Deemed an industry “has-been” after a long commercial slump, Meat Loaf defied expectations with his 1993 comeback hit I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). This global chart-topper even won Meat Loaf his first (and only) Grammy Award, for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo – strange, as the song is not a solo endeavour. In its final minutes, the late rocker duets passionately with a raspy-voiced Geordie called Lorraine Crosby. Their to-and-fro is electric, though Crosby’s appearance on the record was unplanned.
The youngest of four children, Crosby grew up in poverty in the Newcastle suburb of Walker. She lost her father in a car accident when she was only two years old. Drawn to the eccentricity of David Bowie and the soulfulness of Motown, she honed her vocal skills in the church choir.
But Crosby did not always sing with the gravelly texture we hear on I’d Do Anything For Love. “I had this really high, thin voice,” she says, likening her tone to Blondie’s Debbie Harry. By her 20s, Crosby was touring worldwide across United States Air Force bases, performing multiple shows a night with her band. “It was gruelling, and I was drinking like crazy,” she admits. “We were a proper rock and roll band, tequila shots and Jack Daniels. The amount of singing and drinking, they don’t mix. My voice got rougher and rougher and rougher.”
However, her voice impressed late composer Jim Steinman, who was sent a demo of original songs Crosby had recorded with her husband, Stuart Emerson. The mastermind behind Meat Loaf’s seminal Bat Out of Hell album and Wagnerian epics like Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, Steinman flew the couple over to New York and promptly signed them to his short-lived management company Arrested Development, eventually securing them a recording contract with Meat Loaf’s label MCA Records. The couple sold their house in Newcastle and moved to New York, later living in Los Angeles.
Steinman was “one of the greatest people I’ve ever met in my life,” says Crosby, remembering his tendency to order virtually everything off the menu when dining. “He and I, after copious amounts of alcohol, would sit in the back of the limo singing show tunes.” She recalls long conversations between Steinman and her husband concerning the arrangements for Meat Loaf’s comeback album Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, on which Crosby and Emerson arranged and sang backing vocals. “We’re all over the album like a rash.”
Yet Crosby was never supposed to duet with Meat Loaf. One day, Steinman invited her to sit in on a Bat Out of Hell II recording session. It so happened that Meat Loaf was tackling the Steinman-penned I’d Do Anything For Love. It was then unclear which female singer would duet with Meat Loaf in the song’s coda. Melissa Etheridge was approached but ultimately passed. MCA’s Vice President of A&R Bruce Dickinson tells me that Bonnie Tyler and Cher were also being considered.
Meat Loaf was struggling to record his part without a female vocal to play off. So, Crosby stepped up. Given free rein by Steinman to interpret his lyrics as she desired, she went into the recording booth with Meat Loaf and sang the song twice. “This was never meant to be kept,” she clarifies about her impromptu vocal. “This was just me helping out on the day.”
“Meat Loaf called me up six months after I sang the vocal,” Crosby recounts giddily. “He said, ‘Lorraine, do you mind if I keep the vocal on the album?’ And I was absolutely delighted!” (She wonders momentarily whether Steinman, aware of Meat Loaf’s occasional stubbornness, orchestrated the whole thing and convinced Meat Loaf it was his idea.) Telling Crosby that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Meat Loaf rejected her request to re-do her take.
He was right. Crosby’s performance is incandescent. She revels in Steinman’s melodramatic poetry, howling the song’s most ridiculous yet brilliant line: “Would you hose me down with holy water if I get too hot?” Crosby laughs: “Who would come up with a lyric like that? Come on! Jim all over.” She was credited in the liner notes as “Mrs Loud,” the name under which she planned to release her own material. “[Meat Loaf] used to call me ‘Mrs. Loud,’” Crosby explains, “because when I was testing the microphone to do the vocal, they were cracking like crazy.” The song’s international success would be the perfect promotion for the upcoming Mrs Loud album. She was thrilled.
Until she saw the music video. In the Beauty and the Beast-inspired video, model Dana Patrick lip syncs to Crosby’s vocal. “That really upset me,” Crosby confesses. “Everybody thought she was singing, and it didn’t do me any credit. That’s the only bad thing I’ve got to say about the whole experience.” Indeed, Patrick tells me she was contacted by several record labels after the video’s release.
Unfortunately, Crosby’s own recording ambitions fell victim to industry machinations. The Bat Out of Hell II album, which Steinman laboured over for several years, had gone grossly over-budget. Feeling scapegoated by the label, Dickinson was dismissed by MCA after being told they were disappointed with the quality and expense of the album. “When he got fired, we got dropped,” says Crosby, one of Dickinson’s signees. “The company was very wary of doing another project with Jim,” Dickinson adds.
Separating amicably from Steinman’s management company, Crosby and her husband returned to the North East of England. Stints with different management did not work out, which Crosby attributes in part to the changing musical tides of the 1990s. “We ended up so skint that I went back to cabaret, working in social clubs and holiday parks just to keep our head above water,” she says, though she now works comfortably as a jobbing musician. She recently provided backing vocals on Sam Fender’s 2021 album Seventeen Going Under.
Crosby independently released her debut album Mrs Loud in 2008. (It contains different songs to those Crosby hoped to release in the 1990s, except for the gospel-influenced power ballad Follow Your Heart.) She is now recording an original rock and blues album (due for release early 2025) which she plans to tour in small venues across the UK.
She has spoken publicly about recording I’d Do Anything For Love on occasion, once on the Justin Lee Collins Show in 2009 and later when auditioning for BBC’s The Voice in 2013. She knew she would not get past the celebrity judges, primarily using the opportunity for television exposure. Meat Loaf posted on Facebook to complain about the BBC’s editing of Crosby’s backstory and the implication she had been exploited. Crosby agrees, stating categorically that Meat Loaf always championed her, telling her she “owned” her part in their duet.
Crosby is also keen to address confusion around the payment for her work. “I didn’t get paid for the session. I wasn’t hired to do a session. I happened to be there and I was helping out,” she clarifies. “Six months later, I didn’t even think to ask for payment because I was so thrilled it was going on the album.” She does get performer royalties whenever the song is played, but, initially unaware of this entitlement, claimed too late on the royalties accrued in the first six years of the song’s release.
Though it was not a precursor to rock superstardom, Crosby has nothing but pride for her serendipitous experience recording I’d Do Anything For Love. “It was my finest moment vocally,” she believes, still greeted by rock fans who laud her performance thirty years on. “Something happened in that moment with Meat Loaf, never to be recreated.”