Meat Loaf sues for right to be a 'Bat out of Hell'
MEAT LOAF, the rock singer, is suing his former friend and songwriter for $50 million (£27 million) over the right to use the phrase “Bat Out of Hell”.
The singer, whose real name is Michael Aday, made his name with the Bat Out of Hell album in 1977, but claims that he has been blocked from using it for his next record after he fell out with his collaborator, Jim Steinman.
Steinman produced two albums with Aday — Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell — but their friendship foundered during negotiations for a third album, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose.
Steinman’s company, Bat Out of Hell Inc, registered the trademark for the title in 1995 and holds a variety of marks for the name at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Aday’s lawyers allege that Steinman, the composer of the original song, and his manager David Sonenberg have attempted to disrupt the release of the third album in October. “This contention is blackmail and a hold-up,” the lawsuit claims.
Aday, 58, believes that he is entitled to use the name because Steinman has never objected previously. He claims that he offered Steinman a position to produce and write on the third album, but the songwriter declined.
Winston Simone, the executive producer of the album, said that he had offered a generous fee. “Along with Jim’s lawyer, we had negotiated by far the best producer agreement that we had ever seen,” he said. “Unfortunately, Jim decided not to sign the agreement or accept the very substantial advance.”
Steinman then approached Meat Loaf’s record labels, Universal and Virgin, to assert that the trademark belonged to him, according to Aday’s representatives.
The complaint alleges that the songwriter used the trademark “as the basis of a campaign to undermine and interfere with” Meat Loaf’s concert, album and tour.
Louis Miller, Aday’s lawyer, said that his client wanted to prevent his former songwriter from using the name. “Meat Loaf will not be bullied by anyone. He will continue to use the title ‘Bat Out of Hell’ in any way he wants.”
Steinman could not be reached for comment.
The pair first met in the early 1970s when Aday appeared in Steinman’s musical More Than You Deserve. The pair collaborated on the first Bat Out of Hell album but plans for a second were delayed after they released solo albums.
Steinman eventually sued Aday to prevent him from using his songs on the singer’s 1983 album, Midnight at the Lost and Found, but the pair rekindled their relationship less than a decade later. In 1993, the pair created Bat Out of Hell II, which included the runaway hit single I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That). The combined sales of the first two albums is more than 50 million worldwide.
Aday has only one trademark listed in the US Patent office for “Bat Out of Hell”, for CDs, DVDs and video tapes. All other marks for the name, including television productions and posters, are owned by Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell Inc.
But the British trademark is registered to Meat Loaf himself. The singer also applied for the European trade mark in April.
The singer has also forged a career as a character actor in films such as Fight Club.
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