The late singer Meat Loaf made movies, and lots of memories, in Wilmington

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After Meat Loaf died last week at the age of 74 — reportedly from complications of COVID-19 — friends and fans worldwide offered up memories of the rock singer and actor and his larger-than-life personality.

Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, spent time in Wilmington during his career, shooting two feature films and at least one music video here. Not surprisingly, locals still remember their interactions with the artist, who's best known for his epic drama-rock album "Bat Out Of Hell" and his role in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

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Meat Loaf's first visit to Wilmington came in the mid 1980s, just as the local film industry was getting started, to appear in a film called "Skip Tracer," later released in 1987 as "The Squeeze."

Wilmington film industry veteran Jock Brandis worked as a rigger on the action comedy, which also starred Michael Keaton, Rae Dawn Chong and Danny Aiello. Meat Loaf plays a villain who threatens Chong in one scene.

Meat Loaf in Los Angeles in October 1999
Meat Loaf in Los Angeles in October 1999

Brandis said Meat Loaf traveled with his family in a motorhome, which he would park near set when they were filming.

"I remember watching him teach his young daughter, with incredible care and patience, how to putt a golf ball," Brandis said.

"The Squeeze" shot a number of scenes at an old fertilizer plant in Navassa that has since burned down. At the end of the shoot, producers hadn't planned to throw a wrap party for cast and crew. That's when Meat Loaf stepped in and threw the party himself, even bringing in his band and performing on location at the fertilizer plant in Navassa, Brandis said.

Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf

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Brandis later worked on a video that Meat Loaf shot in Wilmington on the third floor of what used to be the called "the Roudabush building," where The Husk and Yo Sake are today. (The famous scene in "Blue Velvet" in which Dean Stockwell lip syncs Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" into a work light was shot in the same room, which used to be an apartment.)

Leonard Rollins knew exactly who Meat Loaf was in the late '80s, as Rollins, a music fanatic, was working at the old School Kids Records on Kerr Avenue. Rollins recalled running into Meat Loaf downtown when the singer was in town shooting "The Squeeze."

"We crossed each other outside the post office," Rollins said. "We both happened to have cameras on us and I asked to take a picture of him. He said sure, only if he could do the same."

In the late '90s, Meat Loaf, playing another villain, co-starred with Patrick Swayze and Randy Travis in a Wilmington-shot action film called "Black Dog." The movie is mostly remembered for an on-set explosion that sent three crew members to the hospital.

Meat Loaf in the 1998 film "Black Dog," which filmed in the Wilmington area.
Meat Loaf in the 1998 film "Black Dog," which filmed in the Wilmington area.

Last week, country singer Travis posted to Facebook about his time with Meat Loaf on "Black Dog," saying his memories with the singer, and with the late Swayze, "remain some of my most cherished."

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Meat Loaf was also in a short film, "The Car Kid," which wasn't shot locally but was based on the novel "Killer Diller" by Wilmington-based author Clyde Edgerton. (It stars James Franco as a blues-loving jailbird and Brad Renfro as a musical savant; Meat Loaf played Renfro's dad.)

"The Car Kid," directed by Tricia Brock, who later expanded it into a feature, screened at Wilmington's Cucalorus Film Festival in the early 2000s. It also screened at a film festival in New York around that same time.

Edgerton said he went to New York when the short screened there, and met for dinner with several cast and crew members, including Meat Loaf.

"Meat Loaf dominated the conversation, as one might expect," Edgerton said. The singer told a lot of stories, including one about "waking up on a cold tile floor," a line Edgerton, who's a musician and a painter in addition to being a novelist, would later use in a song of his own.

As the dinner broke up, "I assumed Meat Loaf might pick up the tab," Edgerton said, considering that the singer was the most famous person there.

Eventually, however, Edgerton was the only one of the party still in the restaurant, and found he'd been left with a tab that exceeded $500.

"He gave me a song," Edgerton said with a laugh. "The song did not make me back the $500."

Contact John Staton at 910-343-2343 or John.Staton@StarNewsOnline.com.

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Late singer Meat Loaf made movies, and memories, in Wilmington NC

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