Type O Negative frontman/bassist Peter Steele passed away yesterday, April 14, at the age of 48. No official cause of death has yet been released, but it is believed that Steele died of heart failure.
According to unconfirmed reports, Steele had been ill for days leading up to his death.
Steele was born Petrus T. Ratajczyk on January 4, 1962 in Brooklyn, New York. He stood 6' 7" tall and had a low, bass-heavy voice, which was one of the most recognizable features in Type O Negative's music.
Notes from his Wikipedia entry:
He is of Polish, Icelandic, English, and Russian heritage. Steele was equally known for his dark, deadpan humor, being remarkably self-deprecating for a musician and clinical depression; he had occasionally received psychiatric treatment for the latter. There were unconfirmed rumors at one point of Steele's death after the band website posted an image of a tombstone bearing his name and the dates 1962-2005. According to an article dated May 14, 2005, Steele was not dead; the gag was related to their fresh signing with SPV Records. The website discontinued the tombstone picture in October 2005. However, Steele had indeed disappeared for an extended time with no explanation from the band or management. Rumors of his death, terminal illness, and other speculations increased until the mystery was dispelled on the 2006 DVD Symphony for the Devil. Included in this DVD is an interview in which Steele briefly mentions his incarceration in Riker's Island and "the psych ward at Kings County Hospital," both stints apparently caused by his heavy substance abuse, for which he also served time on probation. Additionally, Steele was admittedly very bitter towards his sisters for what he perceived to be a betrayal of sorts that led to his jail time. This situation was incorporated into "Tripping a Blind Man" on Type O Negative's 2007 album, Dead Again.
Steele notoriously appeared as a nude centerfold of Playgirl in 1995. After finding out via bandmate Kenny Hickey's contacts that only 23 percent of the magazine subscribers were female, Steele somewhat regretted the decision and later made light of it on Life Is Killing Me with the song "I Like Goils". In a 2007 interview, Steele reflected on the posing as merely a naïve publicity stunt.
Steele also revealed in recent interviews that Type O Negative's split from Roadrunner Records, aside from a poor offer, had to do with an allegedly unauthorized release of a Best Of compilation. Additionally, he later revealed on MTV's Headbangers Ball that the new alliance with SPV Records was probably his favorite thing about Dead Again from a production standpoint.
In April 2007, Steele revealed that he began identifying himself as Roman Catholic in recent years, after decades of self-professed atheism. 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.”