Theatrical rock superstar Meat Loaf, whose Bat Out of Hell is one of the bestselling albums of all time, has died at the age of 74. Reports say the singer and actor had recently fallen sick with COVID-19.
In an emotional statement posted to Facebook early Friday, the performer’s family said he was with his wife when he died and had said his final goodbyes to his two daughters in the past 24 hours. The star sold 100 million albums in his five-decade career and starred in movies including Fight Club, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Wayne’s World, and did a stint on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice reality-TV show.
“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,” the family wrote in its announcement. “From his heart to your souls… don’t ever stop rocking!”
No cause of death was confirmed, but TMZ reported that Meat Loaf—whose real name was Marvin Lee Aday—died after falling “seriously ill” with COVID-19 in recent weeks. According to the site, he canceled a business meeting this week for a planned reality show named after his hit “I’d Do Anything for Love (but I Won’t Do That).”
Meat Loaf’s daughter Pearl Aday posted on Instagram on Jan. 7 that several of her friends and family had recently tested positive. “We are not sick, but we have too many friends and family testing positive right now, positive but doing ok,” she wrote. “Thank their respect for science that they’re all vaxxed, otherwise they’d be way worse.”
The singer’s vaccine status isn’t known, but TMZ reported that he had recently spoken out against planned vaccine mandates in Australia.
The Daily Beast reached out to his manager Michael Greene for comment on his cause of death.
In May, he posted a clip of Eric Clapton’s anti-lockdown song “Stand and Deliver,” and, in what appears to be one of his last interviews, Meat Loaf appeared to be losing patience with pandemic measures.
Speaking to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in August last year, he told the interviewer “I hug people in the middle of COVID,” and said: “I understood stopping life for a little while, but they cannot continue to stop life because of politics. And right now they’re stopping because of politics.”
The singer went on to complain about being asked to wear a mask on a plane, stating that he didn’t believe paper masks were as good at N95s at stopping the coronavirus from spreading. “We had to go on the airplane with the paper masks and then on the way back, we got a Nazi: ‘Get your mask on now!’ They’re power-mad now,” he told the paper.
After the interviewer replied, “Oh, God. We’re being controlled by everybody,” the singer responded ominously, “Yeah, I know. But not me. If I die, I die, but I’m not going to be controlled.”