In an interview conducted by Rolling Stone over two days, rock icon Meat Loaf (pictured at left in 1977) reminisced about his friend and longtime collaborator Jim Steinman (right), who died on April 19.
Steinman, the composer, lyricist and record producer who wrote Meat Loaf’s biggest hits, including “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” is co-credited for the seminal album “Bat Out Of Hell,” which went on to become one of the best-selling releases of all time, moving over 50 million copies.
According to the article, Meat Loaf broke down and sobbed uncontrollably at the end of the first interview, calling out, “Oh my God! I haven’t cried until now. It just hit me. Oh my God! It’s horrible!”
Meat Loaf chronicled his nearly 50-year friendship with Steinman, starting in 1973 when the singer auditioned for Steinman’s musical “More Than You Deserve” at the Public Theater in New York. Meat Loaf said that after landing the role, every time he performed the title song, the audience would “go berserk,” and one time they even chanted for an encore.
It was then that Meat Loaf knew he had to work with Steinman, so he helped him get a job as the piano player in the “National Lampoon” road show in which Meat Loaf was an understudy.
“I said to Jim, ‘Listen, we’re going out on the road. Let’s sit together and write a pop song,’” Meat Loaf said.
While touring with the “National Lampoon” show, the pair first wrote “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” and, eventually, the rest of the “Bat Out Of Hell” album came.
Despite several record label executives like Clive Davis telling Meat Loaf he had to ditch Steinman if he wanted a record deal, Meat Loaf said he would never leave his musical partner, whom he called an “absolute genius.”
Finally, the record came out in 1977, and their performance on “Saturday Night Live” in 1978 launched Meat Loaf into stardom and solidified “Bat Out Of Hell” as a best-selling classic.
Soon, Steinman went on to work with other artists like Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow and Bonnie Tyler, who sang “Total Eclipse of The Heart,” which Steinman originally wrote for Meat Loaf.
“You can’t just have a great voice and sing a Jim Steinman song,” Meat Loaf said. “You have to become a Jim Steinman song. You have to be the song. You don’t sing the song. You are the song.”
Later in their careers, the pair drifted apart, but Meat Loaf says Steinman was supposed to do “Bat Out of Hell III” with him but couldn’t due to a stroke and heart surgery. Despite their managers suing each other, Meat Loaf says he and Steinman were “never apart.”
“We belonged heart and soul to each other,” Meat Loaf said. “We didn’t know each other. We were each other.”