Big. Grand. Epic. Even those words don’t seem to do Meat Loaf’s breakthrough album Bat Out Of Hell justice. Today (10/21) in 1977, this mammoth album was released.
From the bombastic vocal performance from Meat Loaf himself, to the incredible list of people who had a hand in making this album happen (Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg, Edgar Winter, Todd Rundgren and even Phil Rizzuto’s memorable play-by-play call on “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”), these nine songs written by Jim Steinman are the perfect examples of rock at its over-the-top best…
…And the album almost didn’t see the light of day.
Countless labels rejected the album but it was eventually released on Cleveland International (a subsidiary of Epic Records), even the brass at Epic weren’t thrilled about the album at first.
The U.K. program The Old Grey Whistle Test aired a performance of “Bat Out Of Hell,” which led to Bat Out Of Hell’s massive success on the U.K. charts. Meat Loaf’s role in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ played a role in the album’s succss in the US. Meat Loaf explains how he was able to use “Rocky Horror’s” burgeoning popularity — by running the video for “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” — to help boost the album’s fortunes:
“It was a stepping stone, and it was a really good one, not from doing the film so much as the fact that when ‘Bat Out of Hell’ came out, (‘Rocky Horror’ producer) Lou Adler, who is a very good friend of mine… He allowed, because I wanted to shoot a video for ‘Bat’ and this is five or six years before MTV or VH1 even thought about being in existence. They said, ‘What are we gonna do with them?’ So I called up Lou and I said, ‘Lou, if I give you a video can I use it as the trailer?’ And he goes, ‘Well, I’m not gonna sit here and say ‘Yes.’ I need to see it.’ And I said, ‘Acceptable.’ So I’m back and I lied to CBS; I said, ‘Lou Adler says he’ll run one of the songs as a trailer to ‘The Rocky Horror Show’…In 1977 and ’78 that thing was across the country, theaters were packed everywhere, and Lou used ‘Paradise By the Dashboard Light’ as the trailer to ‘Rocky Horror.'”
After that, the United States followed suit, and the rest is history. In the years since its release, Bat Out Of Hell has sold over 43 million copies worldwide, with 17 million sold in the U.S. alone.
Not bad for an album that pretty much no label wanted in the first place.
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock reporter who never leaves home without her iPod, because to her, there’s something very comforting about carrying around every piece of music she’s ever owned in her life.