R.I.P.: Type O Negative’s Peter Steele Has Died (4/14/2010)

It is with incredible sadness that I try to wrap my head around the loss of Type O Negative’s Peter Steele who passed away last night  4/14/2010 at around 6pm.   The news broke rather quickly thanks to the likes of Twitter, Facebook & MySpace, but in the early stages of the information there was a strong belief that the rumors of his death were highly exaggerated.   This mindset was initially in place based on the fact that the singer had been reported dead back in 2005 but after a few days the world realized that they had been punked.  Sadly there would be no sigh of relief this time around and when very reliable sources in his camp confirmed it all to be true we would learn the brutal fact that in the end it was heart failure that took this giant of the Metal scene away from us.  He was 48 years old.

Lord Petrus Steele

Believe it or not, he was not always the Man named Steele and was actually born Petrus T. Ratajcyk and while he would have likely laughed off the title, he was one of Heavy Metal’s most important and legendary front men.  His imposing 6’7″ stature and booming voice combined with the level of prolific song-writing he offered up made him a force not only to be reckoned with, but to be respected most of all.   Historically speaking Peter Steele first performed with a band called Fallout, who I only ever heard two songs from and then assembled a ravaging beast of Thrash Metal called Carnivore.  I originally felt that what Carnivore was up to in their heyday was too much for me but over the years they would eventually win me over.  They released two albums on Roadrunner Records before disbanding and with their dissolution, the world received Repulsion.   The band changed their name to Sub-Zero before eventually swapping that for Type O Negative.   The rest is history.  With Peter’s death I wanted to reflect on some of my own memories about his music so I hope you will indulge me a little bit.   Read on.

peter steele, type o negative, peter steele memorial
Type O Negative’s Peter Steele (10/2007)

Long before I walked around with the title of “Metal Music Journalist” on my name, I was and still am a proud fan of the genre.  For many years I was also a very ardent fan of Type O Negative and would find myself counting the days before an album was to be issued or a show was to be attended.  For whatever reason, the music of Type O Negative was just something that did it for me and when they did shows in our region I would do whatever possible to make sure I would be in the venue enjoying their gig.  In my mind this was always going to be a great night since it was home territory to these Lords Of Flatbush.  I remember seeing them a number of times at the now shuttered L’Amour’s and my journey’s to their shows began around the time of the “Bloody Kisses” album.  I went with an army of friends and we left the show battered, bruised and woke up with hangovers that lasted for days.  At one show I remember they had a smoking cauldron that two girls dressed as nuns handed out a sinister brew from.  I had the chance to sample some of the concoction and to this day I didn’t know what it even was.  I know your smiling at that because you likely found the same case scenario being something experienced by you and your own friends if you saw them way back in the day.  I am a little depressed about not having any images from this time period but I am sure others do somewhere.   The above shot was taken by me when the band was performing at New York’s Irving Plaza towards the end of 2007.  They call the place The Fillmore NY now, and at this show the band was performing with Finland’s Lordi as their opener.  When Type O took to the stage they dominated the night and this was well to be expected.  Many were amused at the singer’s choice of priestly collar for this show and any who balked at this dared not open their mouths about it.

peter steele, type o negative, peter steele memorial
Type O Negative’s Peter Steele (5/2007)

I recall being at another gig and when the chants of “You Suck” began, a young girl next to me asked why I was here if I was going to yell such a thing at the band before they even played.  I smiled and said “first time?”, and she replied “yes”.   It really was an amusing way to find the band entering the stage but if this worked out for them then who were we to argue.  When the shot above was taken it was another Irving Plaza gig and only a handful of months prior to the one with Lordi.  This show was nothing less than crushing and found the legendary Celtic Frost as their opening band.  I know some people feel the order should have been reversed but I was not one of them based on TON’s continued dominance of the scene and the fact that Frost was once again on the rise.  The next shot finds Peter performing at Nokia Theatre in Times Square.  It was around the time of Halloween in 2009 and I never would have thought that this would be his last NYC performance with the band.

peter steele, type o negative, peter steele memorial
Type O Negative’s Peter Steele (10/2009)

