Peter Steele: The Life of a Goth Metal Legend

Petrus T. Ratajczyk was born into a devout catholic family, in New York, on the 4th of January 1962. He grew up with five older sisters, enjoying a normal childhood playing football in the streets with his friends, and in his later years still finding pleasure in jogging, swimming and hockey. But life as an everyday citizen was not what his future held, as he discovered his talent for music and his natural ability to compose songs. He was to become a legend in the Gothic Metal music industry, and an icon to many around the world.

Peter Steele, as he became known, discovered he had extraordinary musical abilities after being released from a psychiatric facility for an attempted suicide in 1987. He was working for the New York City Parks Department as an equipment operator at the time, and thought that writing songs might help him to win back an ex-girlfriend. Instead, it won his band, Type O Negative (formed in 1989), a recording contract for their demo album. Before the establishment of Type O Negative, Steele played with other bands, such as Carnivore and Fallout, but it was with Type O Negative that he gained fame and stardom.

The heavy metal and Gothic metal sound of the band, combined with the original lyrics sung by Steele in his unique baritone voice struck the right cord with record labels and the public. Band members Peter Steele, Josh Silver, Johnny Kelly and Kenny Hickey worked together to create their debut album “Slow, Deep and Hard” for Roadrunner Records in 1991. They followed that up with “The Origin of the Feces” in 1992, “Bloody Kisses” in 1993, “October Rust” in 1996, “World Coming Down” in 1999, “Life is Killing Me” in 2003 and “Dead Again” in 2007.

Steele’s personal life, however, was plagued by clinical depression, psychiatric treatments, and prison time for assault. His substance addiction led to paranoia, to which he admitted. After years of proclaiming to be an atheist, Steele finally found peace in his religion once again. In April 2007, Steele revealed that he began identifying himself as a Roman Catholic. In an interview with Decibel magazine, Steele explained:“There are no atheists in foxholes, they say, and I was a foxhole atheist for a long time. But after going through a midlife crisis and having many things change very quickly, it made me realize my mortality. And when you start to think about death, you start to think about what’s after it. And then you start hoping there is a God. For me, it’s a frightening thought to go nowhere. I also can’t believe that people like Stalin and Hitler are gonna go to the same place as Mother Teresa.”

The news of his passing on 14 April 2010 came as a great shock for family members, friends and Type O Negative fans alike. His contributions to the music industry will be greatly missed.