Last week, we posted an emotional interview with Meat Loaf where he reflected on his history with the late songwriter Jim Steinman. “Since I met Jim, he has been the centerpiece to my life,” the singer said. “And I was always the centerpiece of his.”
The interview goes all the way back to their first meeting at New York’s Public Theater in 1973 before moving into the creation of their 1977 masterpiece Bat Out of Hell, the difficult years that followed, their shocking comeback in 1993 with Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, and the severe health issues that marked Steinman’s final years.
Very little attention was paid to the 2006 LP Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose. “I couldn’t say this before, but he was going to do Bat Out of Hell III with me before he got sick,” Meat Loaf says. “He was sick a lot longer than people knew. It was at least 13 years ago that he had a stroke. He had open-heart surgery, triple bypass, and he just couldn’t do Bat III.”
But Bat III still happened thanks to the help of producer Desmond Child and a collection of vintage Steinman songs that were written for past projects, including a Batman musical that never got off the ground and Steinman’s 1981 solo LP Bad for Good. The lead single was “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” a Steinman-penned tune that was a massive hit for Celine Dion in 1996. Check out the video for the Meat Loaf spin on the song, which he cut as a duet with Marion Raven.
Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose sold significantly better than Meat Loaf’s non-Bat albums, but it was still a commercial disappointment when compared to the first two Bat albums. And in 2016, Meat Loaf told Rolling Stone that he regretted making it in the first place.
“I’m not gonna get into the political aspects of Bat Out of Hell III,” he said. “I wanted to strangle somebody, but not Jimmy, trust me. There is no Bat Out of Hell III. That should have never happened. To me, that record is nonexistent. It doesn’t exist.”
The “political aspects” he mentions refer to an epic legal battle between the Meat Loaf camp and the Steinman camp over the Bat Out of Hell trademark. “We never sued each other, no matter what people write,” Meat told us last week. “It’s a fuckin’ lie to say otherwise. I never sued Jim. Jim never sued me. Our managers sued each other. But my heart never sued Jim. And I know Jim’s heart never sued me.”
The duo worked together one last time on the 2016 LP Braver Than We Are, though by that point Steinman was in very poor health and they once again had to raid his archives for material. Complicating matters further was the state of Meat Loaf’s voice, which had lost much of its range due to Meat’s own health issues. “Meat Loaf is heroic in his ravaged voice,” Steinman wrote at the time, “tragically heroic.”
Braver Than We Are generated even less public interest than Bat Out of Hell III, but it allowed them to end their partnership on their own terms. Sadly, Meat hasn’t been able to tour in the past five years due to his medical issues. “I don’t want to die, but I may die this year because of Jim,” he recently told Rolling Stone. “I’m always with him and he’s right here with me now. I’ve always been with Jim and Jim has always been with me.”