The road to stardom is not always paved smoothly.
Just ask Meat Loaf, who was born Marvin Lee Aday but changed his first name to Michael in his adult life.
Born September 27, 1947, the now-73-year-old musician is said to have cheated death many times. After surviving an alcoholic father and a childhood of domestic violence, he experienced health scares, including fainting spells, a reported heart attack and broken bones.
Meat Loaf faced bankruptcy, bust-ups and years of record-company rejection, but he persevered. And today, he's considered one of the greatest and best-selling rock artists of all time.
In fact, his Bat Out of Hell trilogy – Bat Out of Hell, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose – has sold more than 40 million records worldwide. It's been over 40 years since its release, and the first album still sells an estimated 200,000 copies every year.
He's also appeared in over 50 movies and television shows – sometimes as himself, other times as characters resembling his unmatched stage persona.
But there's more to the theatrical (he got his big break after Hair) yet admittedly socially anxious man than meet's a fan's eye, which Michael and those closest to him will unveil in the upcoming REELZ documentary, Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell.
"I think that there's probably an air of mystery and, of course, drama around the fact of, you know, Ellen Foley did the record but she's not on tour," says the Meat Loaf collaborator herself, while the singer with whom she had beef – Karla DeVito – adds, "Ellen and me had had a falling out. I got a call from Jim when they said they needed someone to be the girl in the band."
"First gig is Chicago, opening for Cheap Trick," recalls the band's then-road manager, Sam Ellis.
"And out comes the band with [Bat Out of Hell composer Jim] Steinman and his gloves, banging on the piano," added Bob Kulick, the guitarist on the Bat Out of Hell tour, who sadly passed away in 2020. "The audience was enraged right from the beginning! And then Meat Loaf comes out, and they're like, 'This huge guy in a tuxedo! What is that?!'"
Unforgettable trips down memory lane such as these are among the many that will be taken when Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell debuts on Sunday, May 23 at 9 PM ET/PT on REELZ.
Watch REELZ on DIRECTV 238, Dish Network 299, Verizon FiOS 692, AT&T U-verse 1799 and in HD on cable systems and streaming services nationwide. Find REELZ on your local cable or satellite provider at www.reelz.com.
Rest In Peace, Bob Kulick.