STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
firstname.lastname@example.org, @GraffonMusic on Twitter
Before there was “Bat Out of Hell,” Meat Loaf had another claim to fame.
The Texas-born singer (real name Marvin Lee Aday) was part of both “The Rocky Horror Show” stage musical and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” film adaptation, starring in the latter as the ill-fated Eddie. And though the film’s 40th anniversary has caused quite a stir recently, Meat Loaf says the entire “Rocky Horror” experience, stage and screen, was impactful on his career.
“It was a stepping stone, and it was a really good one,” Meat Loaf, 68 — who also starred in a production of “Hair” at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre and recorded an album for Motown with Silver Bullet Band backup singer Shaun “Stoney” Murphy — says by phone from his home in Austin, Texas. He was particularly impressed with Tim Curry, who starred in both productions as “sweet transvestite” Dr. Frank N Furter.
“On the third night with him I learned something about acting that has been a lifelong lesson,” Meat Loaf recalls. “I was playing Dr. Scott as well as Eddie, and he delivered the line, ‘Well Dr. Scott, we meet at last’ completely different than he did the first two shows. I knew I had to change the intention of my line right away, so that was acting lesson 101.
“So I hold Tim Curry in very high esteem for that, and he’s high on my list of people that have really contributed to what I’ve done.”
The “Rocky Horror” film was also instrumental in helping launch the “Bat Out of Hell” album’s worldwide success. As it became a midnight sensation, the singer convinced film producer Lou Adler to show the video for his song “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” before the movie.
“Back in 1977, ‘78, that thing was across the country, theaters were packed everywhere, and ‘Paradise By the Dashboard Light’ was, like, the trailer to ‘Rocky Horror,’” Meat Loaf recalls. “It was a great way to get ‘Bat Out of Hell’ in front of people.”
The rest, of course, is history to the tune of more than 43 million albums sold worldwide, as well as two more “Bat” albums and an enduring career in both music and film that’s included roles in “Wayne’s World,” “Fight Club” and many others. Meat Loaf has stayed active as a touring act, and he’s finishing up a new album, “Braver Than We Are,” with “Bat” collaborator Jim Steinman writing song and co-producing.
“It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard,” Meat Loaf says of the album. “It’s like ‘Bat Out of Hell’ was in ‘77; nothing that’s out there now can compare to it. I’m not saying it’s better than anything else; I’m just saying it is in a world unto itself. There is no other artist even close to it.
“See, no one approaches it the way I do. You hear people say, ‘Sing with passion.’ I don’t sing with passion; I live the song. I’m in the middle of it. I am the characters. I’m walking down the street or whatever. I don’t even know if there’s an audience there or other people in the studio. It all just disappears. That’s the only way I know how to do it.”