In the late 1960s a fat kid named Marvin Aday (known as Meat Loaf to his friends) started singing and playing rock and roll. After some touring as the opening act for some big name rockers Mr. Loaf won a part in a West Coast production of Hair and began carving out a niche as a stage actor who could belt out the operatic rock numbers that were becoming popular. One of these shows was written by Jim Steinman, a classically trained pianist who brought a bombastic style to the rock opera. Meat Loaf’s voice and Steinman’s over the top music were a perfect fit, leading to one of the greatest rock albums of all time, 1977’s Bat Out Of Hell.
Bat Out Of Hell was an grandiose epic of teenage love and lust, capped by the 10 minute Paradise By The Dashboard Light, a duet between Meat Loaf and backup singer Ellen Foley that detailed Meat’s attempts to get laid while parked out by the lake with his 17 year old girlfriend. Foley was replaced by another backup singer, Karla DeVito, for the video and subsequent tour. Foley popped up rather unexpectedly a few years later on the Harry Anderson sitcom Night Court, before being replaced by Markie Post after the first season.
This live performance of Paradise is from The Old Grey Whistle Test, a British rock show most notable for their insistence on live music rather than lip synching, which was great but they also didn’t use a studio audience so the performances can come off flat. Not so here, Meat and Karla really belt it out and don’t skimp on the theatrics. It’s amazing that this song turned a sweaty fat guy into a sex symbol but for a while he was the hottest thing going.
Meat Loaf’s career was derailed by problems with his voice, a falling out with Jim Steinman and various other maladies. He eventually reconciled with Steinman for 1993’s Bat Out Of Hell 2, which picked up right where the first one left off and sold nearly as many copies.
Meat Loaf is still around, mostly acting in movies and TV, including a recent guest spot on Glee. He also had a rather memorable turn on Celebrity Apprentice, unleashing one of the most epic explosions of rage ever seen on reality TV when he thought Gary Busey stole his art supplies. The video is jerky and out of synch to avoid the copyright police but trust me, it’s worth sticking with it:
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