An American songwriter, composer, arranger and Record Producer famed for his love of both Peter Pan and Rock and Roll clichés, Jim Steinman claims that he became enamoured of rock music at an early age when he heard a Fender Telecaster overloading a Marshall amplifier. His work, which he describes as "Wagnerian rock", is characterised by a sound that is simultaneously massive and low-key, combining influences ranging from Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound", Springsteen-influenced anthems of Townshendian teenage angst.
Steinman got his start in musical theatre, scoring, arranging and playing piano in a number of productions. He met Meat Loaf, then an aspiring singer and actor, when he auditioned for an off-Broadway musical composed by Steinman called More Than You Deserve and they began a partnership that lead to the massively successful album Bat Out of Hell.
Since then, he has worked as a prolific producer and composer. While more inclined to be involved in the behind-the-scenes aspects of the music business either as a composer or a producer, he does perform on occasion; in 1981 he released a solo album called Bad For Good (composed of material he originally intended for Meat Loaf, who was recovering from damaged vocal cords at the time), and has been a "special guest star" in a number of Meat Loaf's tours. Less directly, he assembled and guided the all-female rock group Pandora's Box in the late 1980s, and produced their one album, Original Sin.
Aside from his occasional reunions with Meat Loaf, he's collaborated in some capacity with artists such as Air Supply, Barry Manilow, Billy Squier, Barbra Streisand, Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
He maintains a labyrinthine web site where one can find not only his well-known material, but MP3s of songs from his unfinished magnum opus Neverland and the abandoned Batman the Musical.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He's famous for his eccentricity. When Meat Loaf told the story of his first meeting with Steinman on VH-1 Storytellers, he began with, "Have you ever seen Jim Steinman? He's one weird dude."
- Epic Rocking: His compositions tend to last a bit longer than the average pop song, and in some cases they're more like mini-operas with distinct movements than songs with verses and choruses. Steinman reportedly burst into tears when he heard that radio stations wouldn't play the twelve-minute album version of "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" (keep in mind that the single edit was pushing it at seven minutes, and it's still one of the longest songs to get to number one in America).
- Large Ham: Based on his bizarre spoken word interludes on Bat Out of Hell (the introduction to "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth"), and Bat Out of Hell II ("Wasted Youth", also on his album Bad For Good) he's quite possibly one of the Largest Hams who ever lived.
- Long Title: "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)," "Objects In the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are", and "Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back." The only things longer than the titles are the songs themselves.
- Love Nostalgia Song: Wrote more than a few of these. "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" is probably the most successful.
- Pop Star Composer: His greatest success in this capacity was composing the music for the enormously popular European Vampire Musical Tanz der Vampire. He also wrote the lyrics for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Whistle Down the Wind and was asked to score Batman the Musical before that project fell through.
- Record Producer: Comes under several of the categories listed on that page --
- Acrimony Producer: Steinman was infamously hired at the behest of the record company to produce the album Hysteria with Def Leppard after Mutt Lange initially decided to pull out. What should have been a Dream Team partnership promptly went south. Steinman wanted to produce a raw-sounding rock and roll record while the band wanted to make a more polished, Queen-style album. These differences proved irreconciliable, and Mutt Lange came back to take over.
- One Trick Pony: Most of his productions have grandiose, bombastic sounds, drawing influence from Bruce Springsteen, Phil Spector and classical composers such as Wagner.
- Rock Opera: Meat Loaf once explained that every song Steinman writes is treated as though it's part of his never-produced Neverland project, although only a few of his compositions have been identified as part of the potential production ("Lost Boys and Golden Girls" is only the most obvious).
- Self-Plagiarism: Steinman has a habit of reusing choice bits from earlier songs in later works. One of the most obvious is a bridge composed of repetitions of the line "Godspeed! Godspeed! Godspeed! Speed us away!" which has appeared in several different songs over the past 30 years.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Aside from the spoken word passages he has contributed to some Meat Loaf albums, Steinman performed lead vocals on the 1981 album Bad For Good after Meat lost his voice. Most critics noted that his singing turned out to be the weak link on an otherwise strong album.
- Teenage Death Songs: The title track on Bat Out of Hell is his most enduring homage to this style.
- What Could Have Been: In 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber asked Steinman to write the lyrics for his musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, but was turned down because Steinman was contractually obligated to produce for Def Leppard at the time.
- Batman The Musical -- judging by the MP3s on his website, this musical version of the first Tim Burton Batman movie would have been Crazy Awesome.