Who was Peter Steele?
The late American singer-songwriter Petrus Thomas Ratajczyk – known better by his professional name Peter Steele – was born in New York City, USA, on 4 January 1962, meaning that Capricorn was his zodiac sign. He’s perhaps remembered best for having been the lead vocalist and bassist of the gothic metal band Type O Negative, while he had previously been a founding member of the trash metal band Carnivore and the heavy metal band Fallout.
Education and early life
Peter was raised in New York City alongside his five older sisters, by their Catholic parents; his mother was a housewife and passed away aged 83 in 2005, and his father was a World War II veteran and died in 1995, aged 74.
Peter was 12 when he began playing the guitar, and 13 when he took on the bass guitar; although left-handed, he played bass as if he were right-handed. This happened because he was to be kicked from one of his first bands Aggression unless he switched from rhythm to bass guitar; left-handed bass guitars were expensive at that time, so Peter learned to play the right-handed bass.
He studied at a local high school in New York City, and upon matriculating in 1980 began working for the New Yok City’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
Peter’s music career was officially launched in 1979, when he formed the band Fallout; they disbanded in 1982, and he then formed Carnivore. He attracted quite a lot of attention while performing with Carnivore, mostly with his songs which dealt with misogyny, war and religion; their debut album “Carnivore” came out in 1985, and was followed by their second album “Retaliation” in 1986. Carnivore disbanded in 1988.
Peter and his childhood friends Sal Abruscato, Kenny Hickey and Josh Silver founded their band Type O Negative in 1989; its original name was ‘Repulsion’, but was changed in 1990 because of the grindcore band with the same name. Peter wanted the band’s second name to be Subzero, but after he learned that the name was taken, he went along with Type O Negative; the band was then signed to Roadrunner Records.
Their first album “Slow, Deep and Hard” came out in 1991, and the band toured Europe to support it; their second album “The Origin of the Feces” was released in 1992. They became famous after their third album, “Bloody Kisses” came out in 1993, mostly about death, sex and love; it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and made Type O Negative one of the most popular gothic metal bands in the US.
The band’s fourth album “October Rust” came out in 1996, and was certified Gold by RIAA. Peter was dealing with personal issues during the making of Type O Negative’s fifth album “World Coming down”, released in 1999, thus its themes of drug addiction and death.
The band’s sixth album “Life Is Killing Me” followed on 17 June 2003, and the year 2005 saw Type O Negative leave Roadrunner Records and sign with SPV Records. They performed at the 2006 Wacken Open Air Festival, and the following year saw the release of their seventh and final album “Dead Again”.
Peter posed nude for a 1995 issue of the magazine “Playgirl”, and was disappointed about doing it after learning that only about 20 percent of its readers were female.
He made a guest appearance in numerous talk-shows, including “The Howard Stern Show”, “The Jerry Springer Show” and “Ricki Lake”, while he was also a bit of an actor, having appeared in a 2003 episode of the series “Oz” and the 2003 movie “Dirtbags (Armpit of Metal)”. Peter also appeared in the 2005 movie “Bad Acid”, and was featured in the 2011 documentary movie “Living the American Nightmare”.
Type O Negative's Peter Steele was born on this date in 1962. Read our classic 2010 interview with his Type O bandmates as they mourned a death in the family. https://t.co/ktIPUsdbFI pic.twitter.com/RJXpHw4ELm
— revolvermag (@Revolvermag) January 4, 2018
Peter gave an interview not long before his death, revealing that his drug addiction had caused his health to decline.
He was 48 when he died on 14 April 2010, from sepsis caused by diverticulitis. The members of the band Type O Negative chose to disband rather than to find someone to replace Peter, claiming that they had no interest in continuing with Peter gone,. stating that ‘Type O Negative died with Peter’.
Many bands paid tribute to Peter by releasing songs about him, including the band Necrophagia with song “Trick R. Treat (The Last Halloween)” and the band Lacuna Soil with “My Spirit”, while Biohazard dedicated their entire 2012 album “Reborn in Defiance” to Peter.
Love life and relationships
Many of Peter’s songs were about his unsuccessful relationships, as well as about his unsuccessful marriage.
He married non-celebrity American Donna White in 1984, and she often travelled with Type O Negative during their tours; it’s believed that the two had been together for two years prior to exchanging vows, but they divorced in the same year.
Peter was also once in a relationship with Mardie Sheiken, a non-celebrity American woman, but no details about her have been disclosed.
Peter was single at the time of his death, was once married to Donna White and didn’t have children.
Interesting facts and mental health issues
Peter disappeared from media in 2005, and rumors about his death began circulating the internet; he returned in 2006 and revealed that he had spent some time at Kings County Hospital’s psychiatric ward, as his drug addiction had led him to develop paranoia. He stated that he was suffering from bipolar disorder and was often depressed, and had switched from being an atheist to being Roman Catholic in 2007; it’s also widely known that Peter had tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrists on 15 October 1989.
Despite his ‘menacing stage appearance’, Peter was described as a ‘friendly, funny and generous man’ by his friends and colleagues, while famous British musician Anthony Frank Iommi of the no longer active British rock ‘n’ roll band Black Sabbath described him as a ‘tall, big and very, very nice guy’.
Some of Peter’s favorite hobbies were lifting weights, reading books about science, and customizing his 1985 Pontiac Grand Prix car.
Appearance and wealth
Peter had brown eyes and black hair, was 6ft 8ins (2.03m) tall and weighed around 245lbs (110kgs).
His net worth, at the time of his passing, was estimated at over $1 million.