I suppose the thing that I admire most is the fact that he stuck with that name: Meat Loaf. Brought into the world, he was Michael Lee Aday. On his way out, he was Meat Loaf, a name he was saddled with back in the mid-sixties. He stuck with that moniker for more than sixty years, and a career that spanned more than fifty years. Compare that to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or Little Johnny Cougar Mellencamp, guys who jettisoned their nicknames as their fame increased. They were not happy to be packaged as a product. But not Meat. Mister Loaf embraced it. He owned it.
My first introduction to Meat Loaf and his music was, I confess, via the album cover for Bat Out Of Hell. That chopper roaring out of the grave into the lurid orange and red sky, with that gigantic bat standing guard over the tombstones. It was drawn by Richard Corben, whom I would later discover in my travels through Heavy Metal magazine, but it was all Meat.
Or at least that was what I believed at the time. It took me a decade or so to catch up to the reality, thanks to a much more devoted fan than I, my roommate and partner in crime who introduced me to Jim Steinman, the composer and arranger behind all that brute force rock and roll. Jim was not happy that his name was not featured alongside his friend's. But what self-respecting record exec would pass up a chance to stick Meat Loaf on the front of any brand new record? Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf? Probably not.
It was the same pal who introduced me to something that I had missed in my high school years: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, featuring the musical talents and the crowd response line, "Meat Loaf? Again?" That appearance in everyone's favorite midnight movie would probably be enough to cement his pop culture legacy, but Meat would not rest. Or loaf, if you prefer. His music career and a series of acting gigs in movies that the casual viewer might have missed.
Oh, and he was in Fight Club. His name was Robert Paulson. In an ironic twist, Meat's character was a beast of a man, but the actor himself had just shed a lot of weight, and was therefore required to perform his role in a fat suit. Apologies, here for talking about Fight Club, since we all know the rules, don't we?
But I think the thing I won't ever forget about Meat Loaf was the moment, toward the end of the song Paradise By The Dashboard Light when he promises his girl that he will "love her until the end of time." A beat, then, "So now I'm prayin' for the end of time."
Aloha, Meat Loaf. You truly stomped on the Terra. And we're looking forward to the end of time when we'll all be able to spend some more time with you.