Since I had only begun by adventuring as music journalist in late 2003, there were a lot of shows that while attended, were not covered for the larger public to learn about.  In total I think I caught something like twenty of the bands appearances around town and while I would have loved to catch more of them, the finances didn’t always allow for that and I know each of you has experienced this from time to time.   Despite missing some shows that I would have loved to add to my personal achievements in show attending I had been a fan of Type O Negative’s music since I first heard the “Slow, Deep and Hard” album back when it was released in 1991.  This album was a brutal and intense effort and would have a lot of the Carnivore vibe to it.  Years later we would learn how this featured material that was planned for the third Carnivore album, but that never came to be.  The album “Bloody Kisses” was my clear favorite and it was one that put these guys on the map.  The song writing was solid and the tunes resonated with power.  Clearly, Steele had a vision and was taking the band straight on into success with it.  They spent a majority of their career on Roadrunner Records and eventually moved on to SPV Records and with each and every album their legions picked up steam and ran alongside them.  When I launched PiercingMetal.com I covered the band’s live appearances when they hit our region and also reviewed material that had come out as new releases. I also made sure to include some of their legacy stuff for good measure and the eventual plan is to have all of the catalog reviewed on the website.   The stuff is just too good to not have this be the case.

I never really knew Peter Steele as a person but did meet him once at a local bar in Coney Island.  The singer was there to see his drummer Johnny performing with his Led Zeppelin band and when he noticed my Type O insignia button (the one with the little minus sign – green on black), he smirked and said “wow that’s an old one”.  We only chatted for a few minutes as he was not feeling too well that night and I don’t think he expected the kind of attention he was finding himself getting and was feeling a little claustrophobic.   Of course many people I consider allies in my Metal adventuring did know him well and proudly called him friend.  It was clear that based on the stories that they tell us that Peter never saw what all the fuss was about for him and just considered himself a regular guy who played music.  His sense of humor was dark but intelligent and while imposing based on his size, he was really a very kind human being who they had nothing but good to say about.  Given all of these positive factors it is clear that the Metal world lost one of the good ones without any question.

peter steele, type o negative, peter steele memorial
The Man Of Steele

I found it interesting that when all of the news became clear about his passing how one friend commented on Facebook and said how she hated the fact about how now everyone is going to jump on the bandwagon and all of a sudden be “fans” of the band.  While I can see where she is coming from in one sense, I like to think of it like this; I am OK with those who are just getting with the program as a result of Peter’s death calling his music to their attention but those individuals are called upon to keep his memory and his Metal strong by spreading the word to others even more.  Doing so will help it live on and on and earn you the respect of the longer time fans.  I never fault the newbies because we all cannot follow a group “from the beginning”, but I do chide them about their needing some research to catch up to the rest of us who have been with the program but either way welcome to the fold.

peter steele, type o negative, peter steele memorial
Type O Negative’s Peter Steele: Please Don’t Squeeze The Charmin (5/2007)

As a fan of his music I shall miss Peter Steele terribly and wonder what could ever be next for the band Type O Negative.  How could they possibly go on without their key member?  I have my memories of their past music and shows and hope that some of the older video tapes that used to be traded find their way to official release so the fans can enjoy what he brought to the table again and again.  As a music scribe I will miss the chance to hear new Type O music and see their new shows with him at the helm.  On behalf of my role here on PiercingMetal.com, I wish Peter’s family and all his friends the most heartfelt condolences on this truly tragic loss.  Peter’s memory and magic will resonate forever upon the Metal scene and he will be missed by all.

I’ve written a number of articles about Type O Negative’s shows and releases and I invite you to check them out HERE.  My hope is that they bring some smiles to you in this sad time.

I also mentioned how Peter Steele was the founder of the seminal Thrashcore band Carnivore.  The band released two full albums on Roadrunner Records and then found them remastered by the same company and featuring bonus demo tracks.   Eventually these remasters were re-issued by Metal Mind Productions as limited editions.  They were exactly the same with the exception of some liner notes.  In 2006 Steele fronted a rebuilt Carnivore and did a bunch of US and European shows which were met with positive result.

peter steele, carnivore, peter steele memorial
Pete Steele with Carnivore 2006 (9/2006)

We heard that recordings of these shows and video was filmed so let’s hope that this stuff sees the light of day considering the circumstances.  As I said when the first incarnation of the band walked the Musical Geography of our world it was not my thing, but I got into them later and was glad to be on point when they played the venerated B.B. King Blues Club.  We also reviewed their two albums and you can enjoy those articles by clicking HERE.

