A Meat Loaf tribute artist from Lancashire is fighting a $100,000 (£64,000) writ from the US rock star, who accuses him of being a “cybersquatter and online imposter”.
Dean Torkington, 49, from Burnley, Lancashire, has used the MeatLoaf.org domain name since 2000. Torkington, who has performed his show To Hell And Back: (A Tribute to Meatloaf) for 16 years, argues that since he has shed 11 stone in the last two years, he could no longer be considered a “dead ringer” for the well-upholstered rocker.
The tribute artist accused the Bat Out of Hell singer of acting out of jealousy because the Meat substitute had received better reviews.
A writ, issued in Los Angeles using Meat Loaf’s real name Michael Aday, names Torkington as a “cybersquatter”. It claims he has “commercially exploited the internet top-level domain name MeatLoaf.org to capitalise on the artist’s celebrity”. The real Meat Loaf, 64, uses the website www.meatloaf.net.
“I have every intention of defending this to protect my good name and will not be bullied in this way,” said Torkington, whose Meat Loaf show incorporates dry ice, stadium lighting and an American Low Rider Chopper motorcycle. “I am not guilty of passing myself off as him.”
Torkington believes that his own original album, The Bat Strikes Back, angered Meat Loaf and provoked the writ . He asks: “Could the reason be it got a better review than Bat Out Of Hell 3 in Classic Rock Magazine?”
The Lancashire singer, whose website makes clear he is a tribute act, has diversified and now includes tributes to Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi in his show. His substantial weight loss has made it harder for him to convince as Meat Loaf.
Torkington says he will demand a substantial sum from Meat Loaf if he is to give up the domain. “It would cost me thousands to rebrand,” he said. “There are brochures, advertising and the paintwork on the van and other costs.”
His tribute show, advertised with the claim “You simply won’t find a more accurate portrayal of the Rock God Meat Loaf anywhere else”, has been praised by members of the real Dead Ringer For Love singer’s own band.
Torkington met Meat Loaf backstage after a Liverpool concert in 2003 and claims the star asked him to hand over the domain name for £1,300. He declined.
Whilst Torkington claims to be the number one Meat Loaf tribute act in Europe, the real thing has suffered a series of health problems, which has led him to cancel or cut short shows.
Torkington, whose next show is at the Crown Paints Social Club, Anchor Lane, Darwen a week on Saturday, said: “To be honest, losing all the weight wasn’t good for a Meat Loaf tribute act anyway. His pursuit of me through the courts has left me thinking differently about him. I do include some of his music in the show but I see it more as a tribute to the songs rather than the man.”
He added: “The show I do now is far better and appeals to a far wider audience, I don’t dress as Meat Loaf.”