33 Years Ago: Meat Loaf Leads All-Star Cast in ‘Roadie’
Before he scored such notable movie roles as the Spice Girls‘ bus driver in ‘Spice World’ or as Bitch Tits Bob in ‘Fight Club,’ Meat Loaf made his big-time leading man debut in ‘Roadie,’ a 1980 comedy about … well, a roadie.
It may not sound like the most interesting setup for a film, but director Alan Rudolph made the most of it, lining up a seriously impressive list of cameos from the likes of Alice Cooper, Roy Orbison, ‘Soul Train’ host Don Cornelius, Hank Williams, Jr. and members of Blondie and Asleep at the Wheel. Meat Loaf played Travis W. Redfish, a truck driver who’s lured into the rock-star lifestyle when he becomes (yep, you guessed it) a roadie for a traveling show. The movie’s poster promised a madcap comedy with the tagline “Bands make it rock … roadies make it roll.”
Meat Loaf filmed the picture during the protracted lull between his career-defining smash hit LP ‘Bat Out of Hell’ and its troubled follow-up, 1981′s ‘Dead Ringer’ — a period in which he was forced to take time off from singing after losing his voice. Even though he was coming off such a major success, it was somewhat of a low point for the singer, who was struggling with substance-abuse issues and generally out of shape. (Also, according to one extra on the ‘Roadie’ shoot, he was a “thoughtless butthole,” but you can’t please everyone all of the time.)
Sadly, audiences proved largely uninterested in rolling with ‘Roadie’; it grossed a paltry $4.2 million during its box-office run, and critics were less than kind. Roger Ebert, for example, while crediting Meat Loaf with being a “large, cheerful, reasonably engaging performer,” complained that the singer never had a chance to shine because “The movie’s so genial, disorganized and episodic that we never really care about the characters, and yet whenever someone starts to sing, the performance is interrupted for more meaningless plot development.”
But like a lot of movies that flopped on the big screen, ‘Roadie’ has gone on to enjoy a relatively healthy life on home video. In fact, it will make its Blu-ray debut in August, so you can finally see ol’ Travis W. Redfish in all of his hi-def glory.