Meat Loaf is an acquired taste. Not the food, most everybody has an affinity for the delectable dish. The singer of the same auspicious moniker however has not always been so universally well received. There are generally two schools of opinion regarding the compelling entertainer, people either love him or don’t get him. But the fact remains Meat Loaf ushered in a new brand of rock music. With his groundbreaking 1977 album “Bat Out of Hell”, Meat combined his background of theater with his powerhouse vocals to create a unique and provocative sound. The album spawned several hit boisterous ballads such as “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”. Its style has been characterized as an “amalgam of hard rock and Broadway-style bombast”. The formula has often been imitated but never duplicated. At last count, “Bat Out of Hell” has sold north of 50 million copies.
Meat Loaf was born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Texas in 1947. By the mid-70s, he had performed in several renowned stage musicals including “Hair” on Broadway. He also starred as biker Eddie in the theater and film versions of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. 1977 marked the year that Meat and his collaborator, composer extraordinaire Jim Steinman, released “Bat Out of Hell” on a subsidiary of Epic Records. The album was not an immediate hit. The marketplace did not grasp the album’s unusual concept which Music critic Stephen Erlewine called “epic, gothic, operatic, and silly.” Fans eventually caught on though, making Meat a huge star and “Bat Out of Hell” one of the highest selling albums of all time. Sadly, Meat Loaf died on January 20, 2022. He was 74 years old.
Throughout his fabulous career, Meat thrilled audiences on recordings, stage productions and in feature films such as “Fight Club”. Pop icon and Meat Loaf recording partner Bonnie Tyler said he was “a larger than life character with a voice & stage presence to match and is one of those rare people who truly was a one-off talent and personality.” Above all tough, Meat was a storyteller. His songs were stories and he sung as his characters. He even referred to himself as “the Robert De Niro of rock”. But his storytelling abilities extended past his stage persona. Meat Loaf loved to tell stories about his own life. One of his most famous details his unlikely involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
For those not familiar, John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the Unites States, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. The President’s airplane arrived at Dallas’ Love Field shortly after 11:30 am on that fateful day. After embarking on a predetermined route, Kennedy was shot to death while traveling in his motorcade. Per the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the following summation is the true sequence of events: “Crowds of excited people lined the streets and waved to the Kennedys. The car turned off Main Street at Dealey Plaza around 12:30 p.m. As it was passing the Texas School Book Depository, gunfire suddenly reverberated in the plaza. Bullets struck the president’s neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy. The governor was shot in his back.
“The car sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital just a few minutes away. But little could be done for the President. A Catholic priest was summoned to administer the last rites, and at 1:00 p.m. John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead. Though seriously wounded, Governor Connally would recover. The president’s body was brought to Love Field and placed on Air Force One. Before the plane took off, a grim-faced Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the tight, crowded compartment and took the oath of office, administered by US District Court Judge Sarah Hughes. The brief ceremony took place at 2:38 p.m.
“Less than an hour earlier, police had arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a recently hired employee at the Texas School Book Depository. He was being held for the assassination of President Kennedy and the fatal shooting, shortly afterward, of Patrolman J. D. Tippit on a Dallas street. On Sunday morning, November 24, Oswald was scheduled to be transferred from police headquarters to the county jail. Viewers across America watching the live television coverage suddenly saw a man aim a pistol and fire at point blank range. The assailant was identified as Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner. Oswald died two hours later at Parkland Hospital”. The assassination of John F. Kennedy is one of the seminal events of the twentieth century. The ensuing murder of Oswald continues to fuel conspiracy to this day.
According to Dan Reilly at vulture.com, “There are a few versions of Meat’s story about his proximity to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The story starts out with Meat being at the airport when JFK arrived in Dallas, while another version has the Secret Service commandeering his car after the shooting, while another has him arriving at the hospital where Kennedy was taken and seeing the First Lady Jacqueline ‘Jackie’ Kennedy in her blood-soaked dress. Later, he said that his father knew more about the shooting than the official version, thanks to his background in law enforcement: ‘It definitely wasn’t Lee Harvey Oswald — and that’s not my theory, I just know things. But I can’t say anymore. I’ve been threatened, so I’ve got to keep very quiet. I didn’t see the assassination, but I was at the hospital when he [JFK] got there.’”
In a July 2006 interview with Howard Stern, Meat Loaf further expounded upon the events of November 22, 1963. Summary of interview per Howard Stern Show archives: “Howard said Meat claimed he knew who shot John F. Kennedy, but he replied that wasn’t exactly the case. Meat then recalled he was in Dallas on the day of the assassination, and when one of his friends, who was able to shake the president’s hand that morning, asked a police officer who was standing nearby what he would’ve done had he been carrying a gun, the officer responded ‘nothing as long as you didn’t take it out.’ Meat next reported he and his friends were driving through the city following the shooting, and a Secret Service agent pulled them over and confiscated his car to drive to the hospital.
Talking with Stern, “Meat went on to say he and his friends were instructed to remain in the car, which he said they did for two hours until Kennedy’s body arrived, and the Secret Service agent left them. Meat proceeded to claim, a decade later, he asked someone at a party who killed Kennedy, and he was warned never to ask that question again because he might bring it up to the wrong person”. The World Entertainment News Network also contributed the following: “The ‘Bat Out of Hell’ singer has revealed that his father Wesley Aday – a policeman – knew supposed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer Jack Ruby”.
It is apparent that Meat was prone to exaggeration, but his differing accounts may also be explained by prolific substance abuse and a history of brain trauma. In the end, all that really matters are what he believes are his memories. In September of 2021, Meat Loaf gave one of his final interviews regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Upon his death, fellow rock legend and friend Alice Cooper stated, “Meat Loaf was one of the greatest voices in rock ‘n’ roll…There was nobody, and I mean nobody like Meat Loaf.” Despite his fondness for hyperbole, Meat was an American original and a revolutionary artist. His recollection concerning the assassination of President Kennedy may have differed over the years, but it still makes for a great story. And though both men are no longer with us, they will always live on in our souls, and they will always remain in our hearts. Two out of three ain’t bad.