Meat Loaf and Me
(The Early days)
by Rick Bozzo
featuring the bands:
featuring the bands:
NEW! Go to Part 2
I met Marvin Lee Aday (alias Meat Loaf) in the summer of 1967 at a local head shop called The Peace of Mind in Encino, CA. I was 14 and extremely mature and had a whole year of playing bass guitar behind me with my first group, the Winding Roads. ML was sitting on the back of his Chevy Impala in the parking lot, playing acoustic guitar. I thought there was something special about this guy even then. At that time, I knew about twenty songs, mostly Beatles, Rolling Stones and Motown tunes. Meat Loaf was already eager to get a band together At the time he was living with a guitarist, a fellow Texan, Don Burns. He needed a place to stay. I told him that my Mom was pretty hip and he could probably stay at my place for a few days. Within 48 hours, we had eaten my mom out of the house and home and had to make other arrangements.
We started putting a band together, recruiting some of the members of the Winding Roads, all of whom happened to live in my neighborhood. We had a lot of trouble getting rehearsal time, because the neighbors would keep calling the cops about the loud music coming out of the garage. The truth of the matter was, the guitarist from "The Electric Prunes", Jimmy (Weasle) Spaggnola lived around the corner from me. He and his brother Gary had a rehearsal studio and they let us make use of it.
"Meat Loaf Soul" in Search of a Band House:
Before Meat Loaf Soul decided to go to Michigan we went out looking for a house for the band up off of Mollholland drive in the Santa Monica Mt. in sunny Southern California. We happened to come across what appeared to be an abandoned house just what we where looking for. The guitar player Dennis Mango who just happened to be good with picking at things so we gained entry quickly. Once we walked in n saw the huge front room we immediately thought "what a great practice". So from there we headed up stairs and checked it out the bedrooms "fantastic we thought" and how perfect this place would be. Next we went out on the balcony to have a "smoke" as Meat leaned back on the banister of this two story A-framed house, the railing gave way and like a slow motion picture we watched Meat as he lunged what would have possibly killed any one of us. Of course we all panicked, but swiftly made it downstairs to find out that he had done more damage to the asphalt drive way then to himself. As we where helping him up we had noticed that his head was bleeding, so we took him to the near by hospitable in Encino Ca, where we found out he had a fractured wrist. When they found out we couldn't pay they just shoot Meat up with some Demerol or perhaps Morphine and sent us on down to LA's county hospitable. the drugs where taking full affect on Meat by now as he started to sing "Ol Man River".
by early in 1968, Meat Loaf had raised a little money and he was eager to put it toward recording some music. Meat Loaf, Gary Spaggnola and myself went into Gold Star Recording Studios on Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood, CA and cut three songs: "Way of My Own" (written by Gramm Nash originally intended for the "Electric Prunes"), and a couple of Meat Loaf originals called 'Deep River Blues" and "I'm an Animal". Meat Loaf had been a folk-rock singer, adding the electric guitar and bass gave the music more of a rock appeal. Our next thought was that we needed a drummer. As I was standing outside of the studio taking a cigarette break, I saw a guy walking down the street with drumsticks and a music book in his hand. Peter Woodman agreed to lay down drum tracks for us if we would have his wife, Susie, play keyboards and sing. We jumped on it, and the band was born. Next we were in search of a guitar player, going through several over next several weeks. Finally, Frankie Montoya added his sound to the lineup. At this time we opened for Van Morrison and "Question Mark and the Mysterians" at the Cave. We played at Cal State Northridge opening for Taj Mahal and "Big Brother and the Holding Company" featuring Janis Joplin. Peter led us to Michigan where he already had a following as drummer for Question Mark and the Mysterians" and "The Bossman", featuring Dick Wagner and Mark Farner, who later was leader of "Grand Funk Railroad".
Young Bozzo playing the Teenage Fair at the Hollywood Palladium
with his first band, The Winding Roads
As "Meatloaf Soul" one of our first gigs at Huntington Beach at the "Cave". |
We were the opening band for "Them" featuring Van Morrison.
