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Peter Steele Controversy: What You Didn’t Know About Peter Steele of Type O Negative

Take a look at the life and terrible demise of one of metal’s most intriguing frontmen, who passed away eleven years ago today.

In the eyes of metalheads everywhere, Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele was the only creator and innovator of the Gothic Metal subgenre.

With his menacing baritone voice, ghastly appearance, and unmistakable 6 feet 8 inch height, it was no surprise that Steele took the world by storm and changed the sound of metal. Although few were aware of the full nature of Type O Negative’s tragic backstory, it remained hidden behind the band’s notoriety.

The artist, who was raised in Brooklyn as the youngest of six children in a devoutly Catholic household, was born Petrus Thomas Ratajczyk. Although he lived most of his life as a self-described atheist, the musician would briefly return to his Catholic roots before his terrible demise.

Few people are aware that the musician was a member of Carnivore, a politically incorrect Thrash band, and Fallout, a heavy metal band, before forming Type O Negative. Steele quickly made a name for himself as a vocalist and bassist in each of these bands, utilizing his lyrics to address topics like racism, misogyny, race, and war.

Peter Steele Controversy: What You Didn't Know About Peter Steele of Type O Negative

But because these bands didn’t last very long or had minimal popularity, Steele decided to focus on a new, darker project that would go a different route than most others on the scene. In 1989, he and his boyhood buddy Josh Silver started a new band called Repulsion, subsequently changing its name to Type O Negative, with the goal of pursuing the burgeoning Gothic genre.

Here’s the Youtube Video by Roadrunner Records

Steele utilized a melodic, 1970s sound and added darker and more devious overtones to make it distinctive to him. He was mostly inspired by the menacing themes of Black Sabbath and the songwriting prowess of The Beatles. This was then elevated by addressing forbidden themes like addiction, mortality, and grief in each song and talking about extremely personal topics in the lyrics.

Few people are aware that, during this time, the frontman was still employed full-time by the Department of Parks and Recreation. They did this while making a name for themselves in the underground scene and contributing to the development of the Gothic Metal genre (paving the way for artists like Nightwish and Cradle of Filth).

When not focusing on music, Steele, who has lived his entire life in New York City, was hired for five years following the band’s formation to operate steamrollers, snowplows, and garbage trucks. In fact, the color scheme for the band and the singer’s pseudonym of “Green Man” were both inspired by his green job uniform during this time period.

After being recruited to join Mötley Crüe on tour, the vocalist left this position in 1994, but it wasn’t until then that his personal life spiraled out of control and drug and alcohol abuse started to take a toll.

Peter Steele Controversy: What You Didn't Know About Peter Steele of Type O Negative

Steele’s health started to worsen after adopting a self-described lifestyle of excess in every way. As a result, the other band members were obliged to only arrange momentary activities out of fear for the vocalist’s safety due to his extravagant demands.

The frontman’s alcoholism was at the time one of the most obvious problems. Although the addiction was initially thought to have sprung from enjoyment, it eventually became clear that Steele’s constant battle with anxieties and stage fright, a problem he was never able to conquer, was the real cause of the addiction.

Steele grew determined to show that the band could accomplish more than a simple “Gothic” sound as they gradually expanded their fan base.

The band’s discography started to experiment in genres like Hardcore, Thrash, and Industrial Metal for the first time as it started to incorporate more opulent elements. Type O Negative ran the risk of alienating their core audience, but this gamble paid off handsomely, as they were viewed as having a wider appeal than many had first thought. The band quickly reached a new level of popularity and jointly sold over 2.5 million albums with the help of an even larger fanbase.

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Steele’s personal struggles and lavish lifestyle, however, appeared to have become worse when he joined Type O Negative. By the middle of the 2000s, the singer had previously made suicide attempts, posed nastily for a 1995 issue of Playgirl, overdosed, and faked his own demise. As a result, it came as a shock to both fans and band members when the singer made a sudden, significant transition into sobriety.

Peter Steele Controversy: What You Didn't Know About Peter Steele of Type O Negative

For the first time, Steele was thinking about the long-term strategies for Type O Negative. He was sober, upbeat, and ready to guide the band into greater and better things. The band resolved to follow in the footsteps of Mötorhead and wanted to establish a lasting legacy, eagerly writing new content for their upcoming eighth album and embracing his Roman Catholic heritage.

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Despite this newfound understanding, the frontman had a serious illness the next year, in a tragic ironic twist. After getting the virus, he experienced serious health problems, which were further made worse by the stress brought on by his cat’s ongoing illness. The artist’s troubling lifestyle then returned, and it is believed that he soon fell back into alcoholism. On April 14, 2010, the singer died at his home after suffering a fatal aortic aneurysm.

Although the band’s vocalist wrote a lot of material for an upcoming album, he left no written or audio records of the new songs, therefore the band was unable to continue the release in his memory.

After learning of the frontman’s passing and refusing to even consider finding a replacement, Type O Negative abruptly called it quits, declaring that the band had died the same day as Peter Steele.

Over ten years after his passing, the frontman’s legacy is still well-known in the metal scene. The full legacy of Steele, who inspired a generation of new musicians and contributed to the development of the Gothic Metal subgenre, is yet unclear, but his influence on the scene is expected to last for a very long time.

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