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‘Bat Out of Hell’ Singer Meat Loaf Dies at 74

Meat Loaf, the heavyweight rock superstar loved by millions for his “Bat Out of Hell” album and for such theatrical, dark-hearted anthems as “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” has died. He was 74.

The singer born Marvin Lee Aday died Thursday, according to a family statement provided by his longtime agent Michael Greene.

“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight,” the statement said. “We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man… From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”

No cause or other details were given, but Aday had numerous health scares over the years.

“Bat Out of Hell,” his mega-selling collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman and producer Todd Rundgren, came out in 1977 and made him one of the most recognizable performers in rock. Fans fell hard for the roaring vocals of the long-haired, 250-plus pound singer and for the comic non-romance of the title track, “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” an operatic cautionary tale about going all the way. “Paradise” was a duet with Ellen Foley that featured play by play from New York Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, who alleged — to much skepticism — that he was unaware of any alternate meanings to reaching third base and heading for home.

After a slow start and mixed reviews, “Bat Out of Hell” became one of the top-selling albums in history, with worldwide sales of more than 40 million copies. Meat Loaf wasn’t a consistent hit maker, especially after falling out for years with Steinman. But he maintained close ties with his fans through his manic live shows, social media and his many television, radio and film appearances, including “Fight Club” and cameos on “Glee” and “South Park.”

Friends and fans reacted to the death on social media.

“I hope paradise is as you remember it from the dashboard light, Meat Loaf,” actor Stephen Fry said on Twitter.

Meat Loaf’s biggest musical success after “Bat Out of Hell” was “Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell,” a 1993 reunion with Steinman that sold more than 15 million copies and featured the Grammy-winning single “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

Steinman died in April.

Aday’s other albums included “Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose,” “Hell in a Handbasket” and “Braver Than We Are.”

A native of Dallas, Aday was the son of a school teacher who raised him on her own after divorcing his alcoholic father, a police officer. Aday was singing and acting in high school (Mick Jagger was an early favorite, so was Ethel Merman) and attended Lubbock Christian College and what is now the University of North Texas. Among his more notable childhood memories: Seeing John F. Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, then learning the president had been assassinated and driving to Parkland Hospital and watching a bloodied Jackie Kennedy step out of a car.

He was still a teenager when his mother died and when he acquired the nickname Meat Loaf, the alleged origins of which range from his weight to a favorite recipe of his mother’s. He left for Los Angeles after college and was soon fronting the band Meat Loaf Soul. For years, he alternated between music and the stage, recording briefly for Motown, opening for such acts as the Who and the Grateful Dead and appearing in the Broadway production of “Hair.”

By the mid-1970s, he was playing the lobotomized biker Eddie in the theater and film versions of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” had served as an understudy for his friend John Belushi for the stage production of National Lampoon and had begun working with Steinman on “Bat Out of Hell.” The dense, pounding production was openly influenced by Wagner, Phil Spector and Bruce Springsteen, whose bandmates Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg played on the record. Rundgren initially thought of the album as a parody of Springsteen’s grandiose style.

Steinman had known Meat Loaf since the singer appeared in his 1973 musical “More Than You Deserve” and some of the songs on “Bat Out of Hell,” including “All Revved Up With No Place to Go,” were initially written for a planned stage show based on the story of Peter Pan. “Bat Out of Hell” took more than two years to find a taker as numerous record executives turned it down, including RCA’s Clive Davis, who disparaged Steinman’s songs and acknowledged that he had misjudged the singer: “The songs were coming over as very theatrical, and Meat Loaf, despite a powerful voice, just didn’t look like a star,” Davis wrote in his memoir, “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

With the help of another Springsteen sideman, Steve Van Zandt, “Bat Out of Hell” was acquired by Cleveland International, a subsidiary of Epic Records. The album made little impact until months after its release, when a concert video of the title track was aired on the British program the Old Grey Whistle Test. In the U.S., his connection to “Rocky Horror” helped when he convinced producer Lou Adler to use a video for “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” as a trailer for the cult movie. But Meat Loaf was so little known at first that he began his “Bat Out of Hell” tour in Chicago as the opening act for Cheap Trick, then one of the world’s hottest groups.

“I remember pulling up at the theater and it says, ‘TONIGHT: CHEAP TRICK, WITH MEAT LOAF.’ And I said to myself, ‘These people think we’re serving dinner,'” Meat Loaf explained in 2013 on the syndicated radio show “In the Studio.”

“And we walk out on stage and these people were such Cheap Trick fans they booed us from the start. They were getting up and giving us the finger. The first six rows stood up and screamed. … When we finished, most of the boos had stopped and we were almost getting applause.”

He is survived by Deborah Gillespie, his wife since 2007, and by daughters Pearl and Amanda Aday.

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Brazilian Samba Singer Elza Soares Dies at 91

Elza Soares, one of the most revered singers in Brazilian samba music, died at her home in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, aged 91.

