Meat Loaf scored one of the top five best-selling albums ever with 'Bat Out of Hell" in 1977. It sold 43 million copies and earned platinum status 14 times over, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and continues to sell about 200,000 copies every year.
So how on earth did Meat Loaf, who recently died at age 74, lose all of that money, declaring bankruptcy in 1983? Look to the usual suspects: poor money management, and the cost of fighting — and starting — lawsuits. The Dallas-born singer, whose real name was Marvin Lee Aday, also dealt with the pressures of fame by turning to alcohol and drugs, notably cocaine.
Worst of all, his relationship with songwriter Jim Steinman crumbled (and also resulted in lawsuits, one of which had Meat Loaf demanding $500 million from Steinman). "I had 45 lawsuits totaling $80 million thrown at me," Meat Loaf told The Guardian. The singer's next five albums were also flops, and Meat Loaf turned to a relentless touring schedule to cover expenses.
While the 1983 bankruptcy helped Meat Loaf shrug off the crushing weight of debt, it wasn't without a price. "It’s shameful. I ended up bankrupt. I lost my house and everything — even the publishing rights to my songs, which the Bankruptcy Court took away," he told the Los Angeles Times. He also accused Sony of not paying at least $5 million in royalties.
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Meat Loaf did manage to right his finances later in life. When he and Steinman mended fences, the result — 1993's "Bat Out of Hell II," which included his biggest hit, the epic "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" — sold over 14 million copies. Unfortunately, because of continuing legal wrangling, he wouldn't see any money from his record sales until 1997.
Meat Loaf also found work as an actor, appearing in more than 100 films, including "Fight Club" and "Wayne's World." But his demanding work schedule came at a price. He had heart surgery in 2003 and was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which causes rapid heartbeat. He also collapsed on stage in 2016 due to dehydration.
Still, Meat Loaf didn't die broke — far from it. He was reportedly worth $40 million when he died.