Jim Steinman, Pop-Rock Hitmaker Responsible for Bat Out of Hell and Broadway’s Dance of the Vampires, Dies at 73
The composer’s works include songs made famous by Celine Dion, Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, and more.
Songwriter Jim Steinman, whose career spanned musical theatre and pop-rock, died April 19 at the age of 73. His death was confirmed to Variety by the state medical examiner of Connecticut.
While remembered through his hit songs recorded by such music legends as Celine Dion (“It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”), Bonnie Tyler (“Total Eclipse of the Heart”), and Meat Loaf (“I’d Do Anything for Love”), the Grammy winner began his career writing for the stage. His earliest credits include music for productions at Amherst College; it was through this he met Joseph Papp of the New York Shakespeare Festival (now the Public Theater), later working with him while establishing a career in NYC.
Mr. Steinman, after a string of hits through the late ‘70s and ‘80s, returned to his theatre roots to write the lyrics to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Whistle Down the Wind. After premiering in 1996 in Washington, D.C., to negative reviews, the musical abandoned a planned Broadway run. A reworked version opened in the West End two years later.
Between the U.S. and U.K. engagements of the musical, however, another one of Mr. Steinman’s lasting (and perhaps infamous) contributions to musical theatre made its world premiere: Tanz der Vampire (in English, Dance of the Vampires). The show, an adaptation of the film by Roman Polanski (who also helmed the stage version), bowed in Vienna in 1997 before finding success in Germany beginning in 2000.
A slew of controversies and tragedies—from a directorial shift due to Polanski’s criminal status in the U.S. to prolonged negotiations with star Michael Crawford to scheduling impacted by the September 11 terrorist attacks—all portended the show’s short life on Broadway, which after 61 previews, two delayed openings, and 56 performances, closed January 25, 2003, at the Minskoff Theatre.
More recently, Steinman’s music—particularly the discography of Meat Loaf—reached the stage in the musical Bat Out of Hell, inspired by Meat Loaf’s debut album of the same name and its two follows-ups. Based loosely on Peter Pan and set in a post-apocalypse NYC, the musical premiered in Manchester in 2017 before playing the West End, Toronto, and a North American tour. It reached New York in a limited run at City Center in 2019.
Mr. Steinman’s myriad other theatrical endeavors—most of which never quite reached the commercial stage—included a Batman musical, an adaptation of the John Waters film Cry-Baby (not the one that eventually made it to Broadway, however), and a musical about the life of Greta Garbo.