True meaning behind Meat Loaf's song I'd Do Anything For Love revealed after rock star’s death aged 74

MEAT Loaf's blockbuster hit I'd Do Anything For Love has left a mystery hanging for nearly 30 years – what won't he do?

The rock legend – who has died aged 74 – said it was the question he was most often asked by his army of fans around the world.

Meat Loaf himself thought the real meaning was clear to anyone who listened to the whole song.

But it has not stopped fans speculating for decades on the enigma behind one of the most famous lyrics in pop history.

I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) was the lead track in Meat Loaf's 1993 comeback album Bat Out Of Hell II.

It shot to number one in 28 countries and earned him a Grammy Award.

Part of the mystery could be explained by the fact many of the verses were cut in the five-minute single edit and seven-minute camp gothic video.

The full album version – which runs to an epic 12 minutes – contains a series of examples of things the singer won't do.

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They include:

  • "forget the way you feel right now"
  • "forgive myself if we don't go all the way tonight"
  • "do it better than I do it with you"
  • "stop dreaming of you every night of my life"

Towards the end, the song turns into a duet with a woman who predicts a number of things he will do.

She sings: "You'll see that it's time to move on", and "You'll be screwing around."

Each time, Meat Loaf croons back: "I won't do that!"

Mystery explained

Songwriter Jim Steinman – who lifted the famous lyric from a 1983 song by Bonnie Tyler – acknowledged some fans would find it ambiguous.

But he insisted the meaning of "that" is fully revealed in each verse.

He said in 1993: "It sort of is a little puzzle and I guess it goes by – but they're all great things. 'I won't stop doing beautiful things and I won't do bad things.' It's very noble.

"I'm very proud of that song because it's very much like out of the world of Excalibur. To me, it's like Sir Lancelot or something – very noble and chivalrous.

"That's my favorite song on the record – it's very ambitious."

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🔵 Read our Meat Loaf live blog for the latest updates on his death

Meat Loaf himself explained exactly what "that" means in a VH1 Storytellers special, using a blackboard and pointer on stage in 1998.

In 2014, he added: "It's the line before every chorus.

"There's nine of them, I think. The problem lies because Jimmy likes to write, so you forget what the line was before you get to 'I won't do that'.

"When we were recording it, Jim brings up the thing — he says, 'People aren't gonna know what that is'.

"I said, 'Of course they are. How can they not know?' He goes, 'They're not gonna'."

Despite the song's success around the world, Newcastle-born female vocalist Lorraine Crosby was not credited and reportedly got no royalties.

Actress Dana Patrick – who lip syncs in the video – was reportedly offered recording contracts by music executives who thought it was her voice.

'Rebellious chameleon'

Meat Loaf's death last night after a stellar career spanning six decades sparked tributes around the world.

Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter: "RIP Meat Loaf, 74.

"One of rock music’s all-time great characters whose seminal iconic album Bat Out Of Hell is one of the biggest-selling records in history.

"A wondrously talented, flamboyant, funny, outrageous and rebellious chameleon. Sad news."

Singer Cher said she had "so much fun" with Meat Loaf when she worked with him on his 1981 album Dead Ringer.

In a tribute posted to Twitter, she added: "Am Very Sorry For His Family, Friends, & Fans.

"Am I imagining It, or Are Amazing Ppl In The Arts Dying every other Day."

Actor Stephen Fry tweeted: "I hope paradise is as you remember it from the dashboard light, Meat Loaf.

"Had a fun time performing a sketch with him on Saturday Live way back in the last century.

"He had the quality of being simultaneously frightening and cuddly, which is rare and rather wonderful."

The news of his death was posted on his official Facebook page early today, revealing he died on Thursday night with wife Deborah Gillespie by his side.

A statement said: "Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side.

"Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.

"His amazing career spanned six decades that saw him sell over 100 million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World.

"Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top ten selling albums of all time.

"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.

"We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!"

Failing health

The rock veteran had been plagued with health issues and rumours that he was dying ever since he collapsed onstage in June 2016.

He had appeared in a number of interviews with slurred speech, with even Katie Price telling him she thought he had died.

He was forced to deny he'd passed away again two months after further back surgery to remove a cyst.

He said: “Listen, I am not dying. After three months of therapy I will be fine. I am sick of talking about it. I don’t want to talk about it from now on.

"And anyone else who asks me the question, I’m not going to respond to it.”

In 2012, Meat Loaf claimed dying on stage would be the "best thing" that could happen to him.

"I’ll die for ya," he said in an interview with Tinnitist.

"I literally will die for an audience. The best thing that could ever happen to me is that I die onstage.

"Because then I’m dying doing what I love. I hate to cut us off but I gotta go."

Meat Loaf was last pictured on stage on March 27 last year when he performed with country artist John Rich at Redneck Riviera in Nashville.

The singer's cause of death has not yet been revealed.

He was born Marvin Lee Aday  in Dallas, Texas, in 1947, forming his first band Meat Loaf Soul in the 1960s and legally changing his name to Michael Lee Aday.

He had the nickname Meat Loaf since he was a child and kept it when he went on stage.

In 2016 he told Oprah he was "born bright red" and his father called him Meat because he "looked like nine and a half pounds of ground chuck.”

The second part reportedly came when he was 13 and accidentally stepped on his sports coach, who yelled: “Get off my foot, you hunk of meat loaf!”

Meat Loaf's colourful career saw him not only wow fans with his music, but also with his theatrics as he appeared in more than 50 movies and television shows –  including the 1997 film Spice World.

In 1973, he was cast in the original LA Roxy cast of The Rocky Horror Show, playing the parts of Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott.

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