Rest In Peace Mister Steele – Thank you for everything you gave us, you ruled.

37 thoughts on “R.I.P.: Type O Negative’s Peter Steele Has Died (4/14/2010)”

  1. Ken, that was beautiful! I’ve known Pete and Josh for 27 years. I know firsthand what a great man Pete was. I will always have fond memories of him.

  2. Ken that was a touching tribute to someone who will be greatly missed in the Metal community. I can sadly admit that I never did get to see Type-O live but I own most of their catalogue and will unfortunately have to deal with never being able to see them live. Thanx for the music Pete, RIP!!!! BTW favorite song is “Red Water” from October Rust!!!!

  3. Great article, Ken. I like what you said about his death bringing new fans to the fold, and the hell with who heard of the band first! I feel bad that I didn’t go to the last show they played in the city…

  4. Sad, sad day. Type O Negative is one of the bands that are in my top 5 bands to take with me in my coffin when I die to listen to for eternity. Their music, especially Peter’s lyrics, voice, and melodies, have carried me through some very tough times in life. I am so fucking depressed. I can’t believe I will never hear him sing live again.

    A reminder that life’s too fucking too short. Give love to those who deserve it today. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Conversely, give a big FU to all those that deserve it as well and don’t waste your time with anyone who brings you down. Peter would have wanted it that way!!!

  5. Very touching tribute Ken. It brought back a lot of old memories of seeing Type O negative. I’m still saddened by this cause I’ve met Pete a number of times and he was a nice guy every time. My all time favorite was meeting him at a Tower Records before they played Nassau Coliseum with Pantera. Pete actually smiled in a pic he took with my sister and I. This was great to me cause Pete rarely smiled in pics. Thanks for your memories of Type O Negative as a fan it means a lot.

  6. Ken you wrote a great article. It’s beyond sad that you had to. This is a huge loss, it’s just so unbelievable.

  7. Interesting how as I’m writing this comment, the Empire State Building is lit green and I’m listening to quite possibly the most underrated Type O album, “Life is Killing Me”.

    Pete was someone that I looked up to. He was unique in every sense of the word and a musical genius. He was frank, yet not everyone took his words seriously. I respected that more than anything. Every time I read an interview with him, I know I would get something insightful, funny, clever and honest.

    Though I don’t know him personally, it feels as if he was close. Growing up in Brooklyn and being around the “L’Amour’s” crowd, he didn’t seem like that huge Metal icon everyone sees him as. I’ve heard plenty of stories about him and they’re all great. He seemed like a guy who definitely wasn’t boring in the least bit.

    My deepest condolences to Kenny, Johnny, Josh, his friends and his family. It was a heavy blow to me and the New York City music community, as well as his legions of fans around the world.

    Hail and farewell, Pete. I hope there’s plenty of Jack Daniels and pizza waiting for you past the creepy green light.

  8. “No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.” O.Wilde

    I’m shocked.

  9. An eloquent and well-written tribute Ken. My memories of Peter Steele are based on a lot of drunken crazy nights at the “old” Duff’s. He was indeed a humble and self-depreciating dude with the darkest and driest sense of humour I’ve encountered yet in the New York metal scene. You could tell by his shy demeanor that he didn’t buy into all the bullshit “rockstar” hype. As you said, he considered himself a regular guy who used to work for the Parks Dept. who happened to write a bunch of “horrible” songs that people enjoyed. I’m having a Crown Royal and coke, followed by a shot of J.D. right now in honor of The Green Man ’cause I know in whatever afterworld Pete ended up in…he’s raising some heaven and hell with Dimebag Darrell and everyone else. Hails and Horns Up Pete. Where you goin’ with that “axe” in your hand? m/ m/ m/ NONE MORE NEGATIVE

  10. Regarding Pete Steele, I still can’t believe it. I read what happened last night and was in shock. I’ve loved Type O since I was little, and have seen them lots of times. I even still have toilet paper from a concert I went to when I was at least 14 years old (as you know, they would often times throw toilet paper into the crowd during shows). I always had a blast at Type O concerts. Last time I saw them was at Terminal Five a few years ago. They opened for Hatebreed. I only went to see Type O. Granted Pete was reading the lyrics, but they were still amazing. One of my best friends got me his autograph that night because I had to leave early. Needless to say, Type O Negative was a huge part of my musical life, and I’m saddened by the death of such an amazing singer and personality.

