The Tragic Death of Type O Negative Leader Peter Steele
Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the band Type O Negative, the history of the group and the tragic death of Peter Steele. Check it out below!
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Led by imposing frontman Peter Steele, Type
O Negative would bring goth metal to the masses
during the 90’s.
The band mixed themes of romance, drugs, depression,
and death resulting in the name the “the Drab
Four” which was a nod to the Beatles “the
fab four” moniker.
Type O Negative’s keyboardist Josh Silver
would reveal in the book The Oral History
of Metal how frontman Peter Steele’s frustrations
as a teenager and young adult influenced his
song writing revealing: “Peter was big and
considered himself kind of goofy.
He didn’t have girlfriends growing up.
A lot of Type O’s music was written from
the perspective of someone who who couldn’t
We had songs like I know your fing someone
He was able to be very honest about how hurt
he was during a lot of these periods.
I think it was part of what made us appealing.
We told the truth” he’d say.
Several years prior to the formation of Type
O negative in 1989, Peter Steele was fronting
and playing bass in another band named Carnivore.
The band would take to the stage during live
shows dressed as warriors in worn clothing
and attached spikes to hockey gear.
The band’s music explored some pretty dark
themes with song titles including “Jesus Hiler”,
“Race War”, and “Thermonuclear Warrior,”
Steele was known for having a dark sense of
humor as Type O Negative drummer
Sal Abruscato would tell Metal Hammer Magazine:“Peter
enjoyed messing with people,”.
“People though he was serious when he was
joking and joking when he was serious.”
Carnivore would only last for two albums before
the band split and Steele went on to form
a new band with longtime friend Josh Silver.
They would originally called themselves Subzero
before finally landing on the name Type O
Type O Negative’s first record 1991’s
slow deep and hard would feature songs more
heavily influenced by doom, and thrash metal.
The following year the band released 1992’s
The Origin Of Feces which was a faux live
record that featured a hostile live audience.
It wasn’t until 1993’s bloody kisses that
the band’s goth metal sound took center
stage According to Abruscato “Peter loved
the goth girls,.
We used to go to the bars where they all hung
outto pick them up.
But he was really into that sound – The
Sisters Of Mercy,, My Bloody Valentine.
That whole scene was attractive to him, so
he made it his own” he’d say
The goth element wasn’t the only new thing
brought to Type O Negative’s sound on bloody
kisses as according to the band’s guitarist
Kenny Hickey “Peter decided that melody
was really where it’s at,”which was a
hard thing to do.
He went from screaming his head off and
writing these furious, angry lyrics to focused
primarily on romance, love, sex, and death
Not only did the album discuss themes of love,
sex and death it also was used as an opportunity
to attack the band’s critics.
During the group’s previous tours across
Europe in the early 90’s many in the media
slammed the band for being racists.
Songs such as “we hate everyone” and “kill
all the white people” were used to dispel
Also overlooked by the band’s critics was
that Type O Negative’s keyboardist Josh Silver
Bloody kisses featured the band’s best known
song Black No. 1 which was a mainstay of MTV’s
The song sarcastic lyrics were loosely inspired
by a relationship Steele
had with a goth And the singer would tell
Revolver how he wrote the song while working
as a truck
driver recalling “I was waiting in line for
three hours to dump 40 cubic yards of human
waste at the Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer
Station, and I wrote the song in my head.
I’m not kidding you” he’d say.
The second single released from the record
Christian Woman which had a successful run
on US rock radio and along with the album’s
first single pushed the record to go platinum
in the United States
Abruscato would look back “The whole vampire
allure connected with people,” “It was
around the time of that movie, Interview With
The Vampire and everything blew
up after that.
I remember there was a store in East Village
that started selling all kinds
of ruffled shirts and velvet jackets and shit.
And the band soon started attracting a lot
of female fans because of it” he’d say.
And as the band’s stock rose the tour to
support the record became bigger and more
Abruscato would recall at one point, the band
were booked to play
a club in New York that turned out to be a
sex dungeon saying “It was this underground
place with all this torture equipment,”“There
were people dressed up and walking around
We were going, ‘What the hell are we doing
We were just four guys
from Brooklyn, we weren’t living that lifestyle”
Surprisingly on the album was a cover of the
Seals and Crofts soft rock song Summer Breeze.
Originally the band wanted to change the lyrics
to the song and rename it Summer Girl, which
would have required permission from Seals
and Crofts and the group found the lyrics
to summer girl distasteful.
Drummer Sal Abruscato would leave the band
following the release of Bloody Kisses and
would be replaced by johnny kelley.
Following the success of Bloody Kisses, the
band turned their attention to their follow
up record 1996’s October Rust.
Steele wanted to focus the band’s sound
on appealing more to women.
And according to guitarist Kenny Hickey he
would reveal to author Jon Wiederhorn “Peter
saw how many women he was getting after 1993’s
bloody kisses and the song Black No. 1 so
he decided to design the band towards getting
October Rust was intentionally sensual just
to get the high heels in the door.
It was a pimp record.“
The album would be the first have new drummer
Johnny Kelley credited on the album, despite
the fact that the drums are programmed.
The album was notable for featuring more ballads
and being a departure from their doom and
goth metal sound while also featuring a cover
of the Neil Young song Cinammon Girl.
