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Life after the Loaf

Perhaps better known for her raucous duets with one of America’s biggest rock stars, Patti Russo is now going it alone and she’s heading for Bury St Edmunds this month


he is best known as Meat Loaf's ‘Girl Friday’ in the rock opera Paradise by the Dashboard Light but Italian American Patti Russo is finally moving from the

shadows of being back up to America’s mighty rock star and at 50 is touring as a solo artist. Her current tour takes in the Apex, Bury St Edmunds, this month. “My mother was born outside of Naples and my father was Sicilian and brought up in New York. I was born in New Jersey and then we moved to upstate New York. That was a big culture shock, transplanted into a very real town without being surrounded by my big Italian family. The singing comes from my mother’s side of the family, my great uncle Mario (soon to be 97) was like the Pavarotti of his home town. When the family gets together it’s not long before everyone starts singing.” Whilst working in a hair salon and singing with a club band part time Patti noticed an advert in the Village Voicemagazine. “It just said international rock artist was looking for a comedic female vocalist with an open mind.” I applied and got the gig and it turned out to be singing with Meat Loaf promoting his album Bat Out of Hell II. “One minute I was singing for peanuts in clubs and the next thing I’m on a world tour with a number one selling album, it was insane.” Her regular work in the clubs prepared her for such a gruelling tour schedule “It prepared me for this opportunity so it felt like fitting into a comfortable pair of shoes; it felt like the right path for me.” Patti has never felt comfortable travelling from airport to airport. “I never have been a great flyer, so that took some getting used to and I finally conquered my fears. But then years later we were flying in from a gig in Hamburg and were landing

6 Apex-bound: American/Italian singer Patti Russo

in Manchester. I remember the city as very cold with lots of rain, no wonder everyone fights in Manchester now I know why – just to keep warm! “Anyway, we were landing and the plane began to fishtail. It felt like it was teetering back and forth and suddenly we took a left hand turn and ended up in the middle of a field as the pilot couldn’t stop the plane – so after all of my years of finally mastering my fear I was right back to the drawing board!” During her time singing with Meat Loaf one performance stood out. “It was when we played Madison Square Garden. It was February 1995 and the city was in the middle of a huge snow storm, however, we still managed to perform and a lot of my family and friends were part of the audience. It was a sell out and I remember singing Two out of Three Ain’t Bad on stage and looking out at them all and thinking I can’t believe I’m finally here after all the years of wanting it.” For nearly 20 years, Patti has been the perfect foil for Meat Loaf’s bombast including the mini opera Paradise By The

Dashboard Light. Meat Loaf himself called her “The imitable Patti Russo. She’s a great singer, actress, and comic with infallible timing.” But all that was about to change with an email.“It was surreal. He was telling me it was time to part our ways by email - it came out of nowhere, I really had no idea.” Since then there’s been no word.“I reached out to him - as I couldn’t understand - but sadly there’s still no communication between us. So eventually I had to let go and move on - the music industry is definitely not for the faint hearted.” After that experience Patti was hell-bent on getting back up on stage. “I didn’t know how I was going to create the show, or get the funds to do it, but I took the leap and I’m glad to say I’m back in the game. I’m finding I like me and I am finding new things about myself. I’ve lived through the darkness and now I’m feeling great and excited. I’ve pulled my big girl panties up and I’m now forging ahead!” For this her new solo tour Patti is joined on stage by some top musicians. “I have some really great guys to work with and the show is the storyline of my life so far, some music is my own original material and there’s more of my comedic side, plus plenty of the big standards you’d expect from me – it’s a chance for audiences to meet Patti.” Patti has sung the film soundtrack for Jim Carey’s The Grinch and written Take Good Care Of My Heart, which was featured in the film South Beach Dreams. In theatre she has taken the lead role of Esmeralda in the West End production of Notre Dame De Paris. “I just couldn’t believe that I was approached. As a child I’d dress up and sing into my mom’s candlesticks and imitate family members but when they asked me to do a show I was so

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