Fond memories of my hour with Meat Loaf

With the passing of Meat Loaf, we have lost another piece of our cherished collective youth.

Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf

Who could possibly ever forget the excitement of hearing Bat Out Of Hell – one of the best-selling albums of all time – for the first time.

We clustered around it. It was epic. It was operatic. It was overblown. It was magnificent. It was Meat Loaf.

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And as we digest the news that he is no longer with us, I look back fondly on my own 15 minutes with Meat Leaf – a 15 minutes that turned into an hour.

He was playing Sussex. I can’t remember where. I guess it must have been Brighton. And I was given a phone number to ring and he would be there.

It has always felt odd that a combination of numbers can somehow conjure up a rock star, but there he was, and, boy, was he chatty.

I remember him speaking in quite a monotone and speaking in detail. And the great memory of our chat was his insistence on the sheer hard work, the sheer slog of creating those great songs.

He repeated it. It was a quest for perfection. Musical magic didn’t just happen. You worked at it and you worked at it and then you worked at it some more.

The music blows you away with its power, its fluency, its seeming effortlessness, its flow – but behind the apparent spontaneity is layer upon layer of work.

And that’s the thing about great art, isn’t it. Great art disguises the effort behind it.

Meat Loaf was a fascinating interviewee, talkative and friendly – and then my time was up. I thanked him and put the phone down.

I had had my allotted time and besides I had another interview that I needed to do straight afterwards.

I paused for thought and picked up the phone ready to dial up a comedian who was playing Chichester.

Except that I couldn’t make the call.

I picked up the phone and there were voices on the line. The line hadn’t cleared. I was still connected. One voice was Meat Loaf’s – the other was his next interviewer.

It was the classic dilemma. I put the phone down. What do I do?

I needed to make my next call. I picked up the phone – and there was Meatloaf telling another journalist about the quest for perfection which lay behind his records…

What do I do?

Do I say “Excuse me, Mr Loaf, but could you disconnect me?”

Mr Loaf was our in joke. My wife Fiona proved she was truly a librarian’s daughter when as a teenager when she went into a record shop and tried to find Meat Loaf under L!

But no, I wimped out.

You can’t cut a rock idol off in mid-flow!

Instead, every few minutes for the next 45, I picked up the phone to check. One voice remained constant, Meat Loaf. His audience was a changing cast of journalists.

Finally, finally, an hour later, Meat Loaf had gone and I was able to make my next call.

I didn’t see the funny side of it then, but I certainly do now….

An amusing memory now layered with sadness.

Meat Loaf, rest in peace.