Jim Steinman

     
 

James Richard Steinman (born November 1, 1948 in New York City, New York) (also called Jim Steinman) is an American rock and musical theater composer. He is notable for having written most of Meat Loaf's hit songs, in addition to hits for many other musical artists. His two biggest musical successes are Bat Out of Hell and Total Eclipse of the Heart.

The Dream Engine

While he was a student at Amherst College in Massachusetts he wrote the book, music, lyrics and starred in a play named The Dream Engine (1969), about Revolution. The story is set in a distanJim Steinmant future, and is about a young boy named Baal. He and his rebel fellows don't accept the restraints of their society. He is the leader of a group of wild boys called The Tribe, and they lived outside the city. Their mortal enemies are Max and Emily, the parents of the Girl, a young woman with whom Baal has fallen in love. Steinman played Baal in the original production. It was quite visionary and ahead of his time. Some themes from Steinman's later songs can already be heard here, like the "Turn Around" line in Total Eclipse of the Heart. This show was remade 8 years later as Neverland (see below).

Joseph Papp, founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival, saw the play and was so impressed he signed it up during intermission. He wanted to bring it to Broadway, but was stopped by the law because the play was much too sexually explicit to be represented in a public place.

More Than You Deserve

From the collaboration with Papp, another musical was born: originally titled "Souvenirs," it became More Than You Deserve (1974), co-written by Michael Weller. In 1974, Papp was producing a show; the author, Weller, said he was interested in adding a song or two to the show. Papp hooked up Mr. Weller with Steinman. Steinman had other ideas though. He envisioned a full blown Broadway musical, and pretty soon he had his way, with Jim writing the music and collaborating on the lyrics with Mr. Weller.

It was during the auditions for this show that history was made. This marks a very important encounter for Steinman. A young actor from Texas whose biggest show to date had been Hair showed up for a part in Jim's new show and tried out; his nickname was Meat Loaf. After hearing him sing a song from his album Stoney & Meatloaf called (I'd Love To Be) As Heavy As Jesus, they were so impressed that they gave him the script and asked him to tell them which character he would like to play. He surprised them all by picking Rabbit, a not too bright soldier who believed he was helping send his fellow comrades home by blowing them up with hand grenades and other ammo. The moment Steinman saw him, he realized that Meat Loaf was going to be his voice.

The story is set in Vietnam during the war in a non-combat camp run by a commander who is impotent and who falls in love with a reporter sent to cover the camp, who turns out to be a nymphomaniac when she is gang raped by the other soldiers in the camp. However, she realizes at the end that she will be even happier giving up her new found lust for sex to settle down with the impotent commander.

Neverland

In 1977 another musical saw the light (as a workshop in Washington, DC, and New York), Neverland. Basically a re-write of The Dream Engine, this time more overtly based on J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, but much more of an adult version. Thematically all, or at least most, of Steinman songs and works, can be seen as ongoing parts of his Neverland. Meat Loaf has joked about this, claiming "He (Steinman) thinks I'm Tinkerbell!"

Bat Out of Hell

1977 was important for another reason for Steinman, as it saw the debut of the album Bat Out of Hell, that he had written for Meat Loaf to sing. The album featured music of a bombastic and Wagnerian style, not quite the style that was considered hit material in the Seventies. When they started proposing it to music companies they had a lot of trouble finding someone willing to produce it. They still needed a label and it took them some more time before they finally settled with Cleveland International Records. The album was not an immediate hit but soon grew to become the second best selling album of all time.

Bad for Good

In 1981 a sequel album to Bat Out of Hell was ready, but Meat Loaf's voice, after years of continuing tour, was not. This time Jim Steinman co-produced all of the tracks. Todd Rundgren, the producer from "Bat Out of Hell" co-produced every track except "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through", which was co-produced by Jimmy Iovine, who later headed Interscope Records. Steinman had to sing his songs himself, with the help of backup vocalist Rory Dodd; the album was released as Bad for Good. The album produced one hit, Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through, which rose to position 32 on the Billboard charts in a 6 week run in July 1981. The tracks "Lost Boys and Golden Girls," "Surf's Up" and "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" were sung by Rory Dodd, despite the fact that Dodd is not credited for this work in the album's credits. Jim Steinman appeared in a music video for the song, lip-synching to Dodd's vocals. The song "Left in the Dark" was later recorded by Barbra Streisand on her album "Emotions," with Jim Steinman as the sole producer of that track.

Dead Ringer

When Meat Loaf's voice recovered, Steinman was able to give him some songs that were left, and they were collected in the 1981 Dead Ringer album. Meat later re-recorded some of the other tracks which were on the Steinman album as well, and also had a hit with "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through".