The album cycle for October Rust would prove
to be the beginning of the end for frontman
and bassist Peter Steele as he would admit
reveal how 1997 represented the first time
he started using coke thanks to guitarist
Drummer Johnny Kelley would reveal in the
book louder than hell band would come offstage
and Kelley and Steele would head backstage
to get their fix.
It would be these demons along with his depression
that he would battle for the next decade and
a half of his life.
Former drummer Sal Abruscato would reveal
in the same book how Steel’s personality
while sweet at times was also his downfall
saying “Peter was a very sweet, very funny
guy, but he was also very fragile,” “And
that vulnerability allowed some demons to
And October Rust would be successful going
gold, but it failed to match the success of
In 1999 the band would release what was arguably
their darkest record to date called World
Coming Down which was largely inspired by
Steeles battle with mental illness, family
deaths and drug abuse.
Songs like “Everyone I Love Is Dead” and “Everything
Dies” dealt with the difficulties of seeing
those close to him die, while white slavery
dealt with his drug addiction while another
track “Who Will Save the Sane’ dealt with
The album would close with a medley of Beatles
songs as well.
Life Is Killing Me would be the band’s sixth
studio album and it would be released several
years later and it would prove to be the group’s
final record released on label Roadrunner.
The album once again dealt with mental illness,
the death of Steele’s parents and he’d be
more forthcoming about his problems with the
law and relationships he’s had.
He would reveal in the Oral History of Metal:
I was in Brooklyn’s kings county hospital
suffering from drug induced psychosis and
it was actually my own family that got me
Which kinda made me wish i was part of the
I had typical paranoia.
I thought there were cameras in the light
switches and showerheads.
Steee would also admit to spending time in
jail for a month at rikers island with 23
charges against him, one of which included
Steel would attempt to kill an ex-’s husband
while he was under the influence of drugs.
Fast forward now to May 13, 2005, the rock
and metal community was shocked at the news
that Type O Negative frontman and bassist
Peter Steele had dead.
While no official announcement was made by
the band, the band’s website posted a tombstone
that read Peter Steele, 1962-2005’.
With the caption: ‘Free At Last’.
For a man who had his fair share of demons,
it seemed like a fitting tribute.
In the run up to the photo being posted on
the band’s website, there seemed to be some
foreshadowing as the band’s 2004 fall tour
had been cancelled.
It was first reported that the tour was cancelled
due to Steele suffering health issues
Also adding ot the hysteria around tis time
was that the band’s recently released album
2003’s “Life is Kiling Me’ featured some
songs appropriately titled “The Dream is
Dead and “I Don’t Wanna Be Me.”and people
wondered is this as this an extension of Steele’s
sense of humor or how he actually felt and
It would turn out the whole tombstone episode
was meant to be the band was now free from
their contract with roadrunner record.
Steele would tell Loudersound how the 2004
tour was cancelled not due to health problems,
but due to internal issues within the band.
It would turn out that the tombstone prank
would have some pretty dire consequences.
Steele would admit in the same book that he
was required to see a judge from time to time
and the judge also happened to be a Type O
Negative fan who would send the cops to Steele’s
house after reading about his death in 2005
Following Type O Negative leaving Roadrunner
records they would sign to SPV Records and
they would release their first and only album
under the label, which was 2007’s Dead Again
which would debut at No. 27 on the billboard
charts which was the band’s highest charging
record to date.
When the news came 3 years later in April
of 2010 that Peter Steele was dead, some people
of course had a hard time believing it.
After all this was a guy who tried to take
his own life, he overdosed and as I talked
about previously supposedly died 5 years earlier.
He wasl ike the Keith Richards of metal, nothing
seemed to kill him, but the news on April
14th was in fact real.
The frontman would pass away at the age of
48 due to aortic aneurysm after spending a
few days in bed with the flu.
Just days prior to Steele passing away he
seemed excited to work on the band’s follow
up album and he was proud about finally being
clean and sober and excited about moving to
a place near Staten Island.
His bandmates, guitarist Kenny Hickey and
drummer Johnny Kelly were working on their
metal side project Seventh Void when they
received the sad news.
While Steele was said to be clean in the run
up to his death he did live with an irregular
heartbeat for a lot of his life, something
which he took medication for.
But of course not helping things was that
he was frequently abusing drugs.
The band’s keyboardist would reflect back
telling Loudwire . “Who knows if he died
from all the drugs over the years or something
else,” “He was diagnosed with the condition
years and years ago, but if you take care
of yourself and do the right stuff it’s
something you can live with for quite a while.
There are plenty of 90-year-olds running around
with it” he’d say.
Hickey would add his perspective to Loudwire
how Steele’s family history likely had something
to do with his eventual fate saying , “He
always said that he felt the flutter in his
heart, even when he was a kid, so he might
have been born with it for all we know.
He’s had four or five males in his family
that have died from heart disease before 50,
so it could have been congenital.
There is a price you pay for being so big,
too” he’d say
Hickey would also go on to reveal how Peter’s
obsessive behavior prevented the frontman
from just enjoying things in moderations saying
“If Peter did something that he enjoyed,
that was pleasurable for him, he went all
the way with it.
It was just another extension of his obsessive
Women, food, alcohol, he had to have massive
He dreaded running out of anything.
He’s the only guy I know who could do two
eight balls and eat 60 dollars of Chinese
Following his death, Type O Negative would
split up opting not to replace the singer.
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