EXPIRED: 04/14/10 – Peter Steele, 48, was an imposing figure. Picture this: You’re in a Brooklyn Park. You drop an empty Starbucks cup on the ground. A Parks Department Truck quickly pulls up and out steps 6’7″ Peter Steele holding a stick with a nail on the end. He jabs the litter at your feet, scrapes it into a nearby trash can, looks you in the eye and says, “Have a Nice Day.” That was Peter Steele in his old job with the New York City Parks Department before touring the world as the frontman of the goth-metal act Type O Negative.
He was born Petrus Ratajczyk and before joining Type O Negative, which was originally called Repulsion and SubZero, he played for the metal group Fallout and the thrash band Carnivore.
While quite original, some of the band’s best loved songs were covers of non-metal hits, like Seals & Crofts “Summer Breeze” and Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.”
Obsessed with death, Steele often broached the subject in his songs. He suffered from clinical depression for years and occasionally received psychiatric treatment to help him deal with the condition. In 2005, there were rumors of his death when an image of a tombstone bearing his name and the dates 1962-2005 was plastered on the band’s website. It turned out to be a gag related to the separation from their old record company.
Still he was obsessed: On The Howard Stern Show, Steele admitted having fantasies of murder-suicide involving girlfriends, and confirmed claims that Kurt Cobain was his “hero” for “having the balls to shoot himself.”
And the rumors weren’t entirely dispelled as Steele disappeared with no explanation. Later, it was released that his heavy substance abuse at the time caused him to spend time at both a NYC prison and at a hospital ‘psych ward.’ He later had to postpone a short tour because it would have violated probation.
Oddly, Steele appeared as a nude centerfold of Playgirl in 1995. After learning that only 23% of the magazine subscribers were female, Steele regretted the decision and later made light of it with the song “I Like Goils.” In a 2007 interview, Steele reflected on the posing as merely a naïve publicity stunt.
He died of heart failure. His last two albums?
Life Is Killing Me and Dead Again