Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Pete Steele - (1962-2010) R.I.P.

Type O Negative's giant frontman Pete Steele has died again.

This time, however, it is no farce. After the band faked his death in 2005 and having prior to that come close after an overdose, the 6 foot 7 singer/bassist has finally left us, succombing to heart failure at the age of 48. In his early days, Steele (born Petrus T. Ratajczyk) played bass in a handful of proto-hardcore bands in his native Brooklyn before starting up thrash legends Carnivore, a band whose trademark nihilism acted as a precursor to that employed by his most successful band, gothic metallers Type O Negative. Type O were always something of an enigmatic band and their blend of goth, postpunk, The Doors and new wave was not for everyone, but nobody can argue the impact of the band from raw and brutal debut Slow, Deep and Hard through to classic album Bloody Kisses and it's poppier follow-up October Rust on the metal and goth scenes respectively. From the epic pop-doom catchiness of 'Christian Woman' to the wistful melancholy of Seals and Crofts cover 'Summer Breeze' which would be later used in the dramatic opening credits of I Know What you Did Last Summer.

Using Steele's striking physique as a marketing play, Roadrunner's success as a label owes much to Type O Negative and especially their plentiful airplay in the early-mid nineties on MTV with videos such as Summer Breeze. This fact has been acknowledged by Monte Conner, Senior VP A&R at Roadrunner Records. "Peter Steele was an integral thread in the fabric of Roadrunner Records, having been with us from 1985 to 2005. Type O Negative kicked down doors for Roadrunner with 'Bloody Kisses' giving us our first Gold record in November 1995 and our first success at commercial radio with 'Christian Woman.' To this day, artistically it is one of the defining records on this label as well as a universally regarded classic in the heavy metal, hard rock and goth rock genres. I will always treasure my memories of working with a true artist like Peter Steele, and fondly remember the respect he showed me and others here as well as his deadpan, black sense of humor. While the music world suffers a huge loss with Peter's passing, his legacy will surely endure." A fitting tribute to one of metal's most charismatic characters.

Steele will also be remembered for explicit shots taken for a Playgirl feature which prompted wild rumours over his, erm, 'size'. Another shocking moment in his career also linked to his physical self included using a close up of his own anus for the darkly humorous album Origin of the Feces. Often shocking live audiences with self-deprecating sense of humour and by deliberately sabotaging his own songs, it can truly be said that he was a unique man and in my household at least, Bloody Kisses will certainly be aired on a regular basis and if you walk past my window during such an airing you'll most likely bear witness to a mass of hair and some decidedly gloomy rock-god-like air guitaring to the sheer popdoom majesty that is Christian Woman.

Key Discography

  • Carnivore: Carnivore - Roadrunner Records, 1985

  • Carnivore: Retaliation - Roadrunner Records, 1987

  • Type O Negative: Slow, Deep and Hard - Roadrunner Records, 1991

  • Type O Negative: The Origin of the Feces - Roadrunner Records, 1992

  • Type O Negative: Bloody Kisses - Roadrunner Records, 1993

  • Type O Negative: October Rust - Roadrunner Records, 1996

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