US singer and actor Meat Loaf has died aged 74

The US singer and actor Meat Loaf has died aged 74, his agent has confirmed.

Born Marvin Lee Aday and later legally known as Michael, the musician died on Thursday with his wife, Deborah Gillespie, by his side.

No cause of death was shared but unconfirmed reports suggested he had died of Covid-19.

“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,” his family said in a statement.

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

Aday was born in Dallas, Texas, on 27 September 1947. He was an only child, his mother a school teacher and gospel singer and his father a former police officer who developed alcoholism after being medically discharged from the US army during the second world war.

Aday acted in high school productions, studied at Lubbock Christian College and later North Texas State University.

After his mother’s death, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a car park attendant and formed his first group, Meat Loaf Soul, taking the name from a nickname given to him by a football coach.

Meat Loaf is survived by his wife, Deborah Gillespie, his daughter Amanda Aday and stepdaughter Pearl Aday from his first marriage to Leslie G Edmonds.

Despite the stage name, he was for a time a vegetarian.