Biography of Rock Singer and Actor Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf in 1977

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Marvin Lee Aday (who would later change his first name to Michael and his stage name to Meat Loaf) was born in Dallas, Texas on September 27, 1947. His mother was a school teacher who also sang in a gospel quartet. His father was a policeman who also went on drinking binges that sometimes lasted for days at a time.

It is at this point in the telling of rock artists' life stories that you would typically hear how the artist formed his first band in high school. Not young Mr. Aday. He was interested in being on stage alright, but as an actor, which he did in several Thomas Jefferson High School productions.

From Texas to California

After graduating from high school in 1965 and flirting briefly with college, Marvin (he hadn't yet changed his name to either Michael or Meat Loaf) moved where so many aspiring young actors go—Los Angeles—in 1967. But before pursuing his acting career, he formed his first band, which went through a variety of names including Popcorn Blizzard, Floating Circus, and Meat Loaf Soul.

Over the years, Mr. Aday has taken great delight in making up stories about how he came by the name Meat Loaf. The most likely of the various tales is that it was a nickname he got from his high school football coach, owing to his considerable size.)

The band's name changed frequently, but they began to develop a good-sized regional following as a result of opening for visiting acts like The Stooges and MC5 from Detroit, as well as The Who, Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin.

From 'Hair' to 'Hell'

Before the artist established his Meat Loaf musical persona, he joined the Los Angeles production of the musical, Hair. That exposure got him an invitation from Motown Records to record with one his cast-mates, Stoney Murphy. The resulting album, Stoney and Meatloaf (notice Meat Loaf was identified as Meatloaf) were released in 1971, and Meat Loaf found himself on tour promoting the album, and once again opening for big-name acts like Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Richie Havens, and Rare Earth.

That first album bombed, but Meat Loaf still had Hair to fall back on, which he did, moving to New York City and joining the Broadway production cast. A recording career once again moved to the back burner as more stage shows and a movie (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) followed in quick succession.

Let the Bats Begin

In 1972, Meat Loaf and a songwriter friend, Jim Steinman, had begun work on what would eventually become Bat Out of Hell, the album that would transform the aspiring actor into a card-carrying rock star. But it was almost 1975 when Meat Loaf left the footlights of Broadway to concentrate full time on a recording career.

Label after label turned down Bat Out of Hell because the music didn't fit neatly into any of the industry's established pigeonholes. Finally, Meat Loaf took the songs to Todd Rundgren (on whose 1976 album, Free-for-All Meat Loaf was lead singer on more than half of the tracks after Rundgren's lead singer quit.) Rundgren not only agreed to produce the album, but to play lead guitar, and offered the services of several members of his band, Utopia. Finally, a small independent label, Cleveland International Records released Bat Out of Hell in October 1977, five years after Meat Loaf and Steinman started working on it.

More Bats

It could be said here that the rest is history, and it is. To recap, more movies (over three dozen) and network TV series appearances (about two dozen) followed, along with a few more stage plays.

And there were more albums—a dozen studio albums in all (including two more in the Bats series) and five live albums culled from 21 tours between 1977 and 2012.

Meat Loaf has always seemed to be "this close" to some disaster or other. He has survived a car crash, two broken legs from a leap off a stage, an emergency landing in his private jet, and a head injury after being hit by a shot during a shot put event. He has asthma and a heart condition, and in recent years has had recurring problems with his voice, which led to surgery to remove a cyst from a vocal cord.

But it doesn't appear that any of that will slow him down. In Meat Loaf's own words, "I've done nothing outside the entertainment business. I've had some real highs and some real lows, but I love the work so much that I never once thought of quitting."

Meat Loaf Discography

Studio Albums

  • Stoney & Meatloaf (1971)
  • Bat Out of Hell (1977)
  • Dead Ringer (1981)
  • Midnight at the Lost and Found (1983)
  • Bad Attitude (1984)
  • Blind Before I Stop (1986)
  • Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993)
  • Welcome to the Neighbourhood (1995)
  • Couldn't Have Said it Better (2003)
  • Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose (2006)
  • Hang Cool Teddy Bear (2010)
  • Hell in a Handbasket (2012)

Live Albums

  • Live at Wembley (1987)
  • Live Around the World (1996)
  • VH1: Storytellers (1999)
  • Bat Out of Hell: Live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (2004)
  • 3 Bats Live (2007)
  • Woodstock Crowd through fish eye lens

    Where Are They Now? The Original Woodstock Performers

  • Velvet Underground

    The Story of the Velvet Underground, Influential Rock PIoneers

  • Bruce Springsteen performing live in concert.

    Who Are the 20 Best Rock Singers of All Time?

  • Celine Dion If You Asked Me To

    Celine Dion's 10 Best Songs

  • Barbra Streisand

    The Record-Breaking Career of Barbra Streisand

  • Joe Strummer

    Life of Joe Strummer, The Clash's Frontman

  • Barbra Streisand

    The 10 Best Barbra Streisand Songs

  • KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas 2017 - Day 1

    Muse Biography and Band Profile

  • Essence Awards 2001 Aaliyah

    Pop Musicians Who Died in the 2000s

  • Michael Jackson performing

    30 Greatest R&B Male Superstars of All-Time

  • Electric Light Orchestra

    Electric Light Orchestra (ELO): A Power-Pop Symphony

  • The Eagles: Godfathers of "New Country"

  • group walking onto a beach with a stereo

    Top 20 Summer Pop Albums of All Time

  • davepirner.jpg

    Interview - Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum

  • The Penguins with Johnny Otis

    25 One Hit Wonders and Where They Are Now

  • Everly Brothers

    Here's a Look at the Top 40 Most Essential Pop Artists of All Time