  11. Yo, Kenny. Nice article, Dude. Well spoken, nicely photographed. I heard it from you first. I’ve been out of the loop for a while with all this running from NY to PA. Yep,yep,yep: sad day indeed. I got turned on to Type O way back in the late days of the early 90’s by my older brother who, at the time, was whip n leathering his way to every music scene in the lower intestines of Manhattan. He handed a CD copy of “Bloody Kisses” and ran his favorite advice to me: “…the Servant waits…while The Master bates…” I still play it to this day, to Gina’s annoyance. Nice article. Thanks.

  12. I am at a loss for words… It’s really a sad day… He will sure be remembered for being such a great frontman in both Type O and Carnivore. Rest in peace, Steele.

  13. So much sadness this day. He was a great musician, performer and model of self deprecating humor. They say the troubled ones are the most gifted, and in this case I’ll have to agree.

    God bless you on your journey Peter. Thanks for the inspiration all these years. We’re missing you greatly already.

    Thanks for the words, Ken.

  14. Reading your wonderful words, I am brought back to my own experience with Type O Negative. First hearing them when I was 15, I finally understood what real music could be. I got to see them when they toured with Pantera in 93(?). I had my very first backstage pass and I was SO excited and nervous. I decided to make my own shirt because, being 16, I had no money and I wanted to make sure it showed my autographs. The show was amazing and when I was finally backstage, I was nothing more than a scared kid, not knowing what to do. Not even realizing that I was standing in a room with 2 future fallen metal heros. Mr. Steele came looming around the corner and took me by surprise. I quietly walked up to him and said in a squeaky, nervous voice “Excuse me Mr. Steele, could you sign my shirt?” He turned around and looked down at me being that I am only about 5’1. He said “Sure, do you have a pen?” I handed him my sharpie and he very nicely and happily signed my shirt. With pen in hand he made a comment that my shirt didn’t look familiar. I got nervous thinking I would get in trouble. I confessed and told him that I made it. He handed me back my sharpie and picked up his beer that looked like a child’s juice box in his massive hand and told me “I like it. I hate the shirts they have for us nowadays. You did a great job.” I was speechless. Peter Steele just told me he liked the shirt I made? I said “Thank you so much” and he got called away. It really was my first encounter with a great music star who was a gentle giant and a down to earth man. I had many run ins with him in the years to follow and all left me with a special memory of him, like playing “ring around the tour bus”.
    Rest in Peace Peter Steele. You won’t be forgotten. Thanks for the years of great music and memories. The world has lost another great.

  15. Interesting how the joke is always on you. Who would have thought that Peter’s last musical outing would be so prophetic. While it’s easy to make light of an album entitled “Dead Again” in hindsight, it just highlights the ever sharp yet morbid wit that Pete Steele brandished until the end.

    I never realized how much I liked his music until it became too late. While I have been a fan “from the beginning,” TON was never high on my list of musical priorities. However, death brings perspective to the living, as do the very choice words of some music journalists (thank you, Ken), and the harsh realities of life make one fully appreciate that which is fleeting, and that which is not. Thankfully, Peter Steele left us all with something that cannot die with his human form. His words and music (thank you LoA) touched everyone, no matter in what way, and no one can every thank him enough for that, especially now. I doubt there is an afterlife, but if there is, I’m sure Pete is having a good laugh at all the mourning being done in his name. It would probably inspire him with a great song.

  16. I was shocked to hear about his death and felt a tremendous sense of loss to music and the gothic community in general. At least his music will live on in all of our hearts.

