PETER STEELE, 1962 – 2010
Last night, it only took a second to figure out that Peter Steele was really important to me. That much was evident once KNAC confirmed rumors of Steele’s death of heart failure. The next ten minutes must’ve been alarming to my neighbors as I stomped around, loudly cursing the fact that I’ve never spoken to Steele about his music. I’ve never even fucking seen Type O Negative in concert. I love that goddamn band. And Steele was its soul and voice.
After the tantrum, resignation set in and I stared at a wall, trying to figure out where I went wrong. In no mood for self-deception, I explained to um myself that being a lazy cheapskate is an easy lifestyle, but not one that leads to rewarding experiences. I should’ve been at those shows. I realize this now. But it’s too late and now Type O Negative as we know it is over. Peter’s parting gift to me is the knowledge that I suck.
It shames me to admit this, but he was a joke to me for years. It’s kinda justified. This woman-hating muscle guy who’s actually really sensitive and writes songs about a nun wanting to bang Jesus? The metal guy who did Playgirl? And Jerry Springer?! All that shit kept me from his music.
And of course, we all agree that his sense of humor could be, um, problematic? I’m now armed with a better grasp of Steele’s sensibilities, but at a glance, some statements were eminently misunderstandable. Or maybe he gave us too much credit. Either way, I wrote him off.
Even when I accidentally heard “Christian Woman” — and LOVED it — I never bothered to seek out Type O records. Real smart.
Finally, in 2005, I had a good feeling about Life Is Killing Me and copied it from a friend. Suddenly, in my mind, Peter Steele the character was nut-kicked by Peter Steele the musician. How could I have doubted this guy? With him as leader, Type O Negative extracted the best parts of Black Sabbath and stapled on truly Beatle-esque melodies and harmonies. Even with somewhat indifferent production, and the occasional wanton lyric, Type O’s records never failed to deliver a singular experience — despite such recognizable influences as the aforementioned. It’s as though the band not only drew from those bands but, miraculously, also matched their skill level. And that is the goddamn gospel truth.
In the blink of an eye, Type O changed in my estimation from an enduring, cartoonish cult band to Sunday headliner at the music festival of my heart. Judging from the reception to LIKM‘s tardy follow-up, Dead Again, I wasn’t alone in my awe for their awesomeness. This is why Steele’s shenanigans, gaffes, and incarceration did nothing to curb interest in the band. And this is why it is horrible that he is gone.