SINGING legend Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 – reportedly after catching Covid.
Born Marvin Lee Aday in Texas, he shot to fame with his powerful, wide-ranging voice and enjoyed a stellar career spanning six decades.
Sources have reportedly told TMZ the singer cancelled a business dinner earlier this week after becoming seriously ill with Covid.
It is unclear whether Meat Loaf was vaccinated.
The star sold millions of albums worldwide, with the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy among his most popular musical offerings.
He was honoured with the Hero Award at the annual Q Awards music ceremony in 2016, which he dedicated to everyday heroes and called on people to "bring love back into this world".
In a heartbreaking tribute posted on the star's official Facebook page, it was revealed he passed away on Thursday night with wife Deborah Gillespie by his side.
The statement reads: "Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side.
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"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 over 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.
"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!"
🔵 Read our Meat Loaf live blog for the latest updates on his death
The rock veteran had been plagued with health issues and rumours that he was dying ever since he collapsed onstage in June 2016 and had appeared in a number of interviews with slurred speech, with even Katie Price telling him she thought he had died.
He was forced to deny he'd passed away.
But he did have back surgery nearly two months prior to remove a cyst on his back – and he explained what was going on.
“Listen, I am not dying. After three months of therapy I will be fine. I am sick of talking about it. I don’t want to talk about it from now on,” he said.
"And anyone else who asks me the question, I’m not going to respond to it.”
In 2012, Meat Loaf claimed dying on stage would be the "best thing" that could happen to him.
"I’ll die for ya," he said in an interview with Tinnitist.
"I literally will die for an audience. The best thing that could ever happen to me is that I die onstage.
"Because then I’m dying doing what I love. I hate to cut us off but I gotta go."
Meat Loaf was last pictured on stage on March 27 last year when he performed with country artist John Rich at Redneck Riviera in Nashville.
The singer's cause of death has not yet been revealed.
The rock star was born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Texas, in 1947, forming his first band Meat Loaf Soul in the 1960s and legally changing his name to Michael Lee Aday.
He had the nickname Meat Loaf since he was a child and kept it when he went on stage.
In 2016 he told Oprah he was "born bright red" and his father called him Meat because he "looked like nine and a half pounds of ground chuck.”
The second part reportedly came when he was 13 and accidentally stepped on his sports coach, who yelled: “Get off my foot, you hunk of meat loaf!”
Meat Loaf's colourful career saw him not only wow fans with his music, but also with his theatrics as he appeared in more than 50 movies and television shows – including the 1997 film Spice World.
He shot to worldwide fame in 1977 with Bat Out Of Hell, which became an international success that reigns as one of the best-selling albums in history.
The singer went on to enjoy a stunning singing career – with an estimated 200,000 copies of Bat Out of Hell still flying off the shelves annually.
Meat Loaf initially made his name in theatre productions, including a Broadway run of Hair, and then found his feet in the stage and film versions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, playing Eddie, the ex-delivery man and partial brain donor to Rocky.
At the same time, he began Bat Out Of Hell – which featured the eponymous classic Paradise By The Dashboard Light and Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad – with composer Jim Steinman.
Although rejected by every major label, it was released in 1977 to huge international success.
His follow-ups failed to set fans alight until he made a blazing comeback with Bat Out Of Hell's sequel 16 years later in 1993.
Lead single I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) reached number one in 28 countries and earned him a Grammy award.
He followed up with 1995's Welcome To The Neighbourhood, which went platinum in the UK and US, and his third Bat Out Of Hell album, The Monster Is Loose, in 2006.
The Bat Out Of Hell trilogy was also adapted into a stage musical, which was written by Steinman and featured some of the musician's best-loved hits.
The star sold more than 80million records worldwide, earning Brit Awards in 1994 for best-selling album and single.
Meat Loaf went on to describe himself as a "perfect monster" during his early years in an interview with Grunge, as he'd trash dressing room and throw mic stands at his band and at fans.
But Meat Loaf in a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed he "never to be a rock & roll star" and instead wanted to instead play professional football.
The international legend even adopted Hartlepool FC as his favourite football club after knowing he'd be asked which team he supported during a chat on Sky Sports' Saturday morning show Soccer AM in 2003.
Speaking to Setanta Sports News about his infatuation with the team, he said: ”I started asking ‘what would be a really odd team for me to say that I root for?` The person who I was talking to said Hartlepool. Fantastic!
”I looked them up, I looked at their record, I went on the internet, looked at their ground.
”I do look and see ‘did Hartlepool win? Yeah! OK!”
