Dead, born as Per Yngve Ohlin (16 January 1969 – 8 April 1991), also known as Pelle, was a Swedish black/death metal vocalist and lyricist best known for his work with Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. He also performed as a vocalist of the Swedish death metal band Morbid on their demo December Moon.
He was born in 1969 in Stockholm, Sweden. He had health problems as a young child, he suffered from sleep apnea and later, at the age of ten, he suffered internal bleeding when his spleen ruptured. The reason of the injury is not clear, in the documentary ‘Per ‘Dead’ Ohlin, Necrobutcher says it was because of an ice skating accident. However, in the Swedish book Blod eld död, his brother claimed that Pelle was bullied at school and one day the beatings got so hard that they caused the ruptured spleen. He was immediately taken to a hospital, and although he was dead at the arrival, doctors managed to bring him back to life. While being dead for some time, he experienced some visions and was fascinated by what he saw.
When he grew up, his musical influences were Black Sabbath, Kiss, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Motörhead, Venom, Sodom and Mercyful Fate. He founded a death metal band Morbid in 1986, which he recorded a demo December Moon with. When he realised that it was not what he wanted, he got interested in the emerging Norwegian black metal scene, particularly the band Mayhem. He contacted the band members and offered to be a singer, he was soon accepted and moved to Kråkstad, near Oslo.
He introduced the new image to the band, for the live performances and photo shoots, he started to wear the ‘corpse paint’, which consisted of black and white make-up, making his face look like a dead. Even though some artists like Alice Cooper or Kiss have done it before, in his case it was not just a trick to gain fame, he actually believed he was dead. He was fascinated by the process of body decomposition and used to cut himself during live performances and social meetings. He has also participated in the Candlemass music video ‘Bewitched’.
With time, his mental condition has worsened. It is believed that living with Mayhem’s guitarist and leader, Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth, has contributed to the increasing paranoia and suicidal tendencies. Euronymous was fascinated by his interest in death, he considered it to be a part of band’s image, and according to people close to Mayhem, he encouraged Pelle to commit suicide. It eventually took place on April 8th, 1991 when no one was home (some say that Euronymous left him alone deliberately), Pelle cut his wrists and when it didn’t work, he shot himself. He was buried at Österhaninge begravningsplats (Eastern Haninge graveyard) in Stockholm. His suicide has spiralled Mayhem into chaos that led to burning churches and eventually Euronymous’ murder by Varg Vikernes.
Pelle was described as being odd, introverted, reserved and quiet, he had a dark sense of humour and liked drawing. Mayhem drummer Jan Axel ‘Hellhammer’ Blomberg remembers him as ‘a very strange personality […] depressed, melancholic, and dark’. According to Emperor’s drummer Bård ‘Faust’ Eithun:
‘He wasn’t a guy you could know very well. I think even the other guys in Mayhem didn’t know him very well. He was hard to get close to. I met him two weeks before he died. I’d met him maybe six to eight times, in all. He had lots of weird ideas. I remember Aarseth was talking about him and said he did not have any humor. He did, but it was very obscure. Honestly, I don’t think he was enjoying living in this world, which of course resulted in the suicide.’
It is possible that Pelle might have suffered from Cotard delusion, one of its symptoms are the delusional beliefs that the patients are already dead, do not exist, are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs. To read more about it, see the link in Wikipedia.
Pelle’s suicide letter
‘Excuse the blood, but I have slit my wrists and neck. It was the intention that I would die in the woods so that it would take a few days before I was possibly found. I belong in the woods and have always done so. No one will understand the reason for this anyway. To give some semblance of an explanation I’m not a human, this is just a dream and soon I will awake. It was too cold and the blood kept clotting, plus my new knife is too dull. If I don’t succeed dying to the knife I will blow all the shit out of my skull. Yet I do not know. I left all my lyrics by “Let the good times roll”—plus the rest of the money. Whoever finds it gets the fucking thing. As a last salutation may I present “Life Eternal”. Do whatever you want with the fucking thing. / Pelle.
I didn’t come up with this now, but seventeen years ago.’
Since he used to refer to himself as Pelle, let me use this name too, instead of Dead.