In the ’70s, city kids across America got the jump on the rest of us by falling into “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and discovering Meat Loaf ahead of the curve.
On the screen, Marvin Lee Aday lights up that ultimate cult film, and did so before he exploded on the radio with the blockbuster LP “Bat Out Hell,” which is how the rest of America picked up on the singular talent that was Marvin Lee Aday.
This was power pop at its most melodic, songs by Jim Steinman, singing by the burly big man with the bigger voice.
He didn’t know it at the time, but he was inspiring and setting the stage for young Jack Black, the comic, singer and comic singing star of Tenacious D.
Black repaid his idol for letting him know that you didn’t have to be svelte and to be a star with a role in his 2006 movie, “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” which is when I caught up with him for a little interview, posted below.
One of a kind, who inspired another one of a kind behind him. Yes, he died of complications from COVID, per TMZ. And yes, he was outspoken and anti-Vax, anti-mask mandates. Still, Rest in peace, Loaf.
That belting voice, the bombast, the beef — Meat Loaf and Jack Black,
think of them as two burly peas in a pod. If there’s one guy Jack
Black seems to aspire to be, it’s Meat Loaf. It’s as obvious as his
entire music (side) career, his posing, howling histrionics as
frontman for rock parodists Tenacious D.
And when Black needed a man to play his dad in his dream rock opera,
“Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny,” the call went out to the Loaf.
“He’s been bugging me to do this for five years,” Meat Loaf says of
the film, in which he plays a singing, judgmental preacher-dad to “JB”
(Black). “But then, I’d wanted Jack to play me in the VH-1 movie about
Black says that Meat Loaf “inspired me with his brand of theatrical
genius, and I’m going to look like him when I’m older.”
And yes, the big/big-voiced rocker, famed for theatrical hit singles
and epic stage shows, did see the resemblance.
“We’re both actors. We’re both musicians. All those rock-star posters
that get ripped down in the movie? I’ve got something in common, done
a tour or a show, with just about all of them.
“And Jack and I are both high-energy. We’re both into The Who. That’s
who I modeled myself after, Roger Daltrey and The Who.”
There’s a Who thread that runs through Black’s Tenacious D tunes, and
even his turn as a rock-obsessed substitute teacher in School of Rock.
Who guitarist Pete Townshend’s “power slide” — when a guitar player
takes a running start and slides, on his knees, across the stage, in
concert — plays a part in the training scenes of JB in Tenacious D in
the Pick of Destiny.
Black wrote Meat Loaf a song about rock ‘n’ roll being Satan’s music,
“and I cut that thing in about 15 minutes. Perfect song for me. His
songs tell stories. So do mine,” Meat Loaf says.
“It was a perfect fit. My grandfather was a minister. I mean, I went
to church school when I went to college. I could’ve been a TV
evangelist. I think I would’ve done well at it. But then, you go
straight to the dark place when you do that, don’t you?”
Tenacious D is about stocky, rock-obsessed acoustic guitarists Kyle
Gass and Jack Black, the myth of how they came together as a band
named Tenacious D, and a satanic guitar pick they need to reach the
heights of rock stardom. It assumes a sort of shared rock knowledge,
its legends, its excesses and its cliches, in its audience.
“The people who go see this are not your Aida fans,” Meat Loaf jokes.
“Is he making fun of me? I don’t think so. I don’t think of myself as
‘arena rock.’ I saw Def Leppard. Saw Bon Jovi once. I think I’m on the
rock side of the equation, but not that hair-band, arena-rock thing
that Jack’s going after here. I’ve done Monsters of Rock shows with
guys like Dio [who’s in the movie].”
Philip Dodd’s The Book of Rock describes Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee
Aday, as “Pavarotti-and-then-some,” and that pretty much sums him up.
A singer and actor since the stage version of Hair, a scene-stealer in
1975’s cult hit, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, he was famous for his
acting before the music thing took off.
And it did. He’s on tour right this minute with the third installment
in his Bat Out of Hell albums. Now 59, he’s pushing his new CD,
“playing arenas again.”
Which he’s more than happy to do.
“It’s not about waving to the girls in the front row, blowing kisses.
It’s about delivering the message. That’s what rock is. As long as the
movie does that, too, I’m happy with it.”