Wednesday, July 31, 2013 | 2 a.m.
His hit record is “Bat Out of Hell,” but listen to Meat Loaf Aday tell his life story, and it’s more like a journey back from hell. For starters, he’s cheated death several times during his rock ’n’ roll life.
Meat Loaf is the original rock opera king who has survived drugs, a broken marriage, a suicide attempt, band breakups, lawsuits and near bankruptcy. He escaped a near-death car crash, broke his legs jumping offstage, lost his voice and once spent three months locked up in isolation in a Dallas apartment.
Our story about “Rocktellz & Cocktails” was posted July 11. When he debuts at the Planet Hollywood mezzanine theater on Sept. 26, Marvin Lee Aday will tell all of his 35 years in rock ¬— unblemished, brutally candid and starkly honest.
“If there’s a question about me escaping death, I’ll say I’m the cat with nine lives who has used eight of them,” he told me in an interview in advance of him being officially named today as the first rock star of the new, six-weekend run of shows in the format of “Inside the Actors Studio” meets “VH1 Storytellers” conceived by producer Adam Steck (Human Nature at the Venetian, Boyz II Men at the Mirage and Thunder From Down Under at Excalibur).
“Depending on the question, I will explain the other eight.”
Meat Loaf, who performs two shows in England before the start of his Las Vegas run, continued: “Fire away with any question on any subject to do with my life. I won’t blink, and you will get the answers — I promise. … I did ‘Storytellers’ 14 years ago, but this time we have a set list, so I’ll answer every question thrown at me and wind up the answer into one of the songs.”
Meat Loaf was my neighbor in Connecticut when I lived on the East Coast and was a regular at my Boxing Day (Dec. 26) parties. I marveled at him in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in which he played Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott in the live show and Eddie in the film version alongside Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Tim Curry. (I was a guest narrator of the show for a two-week Broadway run — and fell offstage in drag and high heels!)
“Bat Out of Hell” still sells 200,000 copies a year and in the 35 years since its released has racked up nearly 50 million copies worldwide. His albums have sold more than 100 million worldwide, and VH1 ranks him as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
The rocker celebrates his 66th birthday on Sept. 27, the day after he opens his three-shows-a-weekend schedule at Planet Hollywood. He promises to answer questions from the audience about his extraordinary and turbulent life and perform many of his hits in the new series at Planet Hollywood.
On a transatlantic call from Italy to his California home, Meat Loaf told me: “It’s going to be very interesting and different. I can’t give away the show, but I can tell you it’s now all down on paper. It’s funny. It’s a lot of improv in answering the questions, and we have a lot of stuff to throw on the screens.
“I have never seen an artist do something like this before, and I can control it by iPad. I think Steve Jobs at Apple was the only other man who did something like this. This is such a different show that has never been done before. When the audience leaves, they will be euphoric and not quite sure what just happened. I want them to walk out saying, ‘Now that was unbelievable.’ ”
In the bare-all show, one of Meat Loaf’s lesser-known talents might be showcased.
“I’m a closet standup comedian. I make my wife laugh every day, so it will be funny. If the audience asks the right questions, I will tell them the truth, the whole truth, and, at the end of the night, the person with the best question gets a bottle of champagne from me.
“We’ll be doing the songs, but there is no theme to the show. It’s definitely rock, although not a rock show in the traditional sense. … I have the greatest band for this: a 28-year-old piano player and a 38-year-old guitarist who will leave you with your jaw opened wide, You’ll get ‘Bat Out of Hell’ the best way possible.”
Meat Loaf said he’s been going through his 47-year collection of memorabilia. “I want to do a section on acting, so I have been looking for that white tights outfit when I did Shakespeare in ‘Hair’ as a 300-pound guy. We opened the boxes but are still looking.”
The music legend admits to butterflies.
“This is a little nerve-wracking. I wake up nervous most mornings because this won’t be a piece of cake. This won’t be as easy as falling off a log. It’s a tough one, a tricky one making sure all the timing and production work together. I keep thinking it’s like when I understudied for John Belushi in ‘National Lampoon’ and then took over for him, except this has many more moving parts.
“I’m looking forward to it. Explosive? Well come see the show, and, if you ask the right questions, it sure will be.”
The disco show “Dancing Queen” with its salute to ABBA from producer David King also will play in the same theater.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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