Rock icon Meat Loaf dies at 74

The American singer and actor Meat Loaf, famous for his rock anthem Bat Out of Hell, part of one of the best-selling albums of all time, has died at age 74.

Rock icon Meat Loaf dies at 74
Meat Loaf performs during a TV show in the southern German town of Boeblingen near Stuttgart in January 2003. (Reuters Photo)

The American singer and actor Meat Loaf, famous for his rock anthem Bat Out of Hell, part of one of the best-selling albums of all time, has died at age 74.

The singer and actor, otherwise known as Michael Lee Aday, had a career spanning six decades, and sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.

“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side,” read a statement on his Facebook page.

“Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.” No cause of death was given in the statement.

Born in Dallas in 1947, Meat Loaf first found success on the stage in the 1970s, performing in the Broadway musicals Hair and The Rocky Horror Show.

He switched focus to rock music in the early 1970s and collaborated with Jim Steinman on a debut album that showcased his powerful voice and established his long-haired, leather-clad, motorcycle-riding rock persona.

The beefy Texas-born singer distinguished himself in the late 1970s with his soaring vocal range and lavish stage productions.

His 1977 album Bat out of Hell sold some 43 million copies.

“Like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes; When the night is over, like a bat out of hell, I’ll be gone, gone, gone,” Meat Loaf sang, with an intensity bordering on melodrama that became his hallmark and established him as a rock icon and one of the hardest-working performers in show business.

After a career rut, Meat Loaf enjoyed a revival with the success of I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), which won him a Grammy Award in 1993.

His role in the 1999 cult-classic movie Fight Club highlighted his acting prowess in one of the decade’s most critically acclaimed films.

Meat Loaf’s other hit singles include Paradise by the Dashboard Light (1977), Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (1977) and I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us (1981).

In 2016, he released a new album — his first since 2011 — and returned to a busy schedule after a two-year gap in touring, a string of health scares and speculation he would retire.

The singer had collapsed onstage at least three times since 2003, including once in Canada in 2016 after suffering from dehydration while singing his smash hit I’d Do Anything For Love.

According to the statement on Facebook, his career spanned six decades that saw him sell over 100 million albums and appear in over 65 movies.

“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man,” it added.

“From his heart to your souls … don’t ever stop rocking!”

Throughout his career, Meat Loaf had several small parts in films and TV shows, including the cult musical comedy Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and Wayne’s World (1992).

The British writer Stephen Fry, who appeared in a sketch with the rock star on Saturday Night Live, said: “I hope paradise is as you remember it from the dashboard light, Meat Loaf.

“He had the quality of being simultaneously frightening and cuddly.”

British producer Pete Waterman said: “It was his voice — you knew what you got with Meat Loaf. It was 100 percent of everything.”