Peter Steele, born as Petrus Thomas Ratajczyk (January 4, 1962 – April 14, 2010), was the lead singer, bassist and composer for the American gothic metal band Type O Negative.
Peter was born in Red Hook, Brooklyn into a Roman Catholic family, the youngest of six children, with five older sisters. He was raised in the Bensonhurst and Brighton Beach neighbourhoods of Brooklyn and attended Edward R. Murrow High School located in the Midwood neighbourhood of Brooklyn. His father was of Russian and Polish origins, and his mother of Scottish-Irish and Norwegian descent. His father fought in World War II and later worked at a shipyard.
He got interested in music very quickly, he started his guitar and bass lessons when he was twelve and his major musical influence were the bands like Black Sabbath and the Beatles. In the eighties he formed two bands playing heavy music, first Fallout and then Carnivore, it was the time when the New York hardcore scene was flourishing. In the early nineties he formed Type O’Negative with his friends Josh Silver, Kenny Hickey and Sal Abruscato and recorded two albums with the band which seem to resemble his previous bands. However, the biggest artistic and commercial success came in 1993 when they released the album called Bloody Kisses, which was a breakthrough both in their career and in the birth of gothic metal scene because they merged really heavy sound with lyrical melodies. The band started touring and released the next album October Rust which also turned out to be a huge success but this active lifestyle put a strain on Peter’s life. He was already having depressive episodes earlier and he was openly acknowledging he was using Prozac, an antidepressant, but in the late nineties things got worse because of his parents’ deaths which was reflected in Peter’s lyrics concentrating around the theme of death. This was probably what lead him to drug abuse and despite a successful rehab it was an aortic aneurysm that eventually killed him in 2010.
His death was widely mourned in the metal world, such bands as Moonspell, Lacuna Coil, Biohazad, Crowbar, Voyager, Swallow the Sun and Danzig either wrote the songs about him or dedicated their albums to him.