The Other Children

Bonnie Tyler

The collaboration with Meat Loaf went on hiatus, and Steinman started working on other projects; he produced Bonnie Tyler's Faster Than the Speed of Night, with the hit song, written by Steinman, "Total Eclipse of the Heart". At the same time he had written a song for Air Supply, titled "Making Love Out of Nothing at All", so in October 1983, for four weeks in a row, he had two songs at the top of the US Billboard chart: Total Eclipse at number one, and Making Love at number two. Steinman is said to be the only musician that has achieved this on the Billboard list. It would take three more years until Steinman produced/wrote/composed a second album for Bonnie Tyler.

Fire Inc.

In 1984, Steinman created Fire Inc., which was a "fake band" with the sole purpose of singing his songs on the movie Streets of Fire's soundtrack. The band featured Rory Dodd, Holly Sherwood and Laurie Sargent as lead vocals. Although the Fire Inc. songs were a commercial flop, his fans have persisted with loving them and they have been covered by several artists after that. [1]

In the following years, Steinman continued to write songs for artists like Barry Manilow, Céline Dion and The Sisters of Mercy. Others, Like Barbra Streisand, sang covers of earlier Steinman works. For example, Streisand featured a cover of "Left in the Dark" from "Bad for Good" on her 1984 release Emotion.

Pandora's Box

In 1989, Steinman gathered a group of female singers and formed the one-album band Pandora's Box. Band members were Ellen Foley (who had already sung with Meat Loaf in Bat Out of Hell), Holly Sherwood (former Fire Inc.), Elaine Caswell, Gina Taylor and Jim Steinman himself.

The album was released along with a video, directed by Ken Russell, for "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (later covered as a hit by Céline Dion), but a planned tour was scrapped. The album was not released to the United States originally. Sales for the album were modest, though Steinman continues to be very proud of it. Many fans and critics consider it one of his best works. The track "Original Sin" was recycled and featured prominently in the musical show "Tanz der Vampire." The album's final track "The Future Ain't What It Used to Be" was re-recorded for the MTV movie of "Wuthering Heights" starring Erika Christensen.

Bat Out of Hell 2: Back into Hell

During Christmas, 1989, Steinman made a visit to the home of Meat Loaf. Both Steinman and Meat Loaf began talks for a new collaboration. After several years worth of work, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell was released in 1993. The album skyrocketed to #1 in 20 countries. Sales for the album topped 11 million worldwide. The album returned Meat Loaf to prominence in the music industry and resulted in a massive tour. Among the new songs featured on the album, "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" went on to become a top selling single. As was the case with previous Steinman records, some of the songs featured were "recycled" from Bad For Good and Original Sin, but all of them were written by Steinman.

Musicals

In the late Nineties Steinman returned to his old love: musicals. He wrote lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind that went on stage in the US in 1996, and in London, rearranged in 1998, with much greater success. Many of the songs from Whistle Down the Wind were recorded by performers popular in England and released on a theme album in the U.K., produced by Jim Steinman. One track called "No Matter What," recorded by pop group Boyzone, became a hit in the U.K.

Tanz der Vampire

Steinman's big musical success, though, was Tanz der Vampire (in English: Dance of the Vampires), which opened in Vienna, Austria on October 4, 1997. From the day of the world premiere, to January 7, 1999, Steve Barton embodied the leading role of Graf von Krolock here. Based on Roman Polanski's movie The Fearless Vampire Killers, and directed by Polanski himself, Tanz der Vampire won six International musical awards, at the International Musical Award Germany (IMAGE 1998), in Düsseldorf. The musical is still playing in Hamburg, Germany.

A heavily rewritten English version opened on October 16, 2002 on Broadway; the rewrite was done to update the show for US-audiences, but ended by ruining the storyline and feeling of the once successful show. It was critically lambasted and closed on January 25, 2003. The work of lead performer Michael Crawford, who had played the lead in "Phantom of the Opera" in the 1980's, was reviewed particularly harshly. To date, it is the biggest financial flop in Broadway history, easily eclipsing the infamous Carrie (based on the film of the same name). The English version borrowed a lot of Steinman's lyrics for his previous English versions of his songs.

Bat Out of Hell 3: The Finale at Bat

At the moment Steinman is said to be working on a second sequel to Bat Out of Hell with Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell III. It is planned for release in 2006. At the same time, he has also written several films that are yet to be made.

He had been working on a musical version of Batman, though the project has collapsed.

 

 

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