    RIP and thanks for the lovely page Ken.

    mama trash

  17. The website I provided was my son at 1 year old. He sang Anesthesia. He loved Type o negative from the day he heard peters voice. It wasnt the lurics of course, but his voice haunted my child. Till this day he listens to them. I of course edit his song list:) Take a look how Peters voice made this toddler so expressive. It is really amazing.
    Love u Peter .. Always

  18. I grew up with their music, his words, their love for the life, their deep love for the “LOVE”.. I’ve never been able to see one live show on stage of the Type O Negative.. unfortunately.. and now I can never do it! I cannot hear his voice anymore.. It was an horrible loss not only for his family, friends and fans but that’s a real loss for the whole Music scene!! :'(

    We all miss him so much.. it’s indescribable to put in words how much hurts this loss for everyone around this f**kin’ world! The world is really coming down.. 🙁

    Rest in Peace Peter..

  19. He will be dearly missed. His voice was very original. He just another Rockstar who buried himself, sadly. I’m sure we will be hearing about more this year. Sorry for being so morbid, but, it’s reality.
    Great job on your tribute to Peter, Ken. You’ve said all that was needed to be said about him.

  20. I actually KNEW Peter and we haven’t really kept in touch since I met him in my high school days in 1990. At the time he was in the neighborhood walking when he spotted me and some friends playing “borrowed” acoustic guitars from our school across the street. We were attempting to play metal songs on acoustics, and Pete found this incredibly amusing! He stops over and you could just see the huge grin on his face, then he says: “How the f–k did you manage an Agnostic Front song on those guitars?–Not bad!” After that we all made introductions and the rest is history. Pete was truly a man with a great sense of humor, towered over most people, but had the best and gentlest heart! I will truly miss Peter. I feel as though a part of me died when he did, and I will truly miss his music and great live shows. God Bless Peter Steele and all the lives he’s touched, including mine! RIP my friend, your suffering has come to and end.

  21. Hi, I’m writing from Greece. My TON story’s like this…

    I must have been 13 years old and one summer night, I was watching TV, feeling really bored, when I accidently, came across MTV’s “Alternative”. The time must have been around 02.30-03.00 a.m. and suddenly, I felt haunted! The signal was terrible and all I could see, was two beautiful green eyes, all I could hear, was a funny little song named “my girlfriend’s girlfriend”?! And I was like “Ooooo.k… What’s that? Who’s he?” The very next day at school, all I was doing, was talking to my friends about this wonderful man with the beautiful eyes and the deepest voice I’ve ever heard!

    For about 1,5 week, I was staying up ’till this late, to watch this MTV show and this man and every next day, I was making my friends dizzy again, ’till they couldn’t bare me! But I didn’t care! Thanks to this song, thanks to Peter, I entered the world of metal/gothic/etc. and never changed sides since then.
    During the following time, I bought every TON album, learned by heart every verse, wrote down this name so many times on notebooks, bags, desks, walls, on everything that could be written/paint… I recall a silly incident, when one day by mistake, instead of writing “Hey Pete! What are you doing with that ax in your hand?”, I wrote “head” and when I realized it, I felt so embarrassed… Just imagine this picture of Pete…With the ax…On his head!

    So, the years were passing and I was living with the hope that someday I would finally meet this man. Lets say this day came in 2007, when Type O Negative would come for a concert here in Athens. I simply, couldn’t believe it! I remember telling my boyfriend “don’t care if you know them or not, nor if you like them. We’ll GO to this and I’m not gonna hear a different word!” And of course, we did. And it was amazing. I’m not quite sure if Pete was at his best, just a hunch, he wasn’t. Yet, yes, the band dominated and we, the fans, were in delirium! For me, the best thing of this night, was when Pete threw his bottle of wine to the people and I had my chance to get a sip!….

    Now, I’m 27. Last Friday, read the news about his death. I didn’t believe it at first. “Another joke?…Repeated?”. I started searching through Web and the more I read, the more anxious I was getting. I was in deny. I still am. Maybe because I live so far away, never actually met him and have this feeling of a good friend (an old love I could say) who lives abroad, so we don’t see each other often. What taste am I left with? The taste of a memory of the times in life where I was feeling so down, that I needed to hear his songs, as if his voice was a person who could understand my every “blue period” and would comfort my each pain. And his songs, were accomplishing that. Every time. So my devotion remains, no matter if my friends make fun of me, while I need to share with them that “I mourn for him”, ‘coz after all “get real Danai, he’s just a singer and you’re not 13”!

