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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER MEAT LOAF
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Hottest rock act in town


For several years, up until last fall, Meat loaf lived in peaceful obscurity in an apartment at 25 West 74th Street. Few people outside of his own circle knew that the name applied to a gargantuan 29-year-old singer from Texas and the rock band he headed.

A couple of months ago, Meat returned to his old neighborhood after a long absence. This time he caused a mob scene in the local supermarket, and, on escaping to his apartment, found people climbing on the window ledges trying to catch a glimpse of him. The reason? His group's first album, Bat Out Of Hell, which has sold three million copies since its release a year ago.

"I don't like to be rude to fans," says the calm, gentlemanly Meat Loaf (his legal name) during an interview at his new apartment in another part of the West Side. "I'd lie down on the floor for hours so they couldn't see me. … People magazine printed my real name and told more or less where I lived: that's why I had to move."

Bare feet perched on the coffee table, he spreads his 275-pound, 6-foot frame evenly on the living room sofa. Although Meat's onstage image makes him out to be one of rock's meanest and toughest characters, in person he is totally devoid of arrogance, and in fact seems almost shy. Sam Ellis, Meat Loaf's glib road manager who arranged the group's recent trips to England, Germany, Canada and Australia, helps the interview along by adding his comments whenever Meat begins to reach for words.

All the songs on Bat Out Of Hell — raucous, earthy, and intense — were written by fellow Westsider Jim Steinman, who plays keyboard with the group. After he and Meat Loaf met in 1973, they performed together frequently, but their music met with limited success.

"People were afraid of it," says Meat. "The songs were long. The voices were loud. People in rock said it was too theatre. People in theatre said it was too rock and roll." When Meat and Jim were finally offered a contract to do an album, Steinman went to work on some new material, and wrote nearly the entire contents of Bat Out Of Hell in four months, including the gold singles Two Out of Three Ain't Bad and Paradise by the Dashboard Light — a duet celebrating teen sexuality that has been choreographed into an 8-minute show stopper by Meat and lead female vocalist Karla DeVito. "Jim doesn't just write the songs and hand them to me. I do most of the vocal arrangements. It's really a team. It's like Sonny and Cher," says the gargantuan singer.

Brought up in Dallas u............
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