THE DAY MEATLOAF FLIPPED IN
Sometimes, something happens that crystallizes an idea or a concept of a dream, so clearly that it becomes a path or a shining light that beckons one to follow. You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is what you've been waiting for. Well, this is what happened to MEAT that day we dropped acid over at a friends in Encino. It was a school day for me and I wasn't into getting too high. I took maybe a half a hit of sunshine. MEAT, in his usual extravagant fashion, and not having to get up early for 9th grade geometry, took 2 or 3 tabs. I went off to watch the kid who lived there throw his guts up, and MEAT found his way out to the garden and was in deep conversation with the bird bath. Meanwhile, I'm coming on and I have to get home so I went out to find him. I called out to him and he told me he was talking to GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE, and he wasn't going to surrender no matter who tells him to. "I'm sorry, General, but that is something I cannot do. No Sir, No way." My troops are going to stay here and fight to the bitter end! We will prevail! I said MEAT, that's a birdbath, man! What are you doing? I had no concept of time but this conversation went on for quite awhile. When we finally started to come down enough, to be able to give me a ride home, he told me that it all became clear to him now and that he had a grip on what it was all about and what his mom always told him about being special and having a destiny to fulfill. He said "Here's the scenario, Ricky, I'm the biggest locomotive you've ever seen barrelling down the tracks at full speed, and you can choose to either couple on to me and go for the ride of your life, or you can remain here at the station." This was just a couple weeks before we left for Michigan the first time. It was "iffy" whether I was going to go or not because I was only sixteen then. My mom eventually let me go for the summer on the condition I return home and to school in the fall. As if I was having way too much fun playing a rock 'n roll band a million miles from home.
Shortly after we arrived in Michigan, guitarist Frank Montoya left the band to join "Question Mark and the Mysterions". By this time we had acquired still another guitar player, a Detroit born player whom we called Wild Bill. I never did find out his real name. We changed the name of the band to Popcorn Blizzard. We went through a half a dozen guitar players at that time. Here's one of our first band shots:
In this picture, from left to right, are Meat, Susie, Me (Boz), Wild Bill (I used to call him Lurch) and Peter. We're sitting in the home of our backer, Mrs. Gerstacker. Mrs. G financed the band, bought us new equipment, new clothes and these publicity photos. This in turn led to "Popcorn Blizzard" recording on Majenda Records a song entitled "Once Upon a Time/ Hello". Our next step was to find a booking agent, and we were lucky to get found by Michal Quatro (his little sister Suzi Quatro, who was maybe 14 then, used to come and watch us play sometimes).
|PHOTO # 1 on the left the bands line up for the first recording (once upon a Time/Hello) on Magenta Records Cat #001. Line up consists of Michael Jean on guitar/vocals, Meatloaf ringmaster and lead singer, Rick Bozzo on bass and backup vocals, Pete Woodman on drums and whistles, and Suze Cane on keyboards and vocals. PHOTO#2 ( MEAT LOAF SOUL?) which appears in Meatloafs's autobiography "TO HELL AND BACK", BY DAVID DALTON. The guitarists name was Wild Bill Hodges AKA (Lurch). Over the next several months the band went through a halfdozen different guitar-pickin' guitar players, all of whom had very different styles which would alter the bands sound drastically. The last and the best of these players was Christopher Correll from Saginaw, Mich. Unfortunately, that didn't work out either. So at that point we decided TO HELL WITH GUITAR PLAYERS, and we started playing as a power trio, with Meatloaf taking center stage.|
When we were ready to make our first professional recording for MAGENTA RECORDS, catalogue #0001 as POPCORN BLIZZARD, Once Upon A time/Hello, we used the same recording studio that ?MARK AND THE MYSTERIANS recorded their big hit single "96 Tears". The sound engineer figured he had the hit settings all figured out at the time, which worked well for ?MARK because he had soft speaking type of a voice that needed a lot of support. The engineer had set all his recording levels to accommodate his concept of what a hit record should sound like. So when MEATLOAF steps up to the mike, the guy says "Son, let's hear what you got. Stand six inches from the mike, sing into it and try not to move". Meat bellows out an incredibly loud not that sounded like Paul Bunyan: WOOHOOAOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!
You could see the sound man cringe. He was also the owner of the studio. He was afraid his power amps were going to blow. He then made the comment "Where did you learn to sing son? Step back a few feet and try it again". Now MEAT was determined to be heard so he sang twice as loud, and the speakers reflected that. The engineer and MEAT positioned the mike where he was standing until the mike ended up across the room separated by a 4 X 4 foot baffle. He told him to sing towards the ceiling, bounce off the wall on the other side of the room and hit the mike, which was hidden behind the baffle. It sounded like it was recorded in the Harlem Tunnel.
