Jim Steinman, the songwriter and producer best known for his grandiose ballads sung by Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion and Air Supply, has died at age 73.

The Connecticut state medical examiner confirmed Steinman's death to Variety, though a cause was not immediately announced.

Steinman was born Nov. 1, 1947, in New York City, but he found his calling while studying at Amherst College in Massachusetts. There, he became involved in musical theater, writing music and lyrics for his 1969 production The Dream Engine, which led to work with Joseph Papp, founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival. His career expanded the following decade. His song "Happy Ending" appeared on Yvonne Elliman's 1973 album, Food of Love; that same year, he wrote music and lyrics for the musical More Than You Deserve, which costarred his future collaborator Marvin Lee Aday, performing under the stage name Meat Loaf.

"[From] the minute he walked in, I was stunned," Steinman recalled in 2003 of Meat Loaf's audition. "I thought he was astonishing. He's just one of those people who walks in and it's the equivalent of an enormous cat pissing on the door. Just stakes territory immediately. Just charismatic and he wasn't the character of Meat Loaf then, he was much more like this enormous inflated farm boy. He wore, like, overalls, he didn't have that much experience singing rock 'n' roll specifically."

That collaboration became pivotal: Steinman went on to write the entirety of Meat Loaf's first album, 1977's Bat Out of Hell, a collection of theatrical hard rock that earned comparisons to Bruce Springsteen. The LP peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard and hit No. 9 in the U.K., spawning FM staples like the title track, "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)," "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."

Meat Loaf recorded Steinman songs on several albums, including three others fully or largely penned by the songwriter: 1981's Dead Ringer, the chart-topping 1993 sequel Bat Out of Hell: Back Into Hell (featuring the hit "I'd Do Anything for Love [But I Won't Do That]") and 2016's Braver Than We Are. Steinman also recorded one solo LP, 1981's Bad for Good, which featured a Top 40 hit, "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through."

While Steinman also worked on musicals sporadically throughout his career, he continued to churn out hits as a songwriter — finding more ideal vehicles for his dramatic power ballads and rock epics. His writing catalog also includes Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (1983), Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" (1983) and Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (1996).

"I think 'romantic''s the key word," Steinman said in 1978, reflecting on his style. "Instead of being an album of just seven songs — I think of [Bat Out of Hell] as a fairly unified collection of seven visions or dreams … or even adventures. When you start playing the record, it's [like] setting off on a voyage, on a series of adventures through this kingdom, this world. And it just so happens that almost all of the people in the world are teenagers. That's just because I think that's the best kind of world. If you have a world only of teenagers, at least musically for the course of one record, you're bound to get a lot of excitement, a lot of romance, a lot of violence, a lot of chills and fever, a lot of sex. And those are all very good things. A lot of motorcycles.

"It beats Perry Como, doesn't it?"

 

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