Meat Loaf performs at the House of Blues in Dallas on Aug. 26, 2010.

Meat Loaf performs at the House of Blues in Dallas on Aug. 26, 2010.

Rex C. Curry

When he is introduced to the students and staff at Thomas Jefferson High School at 10 a.m. Friday as a member of the 2015 class of distinguished alumni, he does not want to be called Marvin Aday, his birth name, or even Michael, the name bestowed upon him by a judge many years ago.

"Meat Loaf. Just say Meat Loaf. Or Meat."

It is, he says, the name by which he has been known all his life. Long before he starred in Hair on Broadway in the late 1960s. Long before he recorded for Motown in 1971. Long before he appeared in Rocky Horror Picture Showthe stage production and the film. Long before his 1977 album Bat Out of Hell went on to sell 43 million copies. Long before he worked for legendary theater director Joe Papp, and long before he appeared in films ranging from Roadie to Leap of Faith (with Steve Martin) to the Spice Girls' Spice World to Fight Club.

"My father gave me the name Meat when I rolled out of the hospital," he says. That hospital was Baylor; the date of his birth, Sept. 24, 1947. "The 'Loaf' came later, at Cary Middle School, when I stepped on the [football] coach's foot. Everybody laughed. But everyone in eighth grade thinks everything's funny. The next day on my locker they taped a piece of paper that said 'Meat Loaf.'"

Meat - because, as we have established, that is his preferred moniker - returns to his high school Friday morning at 10 a.m. for the first time since he graduated in 1965. He will step on the very auditorium stage where his career began, when he starred in a production of The Bad Seed. Meat will be joined by other luminaries, among them oil-and-gas man Larry Dale, Leadership DISD founder Ken Barth and Fred Volcansek, who served as a Marine in Vietnam and went on to work in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Of the four, he's the only one to have an album top the Billboard 200 (with 1993′s Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, which featured the epic-length hit single "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)").

His father, Orvis Wesley Aday, was a Dallas police officer; Meat says that's how his dad came to be friends with, among others, Jack Ruby. His mother Wilma was a teacher in Dallas public schools for 25 years, spending the final decade of her life at F.P. Caillet Elementary in northwest Dallas, according to her Aug. 5, 1967, obituary in The Dallas Morning News. Meat left Dallas shortly after her death, hopping the first Braniff flight out of Dallas Love Field to Los Angeles.

"When she died it really freaked me out," he says. "I just blocked it. I still block it. That's why I left Dallas."

The man formerly known as Marvin: Meat Loaf as seen in his 1965 Thomas Jefferson High School yearbook

The man formerly known as Marvin: Meat Loaf as seen in his 1965 Thomas Jefferson High School yearbook

He lives just 200 miles down Interstate 35 in Austin, his home for the last three years. He seldom returns, though, save for the occasional concert or funeral. He was just here to help bury a fellow TJ classmate with a handful of Dallas friends with whom he remains in touch.

Meat lived in four houses in Dallas - first in Oak Cliff, then near Farmers Branch, then on Kendall Drive off Harry Hines Boulevard, then, finally, on Walnut Hill Lane near Thomas Jefferson. He cannot recall which house that was. "I've driven by there 15, 16 times trying to find it," he says. Maybe he will try again Friday, when he comes back to TJ, where he played football while discovering his love for acting. (A Sept. 26, 1964, Dallas Morning News article recounts his recovery of a key fumble during the then-Rebels' 27-0 walloping of Adamson High.)

A few days before his return to Thomas Jefferson for the first time in 50 years, Meat wasn't sure how he felt. Not anxious, not really. Not excited, certainly, because he likes to say he doesn't get excited. He wasn't excited when he won a Grammy for Best Solo Rock Vocal for "I'd Do Anything for Love." He wasn't excited when he won the BRIT Award for Best Selling Single for that same song. Same for everything else in his career, he says. No matter how big or small.

"I guess I'm weird," he says. Maybe, he says, it dates back to his first day in Hair at The Shubert Theatre, almost 45 years ago.

"My first day in the theater, my first show, I was going up the stairs, and I'm saying hi to everyone," he recalls. "I've been out of high school about four years at this point, and my accent is still really a thing. I am going, 'Hi, hi'" - he pronounces it hah, hah - "and this girl looks at me and goes, 'If I had a gun, I'd kill ya.'"

He knew why she'd said it. He was from The City That Killed John Kennedy, who he'd actually gone to see when he arrived at Love Field on Nov. 22, 1963. The woman's words stung. Still do.

"It'll probably mean more on the day instead of building it up in my head," he says of Friday's homecoming. "It'll be more about the moment. Bottom line, that's what it's about. The moment. I am not in that moment. I can't tell you about that moment. That's how I've lived my life. I live in the moment. I don't try to think too far ahead and go, 'Look what I've done.' You're only as good as what you're doing now. That's the truth."

On Friday Meat will address TJ students and staff with a brief speech he has already prepared. He does not want to spoil its message in advance. Still, he can't help but recall how being in The Bad Seed planted what would become an extraordinary career.

"These things happened, and they led to this without me knowing it at the time," he says. "It wasn't planned. You just have to be ready for the opportunities. Some people say, 'He got lucky.' Sure, because you make your own luck - by hustling, by networking, by really doing it and never giving up."

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