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Always with him. Meat Loaf’s wife, Deborah Gillespie, and his two daughters from his marriage to his ex-wife, Leslie Edmonds, were by his side when he died.
Meat Loaf, whose real name was Michael Lee Aday, died on January 20, 2022, from COVID-19. He was 74 years old. “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends,” Meat Loaf’s agent Michael Green said in a statement to People at the time. “His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World. ‘Bat Out of Hell’ remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time. 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. We thank you for understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls… don’t ever stop rocking!”
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Meat Loaf was born in Dallas, Texas, on September 27, and was the only child of Wilma Artie, a school teacher, and Orvis Wesley Aday, a former police officer. After he attended the University of North Texas, Meat Loaf—who had acted in musicals like Where’s Charley? and The Music Man in high school—moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. While in L.A. Meat Loaf formed his first band, Meat Loaf Soul, which released singles like “Once Upon a Time” and “Hello” and went on to open for artists like Janis Joplin, the Who and Grateful Dead. While he was in Meat Loaf of Soul, Meat Loaf was cast in the musical Hair in L.A. The success of Hair led Meat Loaf to be cast in the Broadway production of the musical in New York City, as well as the Broadway musical Rainbow.
After Hair, Meat Loaf went on to be cast in the original production of The Rocky Horror Show in L.A., playing the parts of Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott, as well as the musical’s movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Around the same time, Meat Loaf started recording his debut album, Bat Out of Hell, which was released in 1977 and went on to sell more than 43 million copies worldwide. The album also led to two more records in the Bat Out of Hell trilogy—Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose—and a Grammy award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for the song “I’d Do Anything For Love” from the second Bat Out of Hell album, as well as the title of one of the greatest hard rock artists of all time.
So who is Meat Loaf‘s wife, Deborah Gillespie, and what was his relationship like with his ex-wife, Leslie Edmonds? Read on for what we know about Meat Loaf’s wife and his marriages before his death.
Deborah Gillespie (2007 – 2022)
Meat Loaf’s second wife was Deborah Gillespie, who was with him when he died on January 20, 2022. Meat Loaf and Gillespie married in 2007 and split their time between their homes in Los Angeles, California, and Austin, Texas, Meat Loaf’s home state. They were married for 14 years until Meat Loaf’s death in 2022. According to her IMDb, Gillespie worked with Meat Loaf on projects like 2004’s Meat Loaf: Live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and 2007’s Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise. Meat Loaf and Gillespie have also walked the red carpet at several events together, including the 2006 American Music Awards. Gillespie was also with Meat Loaf at the finale of The Celebrity Apprentice season 4 at Trump Tower SoHo in New York City in 2011. Meat Loaf was a contestant on the season and came in third place after raising $204,580 for his charity, The Painted Turtle, a summer camp in Lake Hughes, California, for children with life-threatening or chronic illnesses.
Leslie Edmonds (1997 – 2001)
Meat Loaf’s first wife was Leslie Edmonds, a former secretary at the record label Bearsville Records. The two were married to from 1979 to 2001. After their wedding, Meat Loaf adopted Edmonds’ daughter, Pearl, from her previous relationship to Clark Pierson. “We like to say that my mom and I married my dad in 1979 and thus began our marriage with hard rock and grand stage production, theatrics, and bombast,” Pearl told Gold Mine in 2016. Meat Loaf and Edmonds welcomed their first child together, a daughter named Amanda Lee, in 1981. Like her father, Amanda works as an actress and is best known for her role in the TV show, Carnivàle. Pearl, for her part, also followed in her adoptive father’s footsteps. She was a member of her own band, Neverland Express, has sung backing vocals for her father and is married to Scott Ian, a member of the band Anthrax.
In an interview with Billboard in 2017, Todd Rundgren, a producer on Bat Out of Hell, recalled Meat Loaf’s and Edmonds’ love story. “One of the things I look most fondly on is unrelated actually to the record. It was Meat Loaf proposing to his wife. We were up in Bearsville, there was a secretary at Bearsville Records, Leslie, and Meat Loaf kind of fell for her,” he said.“I remember when he kind of like did his first big move on her. We were in the Bear Cafe, and he had a package that he had brought up from New York and presented it to her, and it was a giant whole salmon. And it was as if a bear had proposed to his mate. Instead of a ring, a salmon.” He continued, “They got married in my house,” said Rundgren, who noted that the priest who married Edmonds and Meat Loaf was so old that he couldn’t tell them apart. “So he looked at Leslie and said, ‘Do you Marvin, take Leslie as your lawful wedded wife?’ The guy next to him had to whisper everything into his ear. It was such a sight.”
For more about Meat Loaf, read his 1999 autobiography, To Hell and Back. The book—whose title is inspired by Meat Loaf’s 1977 album, Bat Out of Hell—follows the “rages to riches” tale of Meat Loaf’s career and life, from his childhood with an alcoholic father to the time he picked up hitchhiker who he later learned was Charles Manson. The autobiography also tells the story of how Meat Loaf he was cast in the Broadway musical Hair while trying to get a job as a parking attendant and how he landed a lead role in one of the most beloved cult-favorite movies of all time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Filled with never-before-told stories from Meat Loaf’s life, To Hell and Back tells the tale of how a boy from Dallas, Texas, went on to sell 28 million records worldwide in an industry that initially rejected him.
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