The new year has not been as good-natured and gentle as we had hoped — especially given the way things have gone for the past two years. Right off the bat, the iconic Betty White left us after nearly 100 years of entertainment and glamour. Shortly after, Meat Loaf, a legend in both the singing and acting worlds, passed away. In his wake, he left thousands of heartbroken fans that would do anything to make the circumstances different.
Long-time performer Marvin Lee Aday — better known by his stage name, “Meat Loaf” — passed away late this January due to complications from COVID-19. Aday’s reputation over the years across the many facets of the entertainment world has made him one of the most recognizable and well-loved vocal talents. His vast fan base stems from not just his 12 studio albums, but also from his acting repertoire that has seen him cast in timeless classics such as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Fight Club.” Aday’s powerful vocals have also featured in many Broadway and musical theater productions, firmly establishing the versatility of his craft.
Aday’s contribution to the music world is undeniable — his three associated albums “Bat Out Of Hell” I, II and III, garnered widespread popularity, beginning with the first release in 1977 to the third installment in 2006. One of Aday’s more famous singles, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” from “Bat Out Of Hell II,” won a Grammy for best solo rock vocal performance. The singer is even listed on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.” Together with his long-time collaborator and friend James Richard Steinman, the legacy of Meat Loaf is an untainted one that will live on in the years to come.
According to Aday, the name “Meat Loaf” drew inspiration from a few different sources that altogether had the same effect to produce the iconic stage name. The first of them was Aday’s physical state when he was born; during an interview, the singer noted that he was quite red in appearance during the first few days after birth, which prompted his father to equate his likeness to “nine pounds of ground chuck” and inspired him to add the word “meat” to his crib.
During his school days, his heavy weight became a point of verbal bullying from other kids who took to calling him “meatloaf.” His initials, M.L., certainly contributed to his eventual stage moniker. The fact that Aday turned such vulnerability into one of the most well-known names in the music world is testimony to his free-spirited defiance.
However, Aday didn’t completely escape the unwanted effects of taunts and shaming: In the ’80s the singer changed his legal name from “Marvin” to “Michael” after an unrelated Levi’s commercial badly affected his self-image. The radio commercial stated that “poor fat Marvin can’t wear jeans,” which Aday took to heart. He commented on the ordeal, saying, “I’ve always been the poor fat Marvin that can’t wear Levi’s.” Interestingly enough, Aday purposefully gained 60 pounds before his physical exam for the Vietnam War draft to ensure that he was not conscripted.
During his life, Aday also suffered various medical complications, including the effects of Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome, which affected his heart rate, as well as asthma and a spinal cyst that had to be surgically resolved, leaving Aday in a wheelchair and with a walking cane for a large part of 2019. Whether or not his overall health was compromised by these factors at the time of his COVID-19 infection is not clear, but in the days leading up to his passing, it was obvious that he was critically ill.
Aday expressed skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine, reflected in his statement, “I’d rather die a free man than take that vaccine,” but no one has confirmed if he ever did get vaccinated. Current reports insensitively imply that the connection needs to be addressed as soon as possible by the singer’s grieving family; however, nothing has been confirmed by Aday’s loved ones other than his passing.
As fans grieve this sudden loss, the matter is worsened by the fact that shortly before his passing, Aday announced to his fans via a Facebook post in November 2021 that in the new year he would begin the process of recording and releasing both new and re-recorded music. Unfortunately, this never came to pass, adding to the grief fans around the world are currently experiencing.
However, Aday leaves behind more than his extensive discography; the character Aday showed to his fans over the years made him likable and relatable to many. His experiences with social anxiety as well as his vegetarian-to-vegan lifestyle contributed to the way the world came to love the famous singer. Aday was also a devoutly religious man since his childhood, elements of which can be picked up in some of his music. Despite his impressive vocal skills and the lifetime career he gained from it, it is clear that the legacy of Meat Loaf is so much more.
Since his passing, many a tribute has been made — from both music channels on TV and radio, as well as personal messages from fans. Other singers and fellow celebrities including Cher, Bonnie Tyler, Stephen Fry and even Donald Trump made heart-warming tributes to the iconic singer and said what he meant to them. As a final glorious requiem, the Queen’s Guard came together at Buckingham Palace and performed an instrumental rendition of “I’d Do Anything for Love,” seeing Meat Loaf off and honoring the great singer’s life. As Aday says in the song — “But I’ll never do it better than I do it with you.”