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Meat Loaf, who died at age 74 on Thursday, found rebirth and happiness ahead of the release of his chart-topping 1993 album, with the inimitable singer and actor embracing life as a family man and conquering his demons.
At 42, Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday) was experiencing an incredible career resurgence with the success of his follow-up to 1977's hit Bat Out of Hell. Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, released in Sept. 1993, hit No. 1 in the U.S., and single "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" earned him a Grammy award for best rock solo vocal performance the next year.
He spoke with PEOPLE's Johnny Dodd, Steve Dougherty and Andiee Paviour in December 1993 about the album, and the personal struggles he'd battled on the road from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and his hit debut to awards success.
As he explained at the time, just one year after releasing the first Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf had decided to quit the music business as he strained his voice. "I didn't know how to deal with what was going on around me," he explained to PEOPLE at the time. "For about five years I couldn't work. I didn't want the responsibility anymore."
His mental health struggled, and Meat Loaf said he turned to alcohol for several months before having what was described as an "emotional breakdown."
The singer's family had a dark history with alcohol: Meat Loaf's father, Orvis Aday, was an alcoholic, and as PEOPLE wrote in 1993, "happy early memories [were] rare." When Meat Loaf's mother Wilma Aday died after battling cancer, his father chased him around with a knife on the day of the funeral. It prompted the would-be star's move to Los Angeles.
Shutterstock Meat Loaf in 1993
Eventually, as an adult, Meat Loaf found help through therapy and the support of his first wife Leslie G. Edmonds, then also 42. (The couple divorced in 2001 and he married Deborah Gillepsie in 2007.)
After Meat Loaf's recovery — which was coupled with a significant weight loss — he spent the 1980s at his family home in Connecticut trying to stage a comeback through no less than five albums. A variety of lawsuits bankrupted the singer and actor by 1983, so rather than a life on the road, Meat Loaf had more time to enjoy time at home with Leslie and their daughters Pearl and Amanda, 18 and 12 at the time of PEOPLE's original story.
"I was much happier taking a Little League team to 10-0," he said of taking on regular dad duties, "than I was selling 10 million albums."
Andre Csillag/Shutterstock Meat Loaf
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But Bat Out of Hell II propelled him back to the spotlight and was coupled with a multi-year world tour. This time, his then-wife was on the road too — and even sometimes his children.
"'I'm unbelievably happy," he said. ''I have my kids .. 'Plus, I get paid pretty well for my work."
And at the time, Meat Loaf was happy to go out on top, if it should happen. Of the album, he told PEOPLE: "I don't care if it never goes back to No. 1. It was there."
In the statement announcing the star's death, his agent Michael Green said that Meat Loaf had died "surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends."
"His amazing career spanned 6 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 10 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 understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls... don't ever stop rocking!"