One rock act emerged this year that’s heavier (in all senses) than Peter Frampton and Roger Daltrey combined. But in these days of satiny, sylphlike stars, it takes more than hype—or even a forklift—to get a 260-pound monster like Meat Loaf off the ground. Heroically constructed to sing Wagner rather than Jagger, he is nonetheless belting out grade-A choice rock. Meat Loaf’s debut LP, Bat out of Hell, has sold nearly five million worldwide—or 100 times the original estimate. Along the way Meat made a catch phrase and an instant standard out of his biggest single, Two out of Three Ain’t Bad. And though he was born 30 years ago in Dallas as Marvin Lee Aday, the New York Times still stuffily refers to him as Mr. Loaf.
What’s more, with all due respect to the charismatic likes of Springsteen, Billy Joel, Kiss, et al, Meat Loaf in concert is simply the most visually riveting spectacle in rock today. Meat sweats, stomps, shakes and bellows onstage with such fury that it is worth traveling to see anywhere—except possibly atop the San Andreas Fault. During one exuberant turn, he accidentally plunged off a stage, injuring his leg badly enough to cancel a dozen performances and confine him to a wheelchair for another. But Meat keeps grinding, thanks to desperate snorts of uncut oxygen—and a tight nine-member band led by pianist-composer Jim Stein-man, an Amherst grad and the group’s apocalyptic thinker-writer. (Meat’s manager went to Harvard Law.)
The band’s most unorthodox sideman, Yankee broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, shares a platinum record for his double-entendre voiceover in the singer’s heavy-breathing paean to teenage sexuality, Paradise by the Dashboard Light. A baseball fan himself, Meat was driven from a Yankee playoff game in the sixth inning this fall by a mob of howling fans. For once, going to the showers couldn’t be sweeter. “I worked 12 years for this,” quoth the Loaf. “When I smelt blood, I went for it. I’m like my idol, Reggie Jackson. I never blow the big ones.”