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The story of how Meat Loaf entertained 12,000 people at Leeds Castle in 2005 as rockstar dies aged 74


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As fans mourn the loss of one of the world's most flamboyant and theatrical rock stars, we take a look back at Meat Loaf's outstanding performance in Kent.

The American singer, known for hits such as Bat Out Of Hell, has died at the age of 74, his family has announced.

Meat Loaf performed in front of 12,000 people at Leeds Castle
Meat Loaf performed in front of 12,000 people at Leeds Castle
Meat Loaf was described as "a real gentleman" when he visited Kent in 2005
Meat Loaf was described as "a real gentleman" when he visited Kent in 2005

Meat Loaf, real name Marvin Lee Aday, attracted thousands of fans when he performed at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, back in 2005.

He was performing with acts such as Will Young, Van Morrison and Ronan Keating in the summer nights of music event at the castle.

As the rockstar, then 58, entertained a 12,000 strong crowd in rainy weather with countless hits he had a run in with a holy lady and offered her shelter from the storm.

The Reverend Shirley Birch, who had taken time out from duties at St Peter's Church, Halfway, on the Isle of Sheppey, was attending the concert after a gift from her family.

At the time Shirley's daughter Shelley Harstad explained the "warm and friendly" star even signed her mother's Bible.

Meat Loaf appeared in multiple films, including Fight Club and Wayne's World
Meat Loaf appeared in multiple films, including Fight Club and Wayne's World
Rev Shirley Birch of St. Peter's Church, Halfway, Sheerness with her Meatloaf tee-shirt and autographed bible
Rev Shirley Birch of St. Peter's Church, Halfway, Sheerness with her Meatloaf tee-shirt and autographed bible

She said: "We wanted to give my mum a special treat so we got a gold ticket for her and she went with my son Leif."

The gold tickets were a passport to back stage and the pair were guided there before the concert was due to start, along with three other people.

Shirley added: "Meat Loaf ushered us into his caravan, sat us down and offered us the food he'd just been making called 'Sloppy Joe' it was mince and rice.

"He was really warm, friendly and generous with his time. He said we couldn't possibly go out in the rain and then asked us where we'd come from and what we did."

He was enchanted when Shirley explained she came from the Isle of Sheppey where she was a vicar, and promptly signed her Bible.

Thousands of people gathered to see Meat Loaf at Leeds Castle in 2005
Thousands of people gathered to see Meat Loaf at Leeds Castle in 2005
The Castle grounds, Leeds Castle, Maidstone as Meatloaf plays to a 12,000 strong audience
The Castle grounds, Leeds Castle, Maidstone as Meatloaf plays to a 12,000 strong audience

Rev Birch praised the rockstar as a "real gentleman" and went on to conduct her next Sunday service with her Meat Loaf T-shirt under her robes.

A statement from his family explained the star died with his wife Deborah at his side.

It read: “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side. Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.

“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.”

The Castle grounds, Leeds Castle, Maidstone. 08.07.05 Meatloaf plays to a 12,000 strong audience in the grounds of Leeds Castle. Photo by Barry Goodwin. (54410781)
The Castle grounds, Leeds Castle, Maidstone. 08.07.05 Meatloaf plays to a 12,000 strong audience in the grounds of Leeds Castle. Photo by Barry Goodwin. (54410781)
Flamboyant rockstar Meat Loaf performed in front of thousands at Leeds Castle in 2005
Flamboyant rockstar Meat Loaf performed in front of thousands at Leeds Castle in 2005

The post added: “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 your understanding of our need for privacy at this time.

“From his heart to your souls… don’t ever stop rocking!”

The singer sold millions of albums worldwide, with the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy among his most popular musical offerings.

Hit single I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) reached number one in 28 countries and earned him a Grammy award.

The rocker also played the role of Eddie in the 1975 musical film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and in 2016 was honoured with the Hero Award at the annual Q Awards music ceremony, which he dedicated to everyday heroes and called on people to “bring love back into this world”.

Meat Loaf, who has died at the age of 74, put on a thrilling show at Leeds Castle in 2005
Meat Loaf, who has died at the age of 74, put on a thrilling show at Leeds Castle in 2005
Meat Loaf plays to a 12,000 strong audience in the grounds of Leeds Castle
Meat Loaf plays to a 12,000 strong audience in the grounds of Leeds Castle

His career spanned more than just music, with the musician also featuring in a string of films including 1999’s Fight Club and 1992’s Wayne’s World.

Meat Loaf had spoken openly about health issues that had plagued him, notably asthma, which caused him to collapse on stage during a concert in Pittsburgh in 2011, and in 2003 he collapsed at Wembley Arena in London and was admitted to hospital.

His long music career saw him release more than 10 albums, with his final studio album, Braver Than We Are, released in 2012.

Singer Cher has been among the people remembering the musician, saying said she had “so much fun” when she worked with him on his 1981 album Dead Ringer.

In a tribute posted to Twitter, she added: “Am Very Sorry For His Family, Friends, & Fans.”

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