Entertainment Celebrity ‘Sweet soul’: Stars remember Meat Loaf who reportedly became ill with COVID
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‘Sweet soul’: Stars remember Meat Loaf who reportedly became ill with COVID

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Celebrities have remembered Meat Loaf as “larger than life” and “a sweet soul” as a report emerged that the rock legend had become seriously ill with COVID before his death.

No official cause or details have been publicly released since it was announced on Friday the singer, born Marvin Lee Aday, passed at age 74.

However entertainment news site TMZ has quoted sources “with knowledge” who said Meat Loaf had been “seriously ill with COVID” which quickly become “critical”.

The site reports he was meant to attend a business dinner earlier this week for a dating show he had been working on named I’d Do Anything for Love, named after his hit song.

However TMZ reports the dinner was cancelled because Meat Loaf  became “seriously ill with COVID”.

The site quotes sources who said Meat Loaf’s condition “quickly became critical”.

“Our sources say Meat Loaf has been outspoken about COVID, railing with folks in Australia recently about vaccine mandates. We do not know if he was vaccinated,” the report states.

Meat Loaf performing in Philadelphia. Photo: Getty

Meat Loaf was loved by millions for his mega-selling Bat Out of Hell album which came out in 1977 and made him one of the most recognisable performers in rock.

He was famed for such theatrical, dark-hearted anthems as “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”.

Famous friends and people who worked with or met Meat Loaf over the years have paid tribute to him with posts on social media.

Cher said she had “so much fun” collaborating with Meat Loaf on the song Dead Ringer for Love.

Actor Edward Norton said he had a framed photo with Meat Loaf in his office that made him smile.

“I don’t keep pictures from films around home. But I have this one in my office in a frame (because) it makes me smile every time,” he wrote.

“It’s engraved ‘Love and Hugs, Meat’ it sums him up well. He was so funny. And gentle. And warm to everyone. A sweet soul. RIP Meat Loaf.”

Singer Bonnie Tyler, who came to prominence around the time of Meat Loaf, said he was “one of those rare people who truly was a one-off talent and personality”.

“I am shocked & saddened by the sudden death of Meat Loaf. He was, as you might imagine, a larger than life character with a voice & stage presence to match,” she wrote on Twitter.

After a slow start and mixed reviews, Bat Out of a Hell became one of the top-selling albums in history, with worldwide sales of more than 40 million copies.

But Meat Loaf wasn’t a consistent hit-maker, especially after an estrangement that lasted several years with songwriter Jim Steinman, with whom he collaborated on the album.

But he maintained close ties with his fans through his manic live shows, social media and his many television, radio and film appearances.

He was in Fight Club and had cameos on Glee and South Park.

His biggest musical success after Bat Out of Hell was Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, a 1993 reunion with Steinman that sold more than 15 million copies and featured the Grammy-winning single I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).

Aday’s other albums included Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, Hell in a Handbasket and Braver Than We Are.

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.

Born to perform

Aday was singing and acting in high school (Mick Jagger was an early favourite, so was Ethel Merman) and attended Lubbock Christian College and what is now the University of North Texas.

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 mother’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 Hair.

Portrait of Meat Loaf, 1987. Photo: Getty

By the mid-1970s, he was playing the lobotomised biker Eddie in the theatre and film versions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, had served as an understudy for his friend John Belushi for the stage production of National Lampoon and had begun working with Steinman on Bat Out of Hell.

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 Springsteen’s grandiose style.

Steinman had known Meat Loaf since the singer appeared in his 1973 musical More Than You Deserve and some of the songs on Bat Out of Hell, including All Revved Up With No Place to Go, were initially written for a planned stage show based on the story of Peter Pan.

Bat Out of Hell took more than two years to find a taker as numerous record executives turned it down, including RCA’s Clive Davis, who disparaged Steinman’s songs only to later acknowledge that he had misjudged the singer: “The songs were coming over as very theatrical, and Meat Loaf, despite a powerful voice, just didn’t look like a star,” Davis wrote in his memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life.

A live concert circa 1985. Photo: Getty

With the help of another Springsteen sideman, Steve Van Zandt, Bat Out of Hell 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 TV program The Old Grey Whistle Test.

In the US, his connection to Rocky Horror helped when he convinced producer Lou Adler to use a video of Paradise By the Dashboard Light as a trailer for the cult movie.

He is survived by Deborah Gillespie, his wife since 2007, and by daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday.

-with AAP