Revised excerpt from Saginaw News: Opening the show with the newest and most refreshingly unexpected sound of the night was the Floating Circus starting with their rendition of Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock. The band played a wide variety of covers and original tunes, including the crowd pleasing version of the Yardbirds Smokestack Lightening, which also included another one of Woodman's tub-thrashing drum solos, where he would stop in the middle of it and should out "THERE COMES A TIME IN EVERYBODY'S LIFE WHERE THEY GET THE SHIT KICKED OUT OF THEM, AND THESE DRUMS ARE NO EXCEPTION!!" He then commenced to beat the holy shit out of his green fur covered drum set with plastic baseball bats. However, unlike Keith Moon of The Who, he didn't destroy his drums, but the crowd always seemed to go wild. With Meatloaf now taking center stage as the ringmaster and wearing his soon-to-be signature tuxedo with red cummerbund, barefoot of course, bellowed out the Lee Michaels' anti-Vietnam war anthem The War that elicited deep emotional and tearful responses from the audience. With Rick Bozzo on bass, with beaded Indian vest, buckskin chaps and multi-effect bass sounds that really filled the room, swinging his super long hair to the beat, way before the head bangers started doing Sexy Suzy as the beautiful swan, on keyboards/flute & background vocals, blended to make the bank look & sound unique.
This was the beginning of things to come for Meatloaf's imagery of Beauty and the Beast. The Floating Circus had finally found it's niche. There is a rare, high quality recording from that night lost somewhere. Most bands at the time were guitar oriented by not having a guitar player had only made the Circus more sought out as a major league act. It was also the band's very first major standing ovation, which we had never experienced before. Also playing that night, was Bob Seger, Brownsville Station, and Ted Nugent, who the crowd really came to see but that night, we got not one, but two encores which really blew our collective minds. WOW!! Did that really happen? Soon, we started getting offers from all corners. Mike Quatro, who had been doing his best trying to keep us booked, all of a sudden was besieged with offers. We had played the Grande Ballroom before but now we were asked to be one of the few rotating house bands.
|We were now sharing the bill with super groups like Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper, MC5, Small Faces, and The Who on occasion. At one of these concerts, Rick rescued Keith Moons' bass drumhead before he was able to demolish it. He even managed to get it autographed by John Entwhistle and Keith Moon himself, who were just hanging around having fun with us. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townnsend had left to go take care of the band's business. There were several people trying to grab the autographed drumhead away from me. Pictured below is me with the bass drumhead. Just when things couldn't look brighter, egos started getting out of control. Musical directions started to diverge and by late 1969, the Floating Circus was ready to call it quits. The band's very last gig was a benefit to free political prisoner John Sinclair (Manager of the MC5).|
A few days later Rick, Meatloaf and M.L.s girlfriend, Jill Le Fore caught the Redeye Express out of Saginaw. But a lot of changes had occurred in the city since the summer of love. It definitely was the beginning of the end of peace and love, hastened by the Tate-La Bianca Murders, so when we got off the plane at LAX, looking like hippies with hair down to our waists, torn jeans, and black leather jackets, there was a very different vibe walking through the terminal. It seemed we maintained the Nuevo straight population of L.A. Everybody now had short hair & mustaches instead of tie dyed t-shirts & love bea... I guess they thought we might be part of the Manson Family. Man, people were walking away from us like Moses parting the Red Sea. We got to work right away putting together a new band but found it hard to find musicians to commit. The good ones had gigs and everybody else was either surfing, mentally messed up from drugs or had given up music for a cushy job working for their dads.
Disenchanted and almost broke again, Meat got a job parking cars in Hollywood which led him to an audition for a part in the musical HAIR at the Aquarius Theatre (formerly Hullabaloo). Subsequently, he got a part with the Detroit cast at the Vest-pocket Theatre right back where we just came from. (Continued in Part 2)...
