RIP Peter Steele – Heavy metal hero dies at 48

Peter Steele photo by Adam Wills

Peter Steele photo by Adam Wills

By Jay Gorania

One year ago I had one of the greatest times of my life hanging out at Vinnie Paul’s strip joint, The Clubhouse, in Dallas for the debut CD release party for Seventh Void, the hard rock/metal project featuring Type O Negative’s Johnny Kelly and Kenny Hickey. A killer band in its own right, I’ve nevertheless been awaiting the next release from Type O Negative, one of the greatest bands in metal history, as far as I’m concerned.

Yet sadly my thirst for another Type O Negative album may never be quenched, due to the untimely and tragic passing of Petrus T. Ratajczyk, better known to metalheads as Peter Steele, on April 14th.

The heavy metal hero was only 48 years old.

His self-deprecating nature, dark and sarcastic/satirical humor, and brilliant wit lent to his lyrical genius and powerful onstage persona. He was fearlessly politically incorrect, and brutally honest. His bass playing and songwriting meshed the class of The Beatles with the bottom-heavy bombast of Black Sabbath. And of course his bass/baritone vocals were distinct, powerful and memorable. No one sounds like Type O Negative, and no one sounded like Peter Steele. And yet their influence upon heavy music is simply immeasurable.

Best known musically for his goth metal work with Type O Negative, many overlook or are unaware of their debut, Slow, Deep and Hard, the album that bridged the gap between Type O’s vampirical gloom ’n doom style with Pete’s precursor band Carnivore, a bare-knuckled hardcore/thrash crossover act.

Though I was fortunate enough to catch Type O Negative twice in support of October Rust, once in an intimate club setting and again as part of the star-studded Ozzfest ’97 lineup, I sadly never had the opportunity to meet Peter. With that said, his music definitely constituted a soundtrack to certain memorable points in my life, whether it was when I was tripping balls to his music and videos, or listening to it while hanging out at a cemetery during an unsuccessful attempt at wooing a goth chic.

First hand accounts of wild party stories involving Pete Steele have always entertained me (and if you’re a Type O fan, you know there are many), so if anyone has any they could share, I’d really appreciate it. I might even buy you a shot in tribute to Mr. Steele. RIP, big guy.