Meat Loaf guitarist Paul Crook recalls Ohio launching ‘Bat Out of Hell,’ producing final album as Neverland Express carries on

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“Bat Out of Hell” is one of the best-selling albums in world history. Led by Meat Loaf, and backed by the Neverland Express band, Jim Steinman’s magnum opus was rejected by dozens of record labels… until an independent label in Ohio, Cleveland International Records — run by Steve Popovich in Willoughby — took a gamble against the industry oddsmakers.

45 years later, the Neverland Express returns to Ohio and will perform the “Bat Out of Hell” album from start to finish — plus highlights from “Bat Out of Hell II,” which includes “I Would Do Anything For Love,” another industry-defier that soared to number one at the height of grunge and Meat Loaf turning 46 years old.

After Meat Loaf’s health challenges provoked an abrupt halt to his touring in 2016, he gave his blessing to the Neverland Express continuing to tour with American Idol 2014 winner Caleb Johnson handling vocals until Meat Loaf felt strong enough to join them.

A promotional photo for BAT, a rock group who performs the music of Meat Loaf made up of The Neverland Express and American Idol Winner, Caleb Johnson.

WOUB PBS’s Ian Saint had a chance to speak at length with Meat Loaf’s lead guitarist of over 20 years, Paul Crook, about a wide variety of topics in addition to their upcoming Ohio shows — including:

  • the histories that each 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 the Neverland Express his blessing to soldier on as he recuperated
  • the significance of Ohio and Cleveland International Records in launching Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman — and which passage of Bat Out of Hell convinced Steve Popovich to sign them
  • what still drove Meat Loaf batty (pun intended) about the Bat Out of Hell record four decades (and 40 million copies) later
  • Paul producing the final album for both Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman, Braver Than We Are; and the immense difficulties in conjuring what wound up their triumphant swan song, in spite of both their extensive physical health challenges
  • witnessing the reconciliation between Meat Loaf and Jim Stein man as they contended with their mortality, and the warmth of their final years despite having endured lengthy bouts of bitter lawsuits

Click Play on the YouTube video embedded beneath the headline, to stream the entire segment on-demand.

BAT: The Official Meat Loaf Celebration returns the Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman legacies to Ohio in two regions. They play the Robins Theatre in Warren (160 E. Market St.) on Friday, June 10; and the Peoples’ Bank Theatre in Marietta (222 Putnam St.) on Saturday, June 11. For tickets, and the Neverland Express’s full tour itinerary, visit their official website