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Bat Out Of Hell writer Jim Steinman dead at 73

Jim Steinman in 1981
Jim Steinman in 1981 (Image credit: Terry Lott/Getty Images)

Producer and songwriter Jim Steinman, most famous for his work on Meat Loaf's best-selling Bat Out Of Hell album, has died at the age of 73. 

The news was confirmed by the Connecticut state medical examiner on Monday, although a cause of death has not yet been given. 

A statement was also posted on Steinman's Facebook page, reading, "It's with a heavy heart that I can confirm Jim's passing. There will be much more to say in the coming hours and days as we prepare to honour this giant of a human being and his glorious legacy. 

"For now, do something that makes you feel young, happy and free. He'd want that for you!"

Steinman was born in New York City in 1947, and attended school at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he wrote The Dream Engine, a musical that laid the foundation for much of his later work, including Bat Out Of Hell and Bonnie Tyler's 1983 hit Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

After several years working on the periphery of musical theatre (Bette Midler recorded a version of the the Bat Out Of Hell classic Heaven Can Wait in 1973), Steinman met Meat Loaf during a workshop for The Dream Engine – now titled Neverland – and the two decided to record the project. 

"I never intended to do music, Steinman told Classic Rock. "I didn't think I was a good enough musician. I was gonna do film and theatre, but I figured, 'This is fun, let's do this. I didn't want it to be just a bunch of songs. I wanted it to feel like you were entering a cinematic or complete theatrical environment. No one could deal with it. They couldn't figure out what it would sound like finished."

Bat Out Of Hell was revved up with plenty of places to go. Songs like Paradise By The Dashboard LightTwo Out Of Three Ain't Bad and For Crying Out Loud echoed the textbook teenage view of sex and life: irrepressible physical urges and unrealistic romantic longing, with enough musical bombast to make the outwardly trivial seem entirely epic.

"I was a teenager right when sex was going from being overly repressed in the early 60's to totally free in the 70's and it was very confusing," said Steinman. "Shit, I remember shaking like a leaf the first time I was having sex. Terrified I was doing everything wrong, and a little bit horrified."

"All I can say is that thank God we knew nothing about making albums," he added, because otherwise it couldn't have happened."

Bat Out Of Hell became a classic and a huge commercial success, selling over 50 million copies worldwide and famously spending over 500 weeks on the UK chart. and while neither Meat Loaf or Steinman would ever repeat its success, the two men worked together again on the follow-up, 1981's Dead Ringer, and on Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, released in 1993.

Steinman would go on to work with an array of artists including Bonnie Tyler, Billy Squier, Air Supply, Barry Manilow, Ian Hunter, the Sisters Of Mercy and Def Leppard, on the aborted sessions for what became their Hysteria album.  

Most recently Steinman returned to Bat Out Of Hell, adapting it for his first love, musical theatre. The Neverland songs written for the stage finally ended up where he intended, with two new songs, What Part Of My Body Hurts The Most and Not Allowed To Love, performed alongside classics from Bat Out Of Hell, Dead Ringer and his own Bad For Good.

Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical opened in Manchester, UK, in February 2017, before transferring to London for a successful run at the Coliseum theatre. It went on to win the Best Musical award at the annual Evening Standard Theatre Award ceremony.

Back in 2000 Meat Loaf predicted this would never happen. “It’ll never end up as a stage show,” he said. “It can’t. I mean, it just won’t.”

Steinman had the last laugh. It did.