Meat Loaf is remembered by Portsmouth Guildhall's boss as the legendary rock star dies aged 74

Portsmouth Guildhall’s boss has fondly recalled the time he met rock legend Meat Loaf.

Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:40 pm

The singer, known for hits like Bat Out Of Hell and I’d Do Anything For Love, has died at the age of 74, his family has announced.

The Guildhall’s CEO Andy Grays first saw the star on his 1984 Bad Attitude tour in Leicester while he was a student in the city.

A big rock fan, Andy said: ‘I was first turned on to Meat Loaf by his single Dead Ringer For Love, I was hooked. And from there I worked back to Bat Out of Hell. His voice – it was so over the top, I’d never heard anything like it.

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US singer Meatloaf arrives for The Brit Awards 2010 at Earls Court in London. Picture by Ben Stansall /AFP via Getty Images

‘He was marvellous, what I hadn't appreciated was that he would act every song out live on stage – there was no direct talking to the audience, it was performing to the audience. It was almost rock performance theatre.

By 1987 Andy was house manager at the 3,500-capacity Manchester Apollo.

Andy said: ‘The manager was a guy called Paul Latham who went on to head up Live Nation in the UK, and I was his number two there.

‘Paul decided that every time an artist would sell out there, we'd give them a little trophy, which were called Paulies. You'd go take a picture with them have a chat, give them the Paulie – and these became quite well known in the industry.’

Andy Grays, chief executive of the Guildhall Trust. Picture: Keith Woodland (140821-88)

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Andy recalls meeting Meat Loaf vividly when he sold out the Apollo on his 1987 world tour.

‘We went into the dressing room. He was a man mountain, and he was wearing the most extraordinary red jumper.

‘He was incredibly nice – not only did he accept the Paulie and have his picture taken, and often that would be the end of it, but he then sat us down and he reminisced with us about playing Manchester on previous tours. Then he invited us to come down to the NEC as his guests the next night.

‘I didn't realise at the time but he'd been dropped by his record label, so he'd decided to focus on touring.

‘I think he realised that the live performance and the direct connection to the fans, that would let him go on to achieve what he did with Bat Out of Hell II.

‘He stayed in the public eye through the sheer strength of his live performance.

‘I hope his legacy will go on – people still want to hear that music and those songs, as is demonstrated by the number of tribute acts out there.’

A post on Meat Loaf’s official Facebook page, released this morning, said the star’s wife Deborah was at his side.

It read: ‘Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side. Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.

‘His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 million albums worldwide and star in more than 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World.

‘Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time.’

The post added: ‘We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man. We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time.

‘From his heart to your souls… don’t ever stop rocking!’

The singer, whose real name was Michael Lee Aday, has sold 65 million albums worldwide, with the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy among his most popular.

In 2016 he was honoured with the Hero Award at the annual Q Awards music ceremony, which he dedicated to everyday heroes and called on people to ‘bring love back into this world’.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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