Meeting Meat Loaf
Last Saturday I met Meat Loaf. No, not the dinner entree. The iconic singer who won a Grammy for “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and sold more than 80 million albums throughout his diverse and prolific career. The first step was getting a professional photo with Meat (that’s the name he likes to go by), which you can see above. I came up with my outfit the day of the event and I think it turned out great. Thankfully, my hair was behaving too. As for the photo itself, it’s perfect and everything I hoped it would be. But let’s get into what it was like to meet Meat.
In celebrity photo lines, they move you along pretty quickly because there are often hundreds or thousands of people waiting to capture a moment with their icon of choice. To the photographer’s frustration, Meat kept waving her off from taking a photo so he could spend a minute or so asking the fans questions, which set a great tone going into my photo with him. I approached Meat, shook his hand and said, “Hi, Meat. I’m Michael Cavacini. It’s nice to meet you.” He said, “What’s your name again?” I said, “Michael.” He replied, “Great to meet you, Michael” and we posed for our photo. I turned to him, shook his hand again and said, “I’ll see you soon, Meat.” Then I grabbed my stuff and booked it over to his long line of fans waiting (in another room) for him to come back and sign autographs.
I probably waited in Meat’s autograph line for an hour or so. Then I was brought into the room where another line was located, snaking around to the front of his table. As I got closer to him, I noticed just how much time he was spending with fans. He’d pat the seat next to him and tell them, “Sit down” as he autographed their photos or prepared to take photos with them. He spent at least a few minutes with each person, asking questions, and showing genuine interest in them, which is refreshing. In between meet and greets, he’d rock out to the music he had playing in the background. During one song he said, “Everybody, bang your head!” as he proceeded to rock his head up and down like he was at an awesome rock show. When “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen was playing he said, “Freddie is the greatest rock and roll singer of all time” and pointed out how he loved the descending “Hey, hey, hey, hey…” part of the song around two minutes and thirty seconds in. The people loved the playful and fun personality that Meat was exuding. It was clear that he was having as much fun as all of the people who came out to see him.
When it was almost my turn, Meat turned to me as he was talking about music and said, “Singing requires using your whole body. At this point, I can’t sing more than five minutes without being in pain because of the three back surgeries I’ve had over the past few years.” With my photo print in hand, as well as an 8×10 I was getting autographed for a friend, I approached Meat and sat down next to him. I shook his hand and he said, “I remember you.” I said, “With a jacket like this, how could you not?” and laughed. I kicked off the conversation by telling Meat about how I’m doing DDP Yoga Rebuild with my Dad to help strengthen his back and how he could benefit from it as well. He said, “Oh, I’m not able to do yoga yet. I had three back surgeries and I’m finally down to one pain pill a day, which is good because I used to have to take much more than that.”
I then asked him, “What are your thoughts on Barry Manilow’s cover of ‘Read ‘Em and Weep’?” He smiled, laughed and said, “Barry knows what I think about his version of that song. I met him six times before telling him what I thought. I said, ‘Barry, you have to know how to sing a Jim Steinman song.’ One time, Barry was on Johnny Carson, down on his knees singing the song. He tried to bring out the dramatic elements of the song but it just didn’t work. And he knew it didn’t work. He told me, ‘That’s why I don’t sing it live.'” Despite Meat and Barry not liking this particular version of “Read ‘Em and Weep,” I love Manilow’s interpretation of this song and think it is superior to the original in every way.
Next, I said, “You know, I was supposed to interview you three years ago but it didn’t happen.” He said, “That’s probably because that’s when I had my first back surgery.” I replied, “That makes sense. It was around the time your last album, Braver Than We Are, came out.” Meat said, “That album needs a lot of explaining. People didn’t like it. But what they don’t realize is I was singing in the voice of the character for that album, not my own voice. That’s why I sounded the way I did on that album. I wasn’t singing in my own voice. I was singing in the voice of the character I created for that song. You need to listen to that album four times to really understand it.” I replied, “Well, we should finally set up that interview so we can get the word out about this and talk about your entire career.” Meat said, “Well, I don’t have a team of people anymore. They all ran for the hills when things turned bad for me.” After fishing out his cell phone from his pocket he said to me, “If I give you my number do you promise not to share it with anyone?” I said, “Of course. I have many celebrity phone numbers that I haven’t shared with anyone. It’s safe with me.” I took down his number and had him autograph my two photos because it was clear that my extremely lengthy conversation with him was making the other fans in line restless.
I tried to call Meat on Monday. Unfortunately, I came to the awful realization that I must have written down his number incorrectly. Thankfully, I connected with Meat’s agent and he forwarded my email and contact information on to Meat Loaf. While I hope the interview with Meat eventually happens, if it doesn’t that’s OK because my experience meeting and speaking with Meat Loaf exceeded all of my expectations. He’s a kind soul, an immensely talented musician, and I’m glad I had this moment with him.