    I know, there won’t be another guy like him, at least, not as long as I live.

    A stupid P.S.: the strange is, that last Tuesday,before I went to work, I used a green shadow. I rarely do. I was using this color ’till Friday, when I read about his loss. His favorite colour though, wasn’t it? Maybe a sign, maybe nothing!

    1. I had to reply to your post because you are the SECOND Greek Type O Negative fan I’ve ever come across in my life! ??????? ?????? ?????! I talk about TON to friends and acquaintances all the time, but no one likes their music and everyone thinks Peter was unnatractive. What the fuck is wrong with people, right?

      Unfortunately I didn’t see Peter in ’07; even if he wasn’t at his best I would have loved to be there, to see him live just once. Hell, I would have loved to see him back when he threw animal parts on the audience!

      In case you haven’t heard, an authorized biography of Peter Steele will be coming out this October. There’s a website (www.petersteelebio.com) and a FB page you can go to and pre-order the book. It will be limited edition so I would advise you to hurry up!

      Stay Negative 😉

  22. It took me some time to appreciate TON, because I’ve been more of an Carnivore lover myself. However, TON’s great twist won me over in time. So now I’m just sad like everybody out there, not being able to hear the songs he would have recorded. Peter, thanks for the inspiration and Josh, Kenny and Johnny: I hope in time this huge space he left will be filled with music to honor him; although it might seem impossible right now.

    love, Aukus from the Netherlands

  23. Wow…I still cannot believe Peter Steele is dead. It is so odd how life is. Back in about 94 , or 93, I was asked to do a photo layout for Playgirl with a musician & I declined it. My good friend ended up in my place.
    Then, I fast forward to 1996 when I started living in LA in an upscale beach community. I hardly knew anyone with the same interests. I ended up at the Type O Negative show in Hollywood in the mid to late 90’s since I loved Peter’s voice & an old friend of mine was doing sound & lights. I was invited to the party at the Roosevelt hotel. I saw many familiar faces & then had the privilege of meeting Peter Steele. He & I chatted for a bit & he was really such a complete gentleman & very kind. The conversation opener from my end was the fact that I do have Type O Negative blood type.It turned out he worked near one of the private schools I attended. He had such a nice voice and those kind soft eyes. I stuck around til about 4:30ish and the after party was still packed, I had to drive back to Marina Del Rey & when Peter saw me leaving,he actually put his hair in his hat & insisted on escorting me to the valet for my car, which was so uneccesary considering that we had just met and the car was in the valet. We exchanged numbers and had become friends (yes, to this day I can swear on my life that we had a strictly platonic relationship). About 2 months went by & I got a call from Peter. Peter was actually in Marina del Rey & had a fancy bbq to go to and he needed to buy a shirt & had asked if I could help him find a shirt to wear since we had an array of nice men’s clothing shops. I helped him & was invited to the bbq with him. I have to say, it is refreshing to know that he was still a complete gentleman with great manners & respect for others. It was rare to meet someone so talented who was a great human being .
    He actually gave me his army hat that he wore at ozfest one year. We had a nice friendship and had lost touch of each other a few years back after I had been married. I gotta say, my friendship with Peter was longer than my lousy marriage.
    Peter to me will always be remembered as one of the nicest, most kind hearted, talented & well spoken men I have ever met in my life.
    I really am still shocked by this and feel bad for his family (that includes the bandmates…)
    There should be more Peter Steeles in this world.
    Thanks for the great laughs, many nice conversations & most of all, your friendship. You will never be forgotten. I wish that things were different.
    Rest in Peace ,Peter.

  24. Know that your true fans will always miss you and Peter I hope you know that mom still has your wine bottle . The day she found out of your passing is the day the earth went black and her fave lipstick is still Black no. 1 so blessed be and dont forget about moms bloody kisses. My fave song is christian woman . Knowing that yur gone you still have people out there that still love your music speaking of which im listing to it right now. Thanks for always showing people that gothic metal can be poetic and listing to your music has made me write morbid poetry but hey u were kinda like a future edgar allen poe well your voice is still heard throught the house knowing u never met me mom tells me about the great talks you two had while u were here well R.I.P

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