Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Remembering Peter Steele

It was with great sadness that it was revealed that Type O Negative front-man, Peter Steele, had died aged 48. Today Drew adds his feelings on the passing of an influential and perhaps under appreciated star.

I recently read that "When a great comedian dies, culture loses a little of it's flavor." That was written by John Lahr in the foreword to Bill Hicks Love All The People and while I agree entirely with the sentiment I can't help but feel that comedian should read entertainer, because in the end that's what the Hicks' and the Steeles of the world are. I picked up Love All The People shortly after hearing about the death of Peter Steele and it was while thinking about how I felt about Steele's passing that I stumbled across Lahr's insight. Needless to say, it gave me a real sense of perspective.

Lahr reminded me that the entertainers of the world, be they the greatest names or the most ambiguous pub bands are great not just because they are masters of their craft, but also for their courage. It takes guts for an artist to go in front of a demanding audience to bare their hart and talk to the world as they see it.

It was perhaps this honesty that made Petrus T. Ratajczyk great. Under the stage name Peter Steele, he became known for relentlessly exploring the darker side of life and having a truly wicked sense of humor. This was apparent in 2005 with rumors of Steele's death appearing after a tombstone appeared on the band's website showing Steele's name and the dates 1962-2005. While the tombstone allegedly referred to Type O Negatives' departure from RoadRunner Records, some have looked back on the prank as being in bad taste, but there is no denying that the event typified Steele's career.

Steele played in a number of bands, including Carnivore and Fallout, before finally beginning on arguably his greatest legacy, Type O Negative. However, despite spanning seven studio albums I always thought of Type O Negative as an unappreciated band. Where I come from they were always the band everyone had heard of but hardly anyone listened to. For those of us lucky enough to have discovered the band, they represented a timeless underground sound that contained strong recurring themes of death, depression and romance that where often expressed in a raw and honest way that differed from the mainstream.

Steele is said to have been found dead after apparent hart failure after enjoying a period of improved health after years of substance abuse. It had been suggested that he was preparing to begin recording new material in the coming months. While many websites have spoken ironically of Steele's past pranks, apparent improved health and the themes of his music, I urge you all to remember that Petrus T. Ratajczyk was a man as much as an entertainer. While perhaps his life will become the paradigm of rock legend it was the honesty and courage of a great man that made the legend possible.

I was truly saddened by the news of Steele's death and would like to express my regret at his passing to all who knew him. However, as long as his music exists I will listen fondly to the monetary glimpses into the mind of a great man.  

         

         

1 comment:

iMike said...

One of the best and most unique voices of all time.

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