A total eclipse of a broken heart, as the music world fell into sadness today, with news of Monday’s passing of legendary songwriter, composer, and producer Jim Steinman. He was 73.
Steinman’s work spanned the gamut of genres, but he put a unique stamp on every one of his songs. His cinematic, unapologetically campy flair fueled everything from Meat Loaf’s 1977 smash-hit debut album Bat Out of Hell and its sequels, to Bonnie Tyler’s fiery scream epic Total Eclipse Of The Heart, but Steinman also had the Midas touch with none other than Sisters of Mercy. His extravagant production flair rocketed their tracks This Corrosion, Dominion/Mother Russia, and More right up to the stratosphere, whipping up wild operatic melodrama around Andrew Eldritch’s gruff monotone.
“My songs are anthems to those moments when you feel like you’re on the head of a match that’s burning,” Steinman told Rolling Stone. “They’re anthems to the essence of rock & roll, to a world that despises inaction and loves passion and rebellion. They’re anthems to the kind of feeling you get listening to Be My Baby by the Ronettes. That’s what I love about anthems — the fury, the melody, and the passion.”
In short, Jim Steinman was a wizard of sonic integration. Gothic rock simply would not exist without Steinman’s theatrical noodling in earlier glam rock outfits, reviving flamboyance and theatricality in a world growing weary of relentless punk chords. He melded seemingly disparate sounds in a cauldron: musical theatre! opera! cinema! glam rock! …Manilow! and the world drank it right up. Ignoring boundaries, Steinman’s credo was “If you don’t go over the top, you can’t see what’s on the other side.” The LA Times once described the virtuoso as the “Richard Wagner of Rock and Roll” and Steinman is often credited as “Father of the Power Ballad.” His songs have sold more than 190 million copies globally; over the course of his career, he was nominated for four Grammys, and took home the 1996 Album of the Year award for his work on Celine Dion’s Falling Into You. Jim Steinman truly did it all.
A statement posted on Steinman’s Facebook page read:
“It’s with a heavy heart that I can confirm Jim’s passing. There will be much more to say in the coming hours and days as we prepare to honor this giant of a human being and his glorious legacy. For now, do something that makes you feel young, happy and free. He’d want that for you!”
Bill Steinman told the Associated Press that his brother died from kidney failure near his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Listen to Steinman’s work with Sisters of Mercy below: