'Bat Out of Hell,' 'Total Eclipse' songwriter and producer Jim Steinman dead at 73

Jim Steinman in 1981 (Photo: Terry Lott/Sony Music Archive via Getty Images)
Jim Steinman in 1981 (Photo: Terry Lott/Sony Music Archive via Getty Images)

Jim Steinman, the best known for his epic and over-the-top work on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II, Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Celine Dion’s “It's All Coming Back to Me Now,” the Sisters of Mercy’s “This Corrosion,” and Air Supply’s "Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” has died. The cause of death has not yet been yet announced, but the Connecticut state medical examiner has confirmed that he suffered a “sudden medical emergency” at his Connecticut home on Monday and later died in the hospital. The legendary Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, record producer, and playwright was 73.

Steinman, whose brand of bombastic, theatrical, Wagnerian rock ‘n’ roll earned him the nickname “Lord of Excess” — a title he proudly used on his own website — was born Nov. 1, 1947 in New York City. He wrote the book, music, and words for his first theatrical production, a dystopian satire called The Dream Engine (which later inspired lyrics and motifs for Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Meat Loaf’s “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth”) while attending Massachusetts’s Amherst College in 1969. He later briefly collaborated with Bette Midler and Yvonne Elliman, but it was a connection he made with a young actor named Marvin Lee Aday, a.k.a. Meat Loaf, while working on his 1973 musical More Than You Deserve that changed both of their lives.

Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf in 1977. (Photo: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)
Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf in 1977. (Photo: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

Meat Loaf’s massive Bat Out of Hell album, produced by Todd Rundgren, was developed from Steinman’s Peter Pan-inspired 1974 rock musical Neverland, with three Neverland songs, “Bat Out of Hell” “Heaven Can Wait,” and “The Formation of the Pack” (retitled “All Revved Up with No Place to Go”) sparking the seven-song project. Steinman and Meat Loaf spent two and half years unsuccessfully shopping the album to record labels, with Clive Davis being one of the many powerful music executives who famously passed. After it was eventually released by Cleveland International/Epic Records in 1977, Bat Out of Hell went on to become one of the biggest albums of all time, with more than 50 million copies sold worldwide (14 million in the United States alone). This established Steinman as the only artist in music history’s top 20 best-selling studio albums to have written all the songs, both music and lyrics, alone.

Bat Out of Hell’s Steinman-produced sequel, released in 1993 after the estranged Steinman and Meat Loaf resolved various financial and legal disputes, was also a smash. Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell sold 14 million copies on the strength of the iconic single “I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That),” which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned Meat Loaf a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo. Steinman also wrote seven of the 14 tracks on 2006’s Desmond Child-produced Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, although that release was surrounded by another legal dispute between Meat Loaf and Steinman over use of the "Bat Out of Hell" trademark.

Steinman’s success continued well into the ‘80s, as he released his only solo album, 1981's Bad for Good; it featured the song “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through,” which made it to No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was later an even bigger hit for Meat Loaf. Steinman put his indelible stamp on two massive, operatic songs from Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 album Faster Than the Speed of Night: the title track and “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” the latter hitting No. 1 on the Billboard 100 while another song he wrote and produced, Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” simultaneously held strong at No. 2. That same year, a song Steinman wrote for Barry Manilow, “Read ‘Em and Weep,” occupied the top spot on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart for eight straight weeks.

A year later, Steinman produced and cowrote Tyler’s hit “Holding Out for a Hero” for the teen dance movie Footloose. Also in 1984, he contributed two signature songs, “Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young” and “Nowhere Fast,” to the Streets of Fire soundtrack — the former written in just two days, to replace the titular Bruce Springsteen song that had been pulled from the film. Steinman’s perhaps most surprising ‘80s collaboration, however, occurred in 1987, when he was brought on to produce two Gothic college radio anthems for British post-punk band the Sisters of Mercy’s Floodland album, “This Corrosion” and “Dominion/Mother Russia,” and later “More” from 1990’s Vision Thing. In 1989, Steinman formed Pandora’s Box with Ellen Foley, Elaine Caswell, Gina Taylor, and Deliria Wilde, and while that band’s one album was not even released in North America, a song from it, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” was a massive international hit for Celine Dion in 1996, cracking or topping the top 10 charts in 22 countries.

In the later years of his career, Steinman focused mainly on musical productions. One of his final projects was Jim Steinman's Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, based on songs from the Bat Out of Hell trilogy. The stage show premiered at England's Manchester Opera House in February 2017 and opened in London's West End in June that same year.

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