“Everybody in Port Dover calls me the guy from Meatloaf”

Rory Dodd inducted into the London Music Hall of Fame

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Rory Dodd may not be a household name, but his voice has appeared on recordings of numerous music legends who share the same name.

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His storied career as a backing singer earned the 68-year-old Simcoe, Ontario resident an induction into the Forest City London Music Hall of Fame last month.

Born in Port Dover, his mother Maureen Dodd was a well-known and respected music teacher.

At the age of four he learned to sing Irish folk songs from his brother Cal, who later became a jazz singer and jingle singer.

The brothers were involved in a rock version of Hamlet for CBC radio that went to Broadway in New York City where it was known as Rock-A-Bye Hamlet.

On his first day in the Big Apple, Rory’s life would change forever.

At a rehearsal for the Broadway show, Rory met Michael Lee Aday, better known as Meatloaf. The following day, Meatloaf introduced the young Port Dover singer to legendary songwriter/producer Jim Steinman.

The pair performed for Rory the entire forthcoming Bat Out of Hell album written by Steinman, which went on to sell more than 50 million copies.

Steinman was so impressed with Rory as a backing singer that they continued a working relationship for many years to come.

Along the way, he teamed up with fellow backing vocalist Eric Troyer and the pair were dubbed The Blendo’s.

“I don’t read music,” Rory admitted. “We went in, listened to the tune and went out and did it. We must have made a few hundred records together. We had the time of our lives.”

Word of the duo’s vocal prowess spread throughout the music industry, leading to work for Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow and Celine Dion.

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“You walk into a studio and there’s Billy Joel, Lou Reed or James Taylor and Carly Simon on the same day,” Rory recalls. “And these are the people I heard on the radio as a teenager, and then you’re in New York and in the studio with them.

“That’s stunning for a boy from Port Dover.”

Rory sang on all but one of the songs on Billy Joel’s 1983 album An Innocent Man, and at one point sang simultaneously on the #1, 2, and 3 chart-topping songs. Total Eclipse of the Heart, a duet he sang with Bonny Tyler, reached #1; Making Love Out of Nothing At All by Air Supply at number 2 and Tell Her About It by Billy Joel at number 3.

The advent of disco music meant less work for Rory, who would normally have made $150 an hour.

“You don’t make money from rock ‘n’ roll, (so) you have to find another way,” he remarked. “Well, I sang jingles. You go in, sing for an hour and you can make $15,000 if it works.”

Rory has sung such notable jingles as Be All You Can Be for the US Army; We deliver for you for the United States Postal Service, along with tunes for Coca-Cola and several brands of beer.

“The game that made me some money was ‘We’re hungry, hungry hippos…’ for the Hasbro children’s game Hungry Hippos.

He also sang the American national anthem for the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden for ten years.

“My mother said, ‘You have to realize one thing, it’s not about you. It’s an anthem. Sing it like one’”, he mused.

Rory remembers a memorable hockey game between the Rangers and the Calgary Flames.

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“One kid that grew up for doors next to me (at Port Dover) was their goalie, Rick Walmsley,” he said. “When they announced Rory Dodd would be signing the anthem, he skated out and said, ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ I hug him and then realize I’m hugging the opposing goaltender on Center Ice at Madison Square Garden. Not a good move.”

Rory, who now leads a quiet life in Simcoe, enjoys golf and spends time with his partner Ruth Fleming, said he was both flattered and scared when he was notified of his induction into the London Music Hall of Fame.

“I was amazed when they called,” Rory shared. “I don’t know if anyone knows me. Everyone in Port Dover calls me the guy from Meatloaf.”

London Music Hall of Fame Curator Rena O’Halloran said Rory’s induction was possible thanks to changes to the Hall’s geographic boundaries this year, which now include Port Dover.

“His influence on rock was enormous,” she said. “He’s played on some of the biggest albums and with some of the biggest stars of the last 40 years.

“The London Music Hall of Fame is thrilled to add his name to our list of artists and to recognize the contributions of talented musicians who are sometimes forgotten.”

bethompson@postmedia.com

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