Meat Loaf guitarist Paul Crook recalls Ohio kicking off ‘Bat Out of Hell’, producing his final album as Neverland Express continues
By: Ian Saint
“Bat Out of Hell” is one of the best-selling albums in world history. Led by Meat Loaf and backed by the band Neverland Express, Jim Steinman’s magnum opus was rejected by dozens of record labels…until an independent Ohio label, Cleveland International Records – run by Steve Popovich in Willoughby – took a bet against industry bettors. .
45 years later, the Neverland Express returns to Ohio and will perform the album “Bat Out of Hell” from start to finish – as well as excerpts from “Bat Out of Hell II“, which includes “I’d Do Anything for Love,” another industry challenger who rose to No. 1 during the height of grunge and Meat Loaf at the age of 46.
After Meat Loaf’s health issues caused his tour to end abruptly in 2016, he gave the Neverland Express his blessing to continue touring with 2014 American Idol winner Caleb Johnson, who took care of the voice until Meat Loaf felt strong enough to join them.
Ian Saint of WOUB PBS had the opportunity to speak extensively with Meat Loaf’s lead guitarist of over 20 years, Paul Crook, on a wide variety of topics in addition to their upcoming shows in Ohio, including:
- the stories every Neverland Express member had with Meat Loaf
- that infamous 2016 concert in Edmonton, Canada, where Meat Loaf collapsed at the end of his set; and how he gave his blessing to the Neverland Express to continue his recovery
- the importance of Ohio and Cleveland International Records in launching Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman – and what a passage from Bat out of hell convinced Steve Popovich to sign them
- which further caused Meat Loaf to beat (pun intended) about the Bat out of hell record four decades (and 40 million copies) later
- Paul producing the latest album for Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman, braver than us; and the immense difficulties in warding off what concluded their triumphant swan song, despite their considerable physical health problems
- witness the reconciliation between Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman as they struggled with their mortality and the heat of their later years despite enduring long periods of bitter lawsuits
Click Play on the YouTube video embedded below the title to stream the entire segment on demand.
BAT: The Official Meatloaf Celebration returns the legacies of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman to Ohio in two regions. They play the Robins Theater in Warren (160 E. Market St.) on Friday, June 10; and the People’s Bank Theater in Marietta (222 Putnam St.) on Saturday, June 11. For tickets and the full itinerary for the Neverland Express tour, visit their official website batexperience.com.