R.I.P. Marvin Lee Aday, 1947-2022

Meat Loaf live, 2009

It started as a meta joke. In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the character Eddie, who later serves as the main course for supper, was played by Marvin Lee Aday. Aday, better known by his stage name, Meat Loaf, inspired the character Columbia’s complaint about the entrée, “Meat Loaf again?” That line usually gets used when the loaf-shaped meat course gets served at the WC household.

Meat Loaf as the lobotomized biker Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Meat Loaf isn’t famous only for his role as the lobotomized biker Eddie in Rocky Horror. He’s much better known as a musician who, at least when performing songs written by the late Jim Steinem, sold millions and millions of records.

And somedays I pray for silence
And somedays I pray for soul
Somedays I just pray to the God of Sex and Drums and Rock ‘N Roll.

I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), Jim Steinem and Meat Loaf

More operatic than the late Roy Orbison, more bombastic than Sammy Hagar, Meat Loaf on stage looked like a professional football lineman gone to seed. But Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II were multi-platinum sellers, with total worldwide sales of more than 70 million. He was the late Terry Pratchett’s favorite musician; in Pratchett’s wonderful sendup of the music industry, Soul Music, Pratchett went to considerable work to set up a scene that is a DiscWorld version of the cover of Bat Out of Hell.

But WC never understood the attraction. The one time WC saw him live, while back in Chicago for a friend’s wedding in 1977, where Meat Loaf opened for Cheap Trick. About all WC can say about the show is that there were many, many decibels expended. And Meat Loaf went through at least three towels, sweating on stage. He sweat so heavily he held the microphone in a towel. WC usually purchases an album or CD after a show, but in this case, it wasn’t a consideration.

Yet the man had millions of fans. His songs on YouTube have tens of millions of plays. The grief expressed on his death is real. De gustibus est non disputandum, WC supposes.

It’s not fair to talk about Meat Loaf without mentioning Jim Steinem. Every album Steinem and Loaf did together went multi-platinum. Every album Meat Loaf made without him flopped like a dead fish. Jim Steinem died last April, without much publicity. It was every bit as much a loss.

Bat Out of Hell was rejected by every single major studio. Clive Davis, a genius for seeing new music, rejected it out of hand. Only a little known subsidiary of Epic Records was willing to take a chance. The rest is rock and roll history.