would go on to work together on Bat Out Of Hell 2 and for his 13th studio album called Braver Than We Are.
TV and radio broadcaster and DJ, Joe Lindsay, said Meat Loaf was great. “He could have been an opera singer with that range but was just too wild a character.
“He’s a total standout as Eddie in Rocky Horror Picture Show but obviously his incredible records with Jim Steinman became staples of radio and record collections everywhere. And blimey, Dead Ringer For Love with Cher. Absolutely unreal.
“Was also no slouch as an actor. His role as Bob in Fight Club was made for him. And he’d lost a ton of weight, only to be put in a fatsuit by David Fincher. Amazing. Such big characters as him are rare, a big loss.”
As for a memory that stands out over the years, he added: “Watching Rocky Horror for first time. His tune Hot Patootie is a belter.”
In 2016, Meat Loaf spoke to Sunday Life, saying that almost 40 years after releasing one of the biggest rock albums of all time, he still expected to face criticism for his latest release.
At the time, the 68-year-old rocker had reunited with Steinman. There were concerns for the star’s health when he collapsed on stage.
With a clean bill of health, he toured the album in the UK in early 2017, including a date at Belfast’s SSE Arena.
Meat Loaf’s passion for music never waned. He welcomed the perception that he was over the top by saying “rock ‘n’ roll was never meant to answer the questions of the universe”.