Meat Loaf's Daughter Amanda Aday Remembers Late Performer: 'When We Were Home, He Was Just Dad'
Amanda Aday, Meat Loaf's daughter, remembers the Grammy-winning rocker as a passionate musician and father in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE.
Meat Loaf died on Thursday while surrounded by his daughters Amanda and Pearl, his wife Deborah, and several close friends. He was 74.
Aday, 41, tells PEOPLE her late father was a "complex man with a lot of passion, who wore his heart on his sleeve" throughout his life. "So, he would tell you, 'F—k you, I love you,'" she adds.
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Aday and Pearl "lived a very dichotomous life" as daughters of the rockstar, who rose to fame with his 1977 hit record Bat Out of Hell. Aday recalls touring arenas, growing up on tour buses, "and having all of these amazing experiences" as they traveled with their father around the globe.
When they would return home, however, "it was home and he was just dad," she says. "He wasn't Meat Loaf anymore."
When Meat Loaf wasn't working, he was actively involved in his children's lives — from directing school plays to coaching their softball teams. He was very much a typical dad outside of his public persona, according to Aday.
"If we didn't get good grades, we were grounded, and all of that stuff," she says. "So, it was very much, when we weren't out on tour living this crazy life, it was very important to him that we were grounded in our home."
Cameron Richardson/Newspix/Getty Meat Loaf
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Meat Loaf initially avoided fitting the mold in life, Aday adds. "Growing up, when we were little, he always said he never wanted to be hip," she explains. "Pearl and I would want a new pair of shoes or something, whatever was in trend, fashion-wise or whatever, and he'd always say, 'Don't be trendy. Don't be hip. Be cool, because cool is always.' And that was him."
Michael Boardman/WireImage; Rob Kim/Getty
According to his daughter, Christmas was Meat Loaf's favorite time of year. "He was Santa Claus," Aday she says as she recalled the singer's love for the holiday. "He would stay up all night making train sets around the Christmas tree."
One year, when Aday was 6, Meat Loaf got his daughter every Playmobil toy imaginable. "He stayed up literally all night and erected an entire Playmobil city and circus underneath the Christmas tree, because that's what he did. He was dad," she shares.
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Aday was born in 1981, the same year Meat Loaf released his second album, Dead Ringer. She began touring the world with her father as an infant, remembering one passport photo of herself in her mother's lap.
Aday reveals that her earliest memories of Meat Loaf are of him "working really hard," especially in the 1980s. "It wasn't like, 'Oh, they won't let me play arenas anymore. So, I'm just going to go away.' He was never going to go away, and he never did," she says.
Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Meat Loaf
In 1993, Meat Loaf released his sixth studio album called Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell. Aday, who was 13 years old at the time, and her family were in Australia when her mother was informed that both his album and single "Anything For Love" had hit No. 1 on the charts.
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"I remember we were in the hotel room and my mom just started sobbing crying, and my dad started crying. And I'm standing there going, 'What? What is this? What are you guys doing?' And then, from there, he was everywhere again."
That said, Meat Loaf did not call it a comeback. "I didn't go anywhere," Aday recalled her father saying at the time. "I've never stopped playing. I've never stopped performing. I've always been here. You guys are just now recognizing that."
One thing Meat Loaf "hated," however, was the phrase "rock star." Aday claims, "He would want me to say, 'I'm not a rock star. I'm not a legend. I'm a singer, I'm an actor, I'm a lot of things, but I'm not those two words.'"
When asked to elaborate, Aday suggested the phrase was perhaps "just cliche" in her father's mind. Meat Loaf simply didn't see himself as one kind of person.
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"That's how he performed," she says. "And that's why his performances, his live performances, were unlike anything else, because in his mind, in his heart and his soul every night, he was giving you a Broadway performance. He wasn't just coming out and singing songs from an album … It was a show."
With that in mind, Aday hopes her father will be remembered for all of his talents, both in and out of the spotlight. "He was a singer, he was an actor, he was a father, a husband, he was a grandpa," she explains. "It was Papa Meat to my nephew. He was everything."
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images Meat Loaf in 1993
Aday reveals both she and Pearl rushed to Nashville to be with their father after receiving a call informing them that his health "was declining very rapidly, more rapidly than expected."
"As soon as we could, we just went to his bedside at the hospital and just sat with him and held his hand," Aday recalls, adding that she is "very thankful" that both she and her sister had a chance to see their father before he died.
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Meat Loaf was surrounded by some of his closest friends shortly before he died, with people flying in from across the country to see him one last time, Aday says.
"My dad, as far as our tour family, that's what we call it ... He's the boss, but we're a family," she continues.
During the visit, Aday says each person had a moment of "sweet and funny" confessions from her father, who maintained his personality. "He flipped a couple of us off, which is very dad, very appropriate," she admits. "That's a good sign. He's there. He's joking."
Aday, who is recently engaged, had hoped her father would be able to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. In fact, Meat Loaf was the one to encourage her now-fiancé, a fellow performer who goes by the name Chill, to pop the question.
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In September, Meat Loaf came out for one of Chill's shows in Nashville, after which he asked Aday's then-boyfriend, "When are you going to marry my daughter?" His next words, Aday says, were "because you've got to do it so I can walk her down the aisle before I die."
Chill told the rocker, "I'm planning on it, Meat. I love her," Aday says. Her father replied, "Well, I love you. And I know you love her. And so let's make this happen."
Pete Still/Redferns Meat Loaf
Aday says her fiancé and her father "actually texted every day" while making "secret plans" for a special proposal. Meat Loaf, she adds, "wanted to make sure I had some kind of over the top" event, noting it "would only be appropriate."
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Once in Nashville to visit her father during his final days of life, Aday says she told her father to "get strong" so he could still walk her down the aisle. Meat Loaf softly said "Okay," before asking "When?"
"And I said, 'As soon as you're out of here, we'll go to the courthouse, if you want. We'll do it right away,'" she shares. "And he said, 'No courthouses, but okay, let's go.' So, and those were, not his final words, but his final words directly to me."
Plans for a memorial service and funeral are still in the works, Aday says. "But we certainly hope that there will be one and we plan to send a lot of invitations out to people that dad loved and respected and that we hope will want to be a part of that."