”My favourite story of Hartlepool is the monkey that washed ashore that they hung because they thought it was a Frenchman. I said ‘any team that will hang a monkey and think it`s a Frenchman I`m rooting for.` That`s it. That`s the bottom line.”
Meat Loaf married Canadian Deborah Gillespie, his second wife, in 2007 – splitting their time between LA and Texas.
He met his first wife Leslie Edmonds, then a secretary for Bearsville Records in New York – and the pair married after only about a month in 1979.
Bat Out of Hell producer Todd Rundgren told Billboard the rocker popped the question by presenting Leslie with "a giant whole salmon. And it was as if a bear had proposed to his mate. Instead of a ring, a salmon."
Meat Loaf had two daughters with Leslie – TV actress Amanda Aday and adopted daughter Pearl – before they divorced in 2001.
Tragically, Meat Loaf's mum died of cancer when he was still a teen in 1966.
He once revealed his alcoholic dad Orvis tried to kill him with a butcher’s knife after soon after the funeral.
The star's life was plagued by health issues, including asthma, which caused him to collapse on stage during a concert in Pittsburgh in 2011.
He suffered from a medical condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White, which causes an irregular heartbeat, and underwent surgery in 2003 in London.
Meat Loaf reunited with Steinman for the fourth time for his last studio album Braver Than We Are, which was released in 2016 and reached fourth place in the UK album charts.
Despite his health battles, he continued to act around his music career – most notably as Robert "Bob" Paulson in David Fincher's Fight Club in 1999 and with a cameo in the Spice Girls' Spice World film.
In 2020, the legend declared he was going vegan for Veganuary in a bid to help the planet – but refused to rebrand himself as Veg Loaf for the month as part of a Frankie & Benny's campaign.
He had been vegetarian for 11 years, but returned to a meat diet after health reasons forced him to lose weight.
Self-confessed "sex God" Meat Loaf also boasted about being able to bag the "best looking women" as he revealed he had a "three-way make out" during his school days in a chat with the Mail.
Over the years, he has even given conflicting accounts about where he was on the day US President John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Talking in 2006 on the Howard Stern Show, he wildly claimed he and his friends got pulled over by Secret Service agents who commandeered their car "to drive to the hospital."
But in the book Like a Bat Out of Hell, author Mick Wall said the singer and his pals drove to the hospital on their own where they supposedly saw Jackie Kennedy still in her "blood-spattered pink suit" emerge from a limo.
In another apparent anecdote, Meat Loaf wrote in his autobiography picked up notorious murderer Charles Manson as he hitchhiked without realising it.
Less than two months before his death, he posted a message to fans about his comeback on a new TV show.
The rock legend was about to start filming a dating series – due to air on ITV – named after his hit song I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) and was also set to go back in to the music studio this month to record tracks for a new EP.
In his last post Facebook on November 29 – while still recovering from his latest painful back surgery – he wrote excitedly about his non-stop schedule.
It included new appearances on Cameo, an app where fans can buy personalised videos from celebrities.
Meat Loaf said: "YES KIDS IT'S TRUE…. I am back on Cameo for all of December and till January the 3rd.
"We start recording on the 5th. Hoping the TV show will start up in March.
"Love You, God Bless, Be Well, and most of all Stay Safe. Meat."
Piers Morgan was among those mourning the late rock legend, writing on Twitter: "RIP Meat Loaf, 74.
"One of rock music’s all-time great characters whose seminal iconic album Bat Out Of Hell is one of the biggest-selling records in history.
"A wondrously talented, flamboyant, funny, outrageous and rebellious chameleon. Sad news."
Singer Cher said she had "so much fun" with Meat Loaf when she worked with him on his 1981 album Dead Ringer.
In a tribute posted to Twitter, she added: "Am Very Sorry For His Family, Friends, & Fans.
"Am I imagining It, or Are Amazing Ppl In The Arts Dying every other Day."
Culture Club star Boy George tweeted: "R.I.P Meatloaf. Love and prayers to all his family and close friends.
"He once turned me upside down in a Chinese Restaurant in St Johns Wood."
Actor Stephen Fry described him as "simultaneously frightening and cuddle" in a touching tribute.
He tweeted: "I hope paradise is as you remember it from the dashboard light, Meat Loaf.
"Had a fun time performing a sketch with him on Saturday Live way back in the last century.
"He had the quality of being simultaneously frightening and cuddly, which is rare and rather wonderful."
And Andrew Lloyd Webber has said the "vaults of heaven will be ringing with rock" following the death of Meat Loaf.
The composer said: "The vaults of heaven will be ringing with rock.
"RIP Meatloaf. Give my best to Jim (Steinman)."
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