By 1970, Meatloaf had landed a role in the Detroit cast of "HAIR" along with cast member, Shawn "Stoney" Murfey, who later recorded an L.P. at Hitsville U.S.A, Motown's white label, Rare Earth records as "STONEY & MEATLOAF". Rick Bozzo would soon follow, after receiving a call from Dick Wagner in July 1970, to take over for the departing "FROST", bassist Gordy Garris. This new line up lasted for several months before Wagner was offered a new deal with RCA for his super group "ERSA MAJOR." Rick Bozzo and the two original members Guitarist/Vocals Donny Hartman and Drummer/Singer Bob Rigg, would continue as a 3 piece band, before adding keyboardist Robyn Robbins, who later joined Capital Recording artist Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band. This band also included Actor/Singer Shawn Murfey on several of Segers' biggest sellers. Wagner, who had teamed up with ex-Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels guitarist, Steve Hunter, recorded and later toured with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed, while co-writing and or producing for a number of other local acts. And the rest... IS ROCK 'N' ROLL HISTORY.
As the Detroit production of Hair was nearing the end of it's run, Motown/Rare Earth Records quickly offered Meat Loaf and Stoney a one album deal which included the single What You See is What You Get. Following the release of this album, Meat Loaf was offered a the movie role for Rocky Horror Show.
When Rick returned to California, he formed a band with his long time friend, Stan Keiser, called Brass Knuckles. Rick convinced Ml to come and sing over some pre-recorded tracks. ML showed up in rare form with Sam Ellis, his road manager. For not knowing any of the songs and just winging it, Meat managed to knock out eight songs in two hours. Not bad considering he and Sam had to catch a flight back to New York later that day to go to work on the Broadway play, More Than You Deserve, with Jim Steinman. In 1976, RICK joined SABU and started playing venues like the San Diego Sports Arena, the Swing Auditorium, the Ice Palace in Pasadena, and the world famous Whiskey A Go-Go and the Starwood.
In April 1977 I received a telegram from Meat Loaf saying he was putting together a band and to call ASAP. A week later found me on a redeye to New Jersey . ML's road manager, Sam Ellis was there to meet me. We all went to dinner where I met singers Ellen Foley and Rory Dodd. After dinner we went to the Bottom Line in lower Manhattan to see Ronnie Spector and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes. At the end of the evening ML stuffed three hundred bucks in my hand and pointed across Central Park, in the vague direction of the Empire Hotel, which was at the opposite end of Central Park from where we stood and said, "your hotel is over there. Be back first thing for rehearsal tomorrow. And be careful, people are always getting mugged in the park at night. That was it. Have a nice walk, Ricky. The next day we got to work rehearsing at The Meat Loft in the garment district of Manhattan. MeatLoaf's manager and attorney, David Sonnenberg was also there with Harvey Brooks, the bass player for the Electric Flag. It was also the first time I met Jim Steinman, the pianist/composer/tunesmith behind Meat Loaf's biggest albums. I was facing the amp, tuning my bass and getting my sound when I hear a ruckus behind me. I turn around and saw a couple of the roadies arranging three music stands fairly close together.,I kind of thought that was strange, no matter. Then Jim Steinman comes walking over and pulls out a 7 page score for the first song, Bat out of Hell. He looks at me, smirks a little, and walks back to the piano, sits down and counted it off. I'm thinking, it's a little over the top. The vocals don't even start for three minutes. The next song was, Two out of Three Ain't Bad. I thought to myself, now that's a hit. So after learning side A of the album we started auditioning drummers and guitarists.
It's 1979, Meatloaf hemorrhages his vocal chords (most likely psychological), gets sued by everybody on his payroll, files bankruptcy and moves away to England. During this time, Meat records a dozen LP's, none of which captured the success of Bat out Of Hell. He also appeared in a number of movies, the best known was ROADIE, in which Art Carney co-starred with him, and also Fight Club as well as 25 other movies.
|Rick and Meatloaf reunite backstage in 2012|
To be continued...
Back to Part 1
Rick recently did an on-camera interview for the A & E biography channel (devoted to Meatloaf) with Todd Rundgren, Lou Adler, Amanda and Pearl Aday, Shawn Murphy aka "Stoney" & Meatloaf. This year, Rick also worked with former Meatloaf guitarist and Grammy winner Bob Kulick at his studio in North Hollywood, with female southern rock group Kona Wind. You can also read about Rick in Meatloafs' autobiography, TO HELL AND BACK with David Dalton (pages 83-97).
Rick has worked with many, many name bands and artists. To read about his interesting life in rock and roll, including his current activities, see Rick and rock history.
If you have something to contribute, question to ask, etc., please
Latest news Rick and rock history Songs and links Scrapbook Album credits Home page