So Meat Loaf told me this crazy story about how Bruce Springsteen’s whole career was saved by a young studio engineer.
Meat Loaf — who performs tonight, Saturday and Tuesday at Planet Hollywood Resort — said Springsteen in the 1970s was in trouble with his record label and producer Clive Davis, because his first few folky albums didn’t hit. And executives didn’t love his third album-in-the-making, “Born To Run.”
“I know for a fact Clive Davis was dropping Springsteen on ‘Born to Run’ until Jimmy Iovine came in” to mix “Born To Run” into a hit album, Meat Loaf said.
“I know that for a fact. I was working with Jimmy Iovine when he remixed ‘Born to Run.’ I know the whole story. I won’t tell you the story, because I’m going to let that be. But Clive was dropping Bruce.”
A few years ago, Iovine (now a legendary producer) told Rolling Stone, “We were all deathly afraid of Springsteen” because Springsteen behaved so angrily and erratically toward people.
When Iovine took a vinyl copy of his classic mix to Springsteen, Springsteen listened, took the album off a record player and threw it in his hotel pool.
Meat Loaf worked with Iovine and Springsteen band musicians on his own classic, “Bat Out Of Hell.”
Meat Loaf told me he received “almost none” of the money “Bat Out Of Hell” earned after selling 34 million copies. Why didn’t he fight for more money?
“We did, but a whole other thing happened, which I can’t get into. Jim (composer Jim Steinman) and I have been paid less than 6 percent.”
To be clear, Meat Loaf likes these people, especially Springsteen. He misses the old studio system (pre-Internet destruction) because music execs nurtured musicians.
Today, labels drop artists when they don’t hit immediately. In the 1970s- through ’90s, execs built artist careers and shrugged off early poor sales.
“I’ve got news for you,” Meat Loaf said. “If it would have been today, Springsteen would have never happened” because Springsteen’s first albums didn’t sell well.
The same is true of David Bowie, Bob Seger, Kiss, Bon Jovi and Led Zeppelin’s first album, Meat Loaf said.
I reminded Meat Loaf that artists today can use the Internet to publish their own music and market themselves, giving them more control over their careers.
“That means nothing,” Meat Loaf said. “YouTube doesn’t mean anything. I don’t give a (expletive) what they say. A cat jumping in a milk bowl gets bigger impressions than a lot of music.”
And he said what everyone knows: Musicians struggle for money, because fans download songs for free.
“If I could, I would go into everybody’s house that has ever illegally downloaded anything and break every piece of technology they have. And I’m sure I’d be joined by several other artists.”
Wait, so what would Meat Loaf like me to tell you?
“Come to the show,” he said. “I give everything that I have to give, every night, bar none.
“My theory has always been, from day one: If I have any energy left to do anything but to crawl myself back to my room and lay down on my bed and go, ‘Oh God,’ then I haven’t done my job. There are only a few of us out there” with that much dedication.
“Springsteen is kind of like that. He lays it out there.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.