She died of natural causes, her press representative said in a statement. “An icon of Brazilian music, considered one of the best artists in the world, the singer chosen as Voice of the Millennium [by the BBC] had a tremendous, intense life, who moved the world with her voice, her strength and her determination,” said the statement.

Born in a favela slum in Rio de Janeiro to a washerwoman and a factory worker in 1930, Soares rose from poverty to record 36 albums and perform at the 2016 Olympic opening ceremony in Rio.

The mayor of Rio has declared three days of mourning for the legendary singer.

Her raspy voice struck a chord with audiences around the world in concert hall performances of songs that touched on the hardship of life in Rio, justice for women and racism in Brazilian society.

She became a fierce champion of Black feminism and an outspoken voice against violence against women.

“Racism still continues, but we are going to fight it and we will make progress. Racism is a sickness,” Soares told Reuters in an interview last year.

In 1966, Soares married soccer star Mane Garrincha, a striker who helped Brazil win the 1958 and 1962 World Cups along with the legendary Pele.

Their tumultuous 17-year relationship ended when Soares left Garrincha after he struck her during an argument. He died of cirrhosis in 1983. She died on the same day 39 years later. 

 

 

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Teen Pilot One Stop from Finishing Round-the-world Solo Flight

A 19-year-old British-Belgian pilot landed her plane on Wednesday at an airstrip near Frankfurt, Germany, one stop away from becoming the youngest woman to fly around the world solo.

Zara Rutherford told reporters she wanted to “sleep for a week” after she climbed out of the single-seat Shark ultralight aircraft at Egelsbach airfield a few kilometers from Frankfurt. If all goes as planned, Rutherford will land Thursday in Kortrijk, Belgium, where her journey began August 18. 

The nearly 51,500-kilometer journey took her across the Atlantic Ocean, over Iceland and Greenland, and into New York City. Down the U.S. East Coast and the Caribbean to Columbia then back up through Central America and up the U.S. West Coast to Alaska and across the Bering Strait to Russia, south to South Korea, Indonesia, India, the Mideast and back to Europe.

The trip was all the more challenging as she flew without the aid of flight instruments or a pressurized cabin. 

Weather, minor equipment issues and visa problems in Asia set her back from her schedule by several days. But at this point, Rutherford told reporters she is glad to be almost done.

She said her big goal is to use her experience to encourage other young women to go into flying or study science, technology and mathematics “and other fields they might not have thought about.” 

Rutherford plans to go to college next September in either Britain or the United States to study engineering.

If she lands in Belgium as planned Thursday, Rutherford will have broken a record set by American aviator Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 when she set the existing record for the youngest woman to circumnavigate the world solo in 2017. 

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters. 

 

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French Actor Gaspard Ulliel, 37, Dies After Ski Accident

French actor Gaspard Ulliel, known for appearing in Chanel perfume ads as well as film and television roles, died Wednesday after a skiing accident in the Alps, according to his agent’s office. He was 37.

Ulliel portrayed the young Hannibal Lecter in 2007’s “Hannibal Rising” and fashion mogul Yves Saint Laurent in the 2014 biopic “Saint Laurent.” He is also in the upcoming Marvel series “Moon Knight,” and was the advertising face of the Chanel men’s fragrance Bleu de Chanel.

Ulliel was hospitalized Tuesday after the accident in the Savoie region’s Rosiere ski area, the Savoie prosecutor’s office said. The office of the actor’s agent said Ulliel died on Wednesday. It provided no details.

Local broadcaster France Bleu said Ulliel was hospitalized with a skull injury, and that he apparently collided with another skier at a crossing point on the slopes. The other skier was not hospitalized, according to France Bleu. Police and prosecutors would not discuss details of the accident.

Ulliel started in television while still in middle school and went on to win two of France’s top cinema awards, the Cesar. 

Tributes poured in from shocked fans and the corridors of power. French Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted an homage that said, “Gaspard Ulliel grew up with cinema and cinema grew up with him. They loved each other madly.”

The accident conjured up memories of when Formula One great Michael Schumacher hit his head in a ski accident in 2013 in the French ski resort of Meribel, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from where Ulliel was skiingl. Both were treated at Grenoble University Hospital.

Schumacher, 53, has not been seen in public in eight years, and little has been released about his physical and mental condition. The German auto racing legend suffered serious head injuries when he fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock off the side of a demarcated slope. He was skiing with his teenage son while on a family vacation in the Alps.

After Ulliel’s accident, the mountain police service for the Rosiere ski area said its personnel have been carrying out five or six rescues per day as the snow hardened in recent days.

In the neighboring Haute-Savoie region, a 5-year-old girl was killed Saturday when a skier crashed into her. The man was handed preliminary manslaughter charges, according to the Haute-Savoie prosecutor, who cited excessive speed as the likely reason for the accident.

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