Meat Loaf: Stars pay tribute to 'one-off' Bat Out Of Hell singer

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Stars including Cher, Brian May and Bonnie Tyler have paid tribute to rock singer Meat Loaf, who has died aged 74.

Cher, who duetted with him on the 1981 track Dead Ringer for Love, recalled having "had so much fun" with him.

Queen guitarist Brian May, who also worked with Meat Loaf, said he was "completely gutted".

He wrote on Instagram: "Always full of madness, with the innocent sense of naughtiness of a five-year old, Meat was forever young."

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Image caption,
Brian May joined Meat Loaf on stage in 2004

Meat Loaf's best-known album, the bombastic Bat Out Of Hell, remains one of the best-selling releases of all time.

The star sold 100 million albums worldwide in total and also appeared in movies like Fight Club, the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne's World.

He was also known for hits like I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) and Dead Ringer For Love.

The news of his death was confirmed on the star's Facebook page by his family.

"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," their message read.

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Bonnie Tyler, who released an album with Meat Loaf in 1989, said he was "a larger than life character with a voice & stage presence to match & is one of those rare people who truly was a one-off talent and personality."

Queen's current frontman Adam Lambert remembered him as "a gentle hearted powerhouse rockstar forever and ever".

Fellow rocker Alice Cooper also paid his respects, saying: "Meat Loaf was one of the greatest voices in rock 'n' roll, and he was certainly one of my closest friends in the business.

"There was nobody, and I mean nobody like Meat Loaf," he added. "His shoes can never be filled."

Theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote: "The vaults of heaven will be ringing with rock. RIP Meatloaf."

British vocalist Lorraine Crosby, who sang on I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That), told BBC News he was "a great man" who was "very generous with everything".

The star was "larger than life" and "had a temper", she said, but added: "He didn't fall out with you for long. He'd say his bit, and then everything would be fine the next day."

Media caption,
Meat Loaf in 2016: "I either want to die in my sleep or die on stage"

The Dallas-born singer was born Marvin Lee Aday but also known as Michael, and got his nickname when his dad said he looked as red as meat at birth, before a high school football coach added the "loaf".

As well as the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy, he released a string of other albums in the late 1970s and 1980s, most notably Dead Ringer and Midnight at the Lost and Found.

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In the 90s, I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) was the UK's best-selling single of 1993 and earned him a Grammy Award.

On screen, he played Eddie in 1975 musical film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, was bouncer Tiny in 1992's Wayne's World, and appeared opposite Brad Pitt as bodybuilder Robert Paulsen in 1999's Fight Club.

"If Bruce Springsteen can take it over the top, Meat Loaf can take it five storeys higher."

That's how Todd Rundgren, the producer of Bat Out Of Hell, described Meat Loaf's bombastic, operatic voice. He was one of a kind, larger than life - living proof that those clichés can be true.

Born to a family of gospel singers, he got his break in musical theatre, where he teamed up with Jim Steinman. Together, they spent four years making Bat Out Of Hell.

The session musicians thought it was a joke, and it was rejected by four record labels. But after two explosive TV performances - on the UK's Old Grey Whistle Test and America's Saturday Night Live - it couldn't be stopped. It has now sold more than 43 million copies worldwide.

The resulting tour was punishing. Meat Loaf ended up with exhaustion and his career stalled. Worse still, contractual problems meant he received no royalties from Bat Out Of Hell for years, eventually declaring bankruptcy. In one interview, he confessed he was so angered by the situation that he would pull copies of the CD off record store shelves and smash them under his feet to make sure no-one else got paid, either.

But his career rebounded in the 1990s when he teamed up again with Steinman for Bat Out Of Hell II, producing the high-camp I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That), which spent seven weeks at number one in the UK.

His death robs rock of a true original. But we'll always be able to belt out those classics in the way they were intended - at the top of our lungs on a late night car ride. Paradise By The Dashboard Light, indeed.

Other friends and collaborators told stories of their time with Meat Loaf. Irish singer Imelda May recalled a boozy night out with him.

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Boy George recalled a similarly memorable evening with the star.

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Republican rock

Meat Loaf was one of the few big-name American entertainment figures to campaign for US presidential candidate Mitt Romney in his race against Barack Obama in 2012.

Romney ultimately lost, but kept his friendship with the singer, who he described on Friday as "a man of gentle kindness, generous spirit and exceptional talent".

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Donald Trump, who did later make his way into the Oval Office, said the late singer was "smart, talented, open and warm". The two appeared together on the celebrity version of the US Apprentice.

In the UK, former culture secretary Matt Hancock revealed that a Meat Loaf gig in Manchester was his first experience of live music.

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