Jim Steinman has died. He was 73. He is best known for his collaboration with Meat Loaf, he is the writer of the albums Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell. In total he wrote four albums for Meat Loaf, and there were certainly hits on 1981’s Dead Ringer too but it’s the original Bat album for which he is best known.
Coming from musical theatre, Steinman was a composer and lyricist, a keyboardist, sometime producer and most definitely a musical arranger. He brought the pomp to Meat Loaf’s sound – and his signature power-ballad songwriting wasn’t hard to sniff out. That’s him behind the Air Supply song, Making Love Out of Nothing At All. That’s also him behind Celine Dion’s epic It’s All Coming Back To Me Now. And if you ever thought that Bonnie Tyler’s songs Total Eclipse of the Heart and Holding On For A Hero sounded a bit like Female Meat Loaf, well, that would be because those are both Steinman songs too.
Steinman’s solo album from 1981, Bad For Good, might actually be the second greatest Meat Loaf album. It’s Steinman on most lead vocals, keys and co-producing and it features a few really great songs, most notably Rock And Roll Dreams – Meat would eventually cover it; a few songs from this would be re-created for Bat II.
Steinman’s music didn’t figure in my life for long but for a while there it loomed large. I was in awe of his storytelling – he seemed to take the book from Rocky Horror and rewrite it for bar-room rock’n’roll. It was time and place music. For me that place was Hawke’s Bay and the time was the early 1990s.
But he was one crucial hand in one of the great classic rock albums. And I always wanted to get his story. You see I interviewed Meat Loaf (twice) and also spoke with Todd Rundgren. Both conversations covered their contributions to Bat Out Of Hell and spoke (fondly and otherwise) about Steinman and his heavy lifting. It was a hope that I’d one day get to hear from him as well. But now that is not to be.
R.I.P. Jim Steinman