“Life is not linear; you have ups and downs. It’s how you deal with the troughs that defines you”.
The quote I used above comes from Michael Lee-Chin. He is a Jamaican business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is the founder and Chairman of Portland Holdings Inc., a privately held investment company which owns a collection of diversified operating companies in sectors that include media, tourism, health care telecommunications and financial services. The reason I used his quote is that in today’s society most people readily listen to those who have achieved great financial gains. Many feel that those who have acquired wealth have certain “insight” when it comes to life and its volatile nature. That may be true in some cases but I, like many of you, have learned life lessons through my own experiences. Nevertheless, a good quote here and there might help us reach valuable conclusions in life. Michael Lee-Chin’s quote helps to paint a realistic picture of the successful musician who has enjoyed a very long career. An artist will experience many peaks and valleys, but the longevity comes from the way he or she deals with the lowest career points. I have had the privilege of speaking with several, and all of them make statements that mirror Lee-Chin’s quote. This week I chose to feature a musician who has been active in the industry since 1970. This week I am featuring the multi-talented entertainer, singer/songwriter/actor Meat Loaf.
Although Meat Loaf has reached musical accomplishments that have made him an iconic figure in the world, many of my much younger readers may not be familiar with him or his music. As always a brief introduction would be in order at this point.
Marvin (later changed his name to Michael) Lee Aday was born in Dallas, Texas on the date of publication of this post, September 27, 1947. He was the only child of Wilma Artie (née Hukel), a school teacher and a member of the Vo-di-o-do Girls gospel quartet, and Orvis Wesley Aday, a police officer. In 1965, Aday graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, having already started his acting career via school productions such as “Where’s Charley?” and “The Music Man”. After attending college at Lubbock Christian College, he transferred to North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas in Denton). Shortly after the death of his mother, Aday moved to California.
In Los Angeles, Aday formed his first band, “Meat Loaf Soul”. Meat Loaf Soul’s first gig was in Huntington Beach at the Cave, opening for Van Morrison’s band, Them. Later, the band was the opening act at Cal State Northridge for Renaissance, Taj Mahal and Janis Joplin. The band then underwent several changes of lead guitar, changing the name of the band each time. The new names included Popcorn Blizzard and Floating Circus. As Floating Circus, they opened for the Who, the Fugs, the Stooges, MC5, Grateful Dead and the Grease Band. Their regional success led them to release a single, “Once Upon a Time”, backed with “Hello”. However, the name Meat Loaf remains the way Aday is identified even until today.
Meat Loaf is noted for the Bat Out of Hell trilogy consisting of Bat Out of Hell, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose. Bat Out of Hell has sold more than 43 million copies worldwide. After 35 years, it still sells an estimated 200,000 copies annually and stayed on the charts for over nine years, making it one of the best selling albums of all time.
When anyone has endured a more than forty-five year career, there are bound to be times when things just don’t go well. Certainly Meat Loaf is not alone in experiencing tough periods of time. Meat Loaf and friend/songwriter Jim Steinman started Bat Out of Hell in 1972, but did not get serious about it until the end of 1974. Meat Loaf decided to leave theatre, and concentrate exclusively on music. Then, the “National Lampoon Show” opened on Broadway, and it needed an understudy for John Belushi. After the Lampoon show ended, Meat Loaf and Steinman spent time seeking a record deal. Their approaches were rejected by each record company, because their songs did not fit any specific recognized music industry style. Finally, they performed the songs for Todd Rundgren, who decided to produce the album, as well as play lead guitar on it. They then shopped the record around, but still had no takers until Cleveland International Records decided to take a chance. In October 1977, Bat Out of Hell was finally released. During a show in Ottawa, Meat Loaf lumbered off the stage and broke his leg. He toured with the broken leg, performing from a wheel chair. During this time, Meat Loaf began heavy use of cocaine, had a nervous breakdown and threatened to commit suicide by jumping off the ledge of a building in New York. In the middle of recording his second album, Bad for Good, Meat Loaf lost the ability to sing. His doctors said that physically he was fine and that his problem was psychological. Meat Loaf slowly made his way back to performing, and after just a few years he was entertaining large audiences again. He had a way to successfully deal with one of several of his personal troughs of life.
Now Meat Loaf has just announced plans for an upcoming fall tour, with the initial dates beginning October 23 at the Pechanga Theatre in Temecula, California. The shows will mark his first extended series of tour dates in 2 years. “As a performing artist, being in front of a live audience is a feeling you can’t get with anything else,” he says. “The adrenaline you feel when the fans are singing along with the words to your songs, combined with their loyalty, is an amazing feeling. After all, I didn’t start yesterday, and they’ve been with me every step of the way.” With a show comprised of the biggest songs from his long list of Gold & Platinum selling albums, Meat Loaf will not disappoint.