Reports have surfaced stating that Pete Steele, frontman for Brooklyn-based metal band Type O Negative, died on the evening of April 14, 2010 from heart failure.
Rumors of Steele’s death first arose late Wednesday night on Facebook from posts by friends of the musician’s family who had been notified. Just before midnight, Fused TV VJ Juliya Chernetsky, aka Mistress Juliya, posted to her Twitter account confirming that the 48-year-old musician had died. “He passed of heart failure today. Just spoke to Kenny,” Chernetsky wrote, presumably referring to Steele’s Type O bandmate guitarist Kenny Hickey.
As of 2AM EST, no other information has surfaced and no official statements released. We’ll update this story as soon as more details are available.
[UPDATE: The reports have now been confirmed. See below for full updates. Statement to come from family and the band later today.]
Steele was born Petrus T. Ratajczyk on January 4, 1962 in Brooklyn, NY. While working as a sanitation worker for the New York City Department of Sanitation in the 1980s — a job he always said he loved — Steele fronted thrash pioneers Carnivore, known for throwing raw meat into the crowd during their live shows. In 1990, Steele formed Type O Negative, which had a more gothic-metal look and sound. Steele played bass and was the lead vocalist for the band, as well as its main composer. The band eventually rose to fame and heightened popularity with their videos for ode to goth chicks “Black No. 1” and “Christian Woman,” and had continued to record and perform up until a few years ago.
During the band’s time in the spotlight, the musician appeared on the cover of Playgirl and posed fully nude for the magazine. Steele was known to suffer from depression and had had issues with substance abuse. In 2005, his Carnivore bandmate Keith Alexander was killed in a bike accident in Brooklyn.
The website for rock radio station KNAC.com is reporting that they have been able to confirm “according to a source from within the band” that Peter Steele has indeed passed away from heart failure at age 48. They add that the singer was apparently ill for a few days prior to his death.
Metal website Blabbermouth reports that Type O Negative keyboardist Josh Silver has confirmed to them that Pete Steele has passed away. No official cause of death has been released at this time. Blabbermouth is hosted by Roadrunner Records, which was the band’s record label through 2006.
CBS News has confirmed these reports as well.
In an email, Mike Renault, the band’s manager said, “Peter passed away last night. As of now it appears to have been heart failure. That’s all the details we have right now.”
The band’s official site has reopened its forums, with a message on the front page for fans “Please play nice and expect statements from the band and family later today. Thank you for your understanding and support.”
The Type O Negative official site has been updated with heartfelt sentiments from the band members, as well as Steele’s family. Official cause of death is still to come pending autopsy results. Funeral services will be private, but memorial services will be announced at a future date. It was noted that Steel had been sober for some time and had been in better health recently, and had planned to write and record new music.
Ironically Peter had been enjoying a long period of sobriety and improved health and was imminently due to begin writing and recording new music for our follow up to “Dead Again” released in 2007.
Here in the southern part of Brooklyn, Pete Steele is a household name. Everyone here knows someone who knows Pete Steele in less than six degrees. Half the people I know went to high school with him or worked with him or knew him in some way. I would see him in Home Depot and at the supermarket before and after he was famous. He was 6′ 7″ and built and had jet black long hair — a memorable figure as it is — and spoke, and sang, with an imposing baritone voice. It’s not surprising that I found out about his passing through my hometown friends on Facebook, and while I had hoped it was just a rumor — like the reports of his death in 2005 that turned out to be a publicity stunt — there were just too many people close to the family posting about his death.
While fans of Steele are left to mourn his passing, those of us here in Brooklyn are shocked and saddened by the news, as we have lost one of our own. He will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.
January 4, 1962 — April 14, 2010