Meat Loaf Got His First Taste of Success in Michigan
Motown, Alice Cooper, Dow Chemical, and "96 Tears" all factor into the beginning of Meat Loaf's career. Michigan helped form one of rock's biggest artists.
If you're thinking "rest in peace," you took the words right out of my mouth. Larger than life rocker Meat Loaf passed away on January 20, 2022 at the age of 74. He was known for the worldwide success of the album Bat Out of Hell and a noteworthy acting career that included The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Fight Club, and Wayne's World highlighting more than 50 screen credits in movies and on television. Marvin Aday was born in Dallas, Texas and moved to southern California to join a band, but it was Michigan that was incredibly formative in his early career.
Most fans know that his high school football coach was the one that gave Marvin the nickname "Meat Loaf." He took the name to southern California and christened his first band Meat Loaf Soul. Two of the members were from Michigan, including drummer Pete Woodman. Before his California pilgrimage, Woodman was in a popular Michigan band called the Bossmen with Dick Wagner. Yes, that Dick Wagner- the one who played in Frost and then on many of the seminal Alice Cooper records. Meat Loaf Soul scored gigs opening for acts like Van Morrison, ? and the Mysterians (another Michigan band) and Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin. MichiganRockandRollLegends.com picks up the story,
In order to get more jobs, Pete Woodman suggested that the band relocate to Michigan. Woodman felt that he could use his Bossmen connection to get gigs there and that he might be able to find a sponsor to buy new equipment for the band. True to his word, Woodman was able to convince Mrs. Jayne Gerstacker, the first wife of Carl Gerstacker the chairman of Dow Chemical in Midland, to foot the bill for not only for new equipment, including new Sunn amplifiers, speakers, and PA system, but also new clothes and publicity pictures for the band.
Just as the band, now calling themselves Popcorn Blizzard was ready to rock, their guitarist defected to join Bay City rival band ? and the Mysterians. Hoping to capture some of the magic, Popcorn Blizzard booked time in the same Bay City studio where ? and the Mysterians cut "96 Tears," which went to #1. “Once Upon A Time” did not chart as well. Another celebrity connection moved their career forward as Suzi Quatro's older brother Mike became their booking agent and got them on stage at Detroit's Grande Ballroom opening for the MC5, Pink Floyd, the Who, Bob Seger, Dr. John, Amboy Dukes, the Stooges, the newly relocated Alice Cooper and even the Grateful Dead.
Although he was enjoying his time on stage, Meat Loaf wanted to get back to his theater roots and moved back to Los Angeles to join Hair. The success of that show got the attention of Motown records, where he was paired with fellow cast member Shaun "Stoney" Murphy as Stoney and Meatloaf. After a tour, Meat Loaf was offered a role in the Broadway production of Hair, which led to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bat Out of Hell and all the rest. Michigan Rock and Roll Legends has many more details on a remarkable career that had its genesis in Michigan as we remember Meat Loaf, gone at the age of 74.
Here's hoping he found paradise by the dashboard light.
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