‘Our hearts are broken’: Singer Meat Loaf dies aged 74

Career spanning six decades saw artist sell over 100m albums and appear in 65 films

US singer Meat Loaf, known for hits such as Bat Out Of Hell, has died at the age of 74, his family has announced.

Born Marvin Lee Aday and later legally known as Michael, the musician died on Thursday with his wife, Deborah Gillespie, by his side.

“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,” his family said in a statement.

“From his heart to your souls – don't ever stop rocking!”

Written and composed by Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf's 1977 debut album Bat Out of Hell remains one of the biggest-selling albums in history. Steinman and Meat Loaf's 1993 album Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell produced the global hit single I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That).

He completed the Bat Out of Hell trilogy with The Monster Is Loose in 2006. The three albums have sold more than 65 million copies worldwide.

Meat Loaf also had a breakout role in the 1975 film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show playing Eddie, a feral and ill-fated delivery boy who sings the song Hot Patootie.

He appeared in more than 50 films and TV shows, among them Fight Club, Wayne's World and Spiceworld the Movie. In 2021, he signed a deal to develop a relationship competition series titled I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That). The news of the rock star's death prompted numerous fond tributes.

Meat Loaf had spoken openly about health issues that had plagued him, notably asthma, which caused him to collapse on stage during a concert in Pittsburgh in 2011, and in 2003 he collapsed at Wembley Arena in London and was admitted to hospital.

Following an on-stage collapse in Canada in 2016, a statement issued at the time said it had been down to “severe dehydration”.

Meat Loaf initially made his name in theatre productions, including a Broadway run of Hair, and in 2012 he told the PA news agency about his roots as an actor. He said: “I started as an actor, I am an actor. I started in New York in theatre, almost 10 years before Bat came out.

“While other people were playing out in bars and doing music, I was doing theatre, so that’s why Jim [Steinman] and I struggled so much because Jim and I both came from theatre, and they went ‘You’re not rock people. You’re theatre people. Theatre people don’t make records’. The public didn’t care, but I’ve gone up against that my entire career.”

Despite his cool attitude to fame, Meat Loaf had a nervous breakdown following Bat Out of Hell. A mooted follow-up album, Bad for Good, was blighted by Meat Loaf losing his voice thanks to a combination of touring, drugs and exhaustion.

Although a big live draw, Meat Loaf's records foundered commercially in the 1980s. That decade, he made forays into comedy, trying standup and performing in the UK with Hugh Laurie. He also struggled personally: he once had to be forcibly removed from a hotel room to which he retreated for weeks.

A tour of Ireland in 1989 saw him headline such off-the-beaten track locations as Conna Castle in north Cork and Neptune Stadium in Cork city. Meat Loaf always spoke fondly of that time and credited it with helping restore his passion for rock music – setting him on the comeback path which would culminate in 1993's Bat Out Of Hell II, the single I Would Do Anything For Love and sales of over 14 million.

Despite the stage name, he was for a time a vegetarian. In 2001, he legally changed his name from Marvin to Michael, having always associated the name Marvin with a Levi's ad from his youth with the strapline: “Poor fat Marvin can't wear Levi's.”

He also admitted to social anxiety that prevented him from socialising. Speaking to Mojo, he characterised the public perception of his act: “That I'm overblown, pompous, melodramatic, self-indulgent. I've heard it a million times. And the first person to describe me like that was me. It's supposed to be overblown. It's a f***ing comedy. The entire history of rock'n'roll is a comedy – Rock'n'roll was never meant to answer the questions of the universe. It's a laugh. I'm a laugh. So laugh at me if you like. I have no problem with that.” – PA, Guardian