Meat Loaf reflected on his nearly 50-year relationship with friend and collaborator Jim Steinman, who died Monday at the age of 73, in a new interview.

The Bat Out of Hell singer met Steinman in 1973 while auditioning for the musical Steinman had written, More Than You Deserve. “I sang a Motown-style song called ‘(I’d Love to Be) As Heavy as Jesus,’” Meat Loaf told Rolling Stone. “I didn’t know him. He didn’t know me. But when I was done, he walked by me and said, ‘By the way, you’re as heavy as two Jesuses.’”

Steinman and New York’s Public Theater head Joe Papp promptly invited Meat Loaf to take part in the More Than You Deserve preview showcase. “When we started, we only played to about 100 people a night,” Meat Loaf said. “When I sang Jim’s song, everyone stood on their feet and went crazy. That happened every night, all week. By the end, I was going, ‘Maybe I should work with this guy Steinman. People tell me I can sing, but I’ve never sang like that.’”

The duo continued collaborating for the next several years, working on the Rockabye Hamlet musical and performing in the National Lampoon road show. Simultaneously, they conceived songs that would appear on Meat Loaf’s 1977 debut album, Bat Out of Hell.

“People kept saying, ‘Listen, this guy Steinman, you can’t be with him. You’re too good,’” Meat Loaf recalled. “They wanted me to go with [Ted] Nugent and REO Speedwagon, all these people. I went, ‘Stop it! This is not happening! I’m not leaving Jim!’ They go, ‘Then you’ll never make a record.’”

Meat Loaf and Steinman stuck to their guns and clearly had the last laugh. Bat Out of Hell became an enormous success, selling 14 million copies in the United States alone and spawning the FM rock staples “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” Its 1993 sequel, Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, topped the Billboard 200 and sold an additional 5 million copies in the U.S.

Meat Loaf paid tribute to Steinman earlier this week with two Facebook posts, the latter of which read, “Jim will always live in my heart and my soul. I will miss you.”

Steinman also recalled being bowled over by Meat Loaf during their first meeting. "From the minute he walked in, I was stunned," the songwriter said in a 2003 interview. "I thought he was astonishing. He's just one of those people who walks in and it's the equivalent of an enormous cat pissing on the door. Just stakes territory immediately."

 

Top 100 '70s Rock Albums