Obituary

Songwriter's record, Bat Out Of Hell, was tremendous hit

NEW YORK • American composer Jim Steinman who worked with artistes like Meat Loaf, Celine Dion and Bonnie Tyler, died on Monday in Danbury, Connecticut. He was 73.

Steinman's long-time manager, Mr David Sonenberg, announced the death.

He said that Steinman had a stroke four years ago and that his health had recently been declining.

Steinman had a wide-ranging resume that included writing Tyler's 1983 No. 1 hit, Total Eclipse Of The Heart, and serving as composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's lyricist on Whistle Down The Wind (1996).

But his career-defining achievement was Bat Out Of Hell, a record that no major label wanted, but that has now sold tens of millions of copies.

He wrote all the songs on Bat Out Of Hell, Meat Loaf's operatic, teenage-angst-filled 1977 debut album, which remains one of the most successful records of all time.

Although the various lists of the top sellers differ in how they compile the rankings and categorise albums, Bat Out Of Hell routinely lands near the top of any such list, along with albums like late singer Michael Jackson's Thriller and rock band The Eagles' Their Greatest Hits and Hotel California.

Appearing at a time when disco and punk were in vogue, Bat Out Of Hell was defiantly different.

It contained only seven songs, all of them heavy on drama and influenced by the opera music Steinman had loved since he was a boy.

Bat Out Of Hell sold slowly at first, but eventually took off, propelled by Meat Loaf's exhaustive touring and some favourable radio play in a few markets.

It was one of Steinman's earliest successes, and it had recently come full circle in a sense. Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical, a stage production written by Steinman, opened in Manchester, England, in 2017.

Meat Loaf and Steinman collaborated again on Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, a 1993 album that yielded another Meat Loaf hit, I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That).

Among many other songs, Steinman also wrote It's All Coming Back To Me Now, a Top 10 hit for Dion in 1996.

His works tended to be vivid in their imagery and heavy on drama.

"Most people don't like extremes," he once said. "Extremes scare them. I start at 'extreme' and go from there."

Some detractors called his songs schlocky, but not Meat Loaf, 73.

"Every Jim Steinman song is alive," he told The Lancashire Telegraph of England in 2016, when Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical was preparing to open.

"It's not just pen on a piece of paper. It lives, it walks around, it haunts you, and it'll eat at your heart and soul."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2021, with the headline 'Songwriter's record, Bat Out Of Hell, was tremendous hit'. Subscribe