Game Changers: Celebrating Peter Steele’s 60th Birthday

Game Changers: Celebrating Peter Steele’s 60th Birthday

- By Corinne Westbrook

Peter Steele was, and continues to be, one of the greatest influences on rock and metal music.

Today would have been the “Green Man’s” 60th birthday and we want to celebrate both the man and the band, Type O Negative, that created a ripple effect over the past decades. Originally formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1989, Type O Negative defined goth metal and brought new emotional depths to the genre. Peter Steele and his bandmates paved the way for bands seeking to carve their own path, and Steele had been revered for his musical ability, his sense of humor and his raw, emotional expression.

To mark such an important birthday, we will cover some of the highlights of Peter Steele, and Type O Negative’s career.

Behind the Music - Musically speaking, Type O Negative broke down the barriers between the mainstream and slow, sad metal. By combining elements of doom, sludge, gothic and classic rock, Type O Negative made being sad, brooding and metal all at the same time acceptable. Metal did not need to be solely party music or sheer brutality, or solid political, but could be emotional, painful, and even, at times, suicidal. The raw bitterness of Type O Negative left a lasting mark on all the bands that came after them. The lasting impact Type O Negative has had on subsequent generations of musicians – from HIM and Pallbearer to Trivium, Oceans Of Slumber and Code Orange – they were one of the first true genre-blending pioneers.

Bloody Kisses - Type O Negative’s seminal album, Bloody Kisses, released in 1993, was the first ever Roadrunner album to reach gold and platinum status, with over 1 Million albums sold in various formats. The album thrust Type O Negative and Roadrunner into the limelight, giving us classics like "Christian Woman" and "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)". “Bloody Kisses was the first record to go gold in Roadrunner’s history – it was a dream come true!” Monte Conner beams. “There was a two-year period where Type O Negative took over from King Diamond as the biggest band on Roadrunner. For all the great records Roadrunner put out in the 90s - Machine Head, Fear Factory, whoever - I’ll always be most proud of working with Type O Negative on Bloody Kisses.”

"Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)" - Arguably the band’s most iconic song, Peter Steele actually wrote "Black No. 1" while driving a garbage truck, saying "I was waiting in line for three hours to dump 40 cubic yards of human waste at the Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station, and I wrote the song in my head. I'm not kidding you."

Retaining Control - Type O Negative would not bend when Roadrunner wanted to bring in an outside producer for their album, Bloody Kisses. The album was recorded live in the studio without a producer at all. Despite the continued insistence from Roadrunner Records, both Peter and Josh refused. In the end, Type O Negative recording the album DIY-style is part of what led it to be Roadrunner’s first platinum album. Type O did not even give them a demo of their next album, instead delivering it completed. Monte Conner, formerly of Roadrunner, remembers: Once the band had self-produced their masterpiece and it blew up, all of a sudden they had the power. They were very reluctant in the future to listen to us again and they wouldn't send us the pre-production demos for October Rust. Their attitude was, "We proved that we know what we're doing, right? You're just a record label. We will deliver the album to you. You sell it. Let us do our jobs." The success of Bloody Kisses put them in that position, which was fine because they did know exactly what they were doing and they continued to deliver the goods.

Touring With Mötley Crüe - Mötley Crüe chose Type O Negative as their support after the release of Bloody Kisses. Despite protests from management and booking agents, the members of Mötley Crüe continued to push for the band to be their opener. And despite some skepticism from Type O, they went from playing 100 - 200 people a night to over 5,000.

The Playgirl Shoot - Peter Steele once appeared on the cover of Playgirl magazine. While this shouldn’t - and wont - go down as one of Type O Negative or Peter Steele’s biggest accomplishments, it does serve to highlight their importance in the mainstream. Peter Steele helped to define the embodiment of sexiness in metal, something that had not yet penetrated (pun intended) the darker genres. Plenty of bands from the 80’s attempted to market their sex appeal, but many would question whether those bands were even “metal” at all, and they certainly didn’t have the dark appeal of Type O.

October Rust - October Rust marked the height of Type O Negative’s commercial prowess. Reaching #42 on the US Billboard 200 (and #26 in the UK), the album became an instant classic. What Bloody Kisses had started, October Rust cemented Type O Negative and Peter Steele as goth icons.

In The Movies - Type O Negative has been featured in several soundtracks over the years from "Blood and Fire (Out of the Ashes Remix)" on the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie soundtrack, "Love You to Death" in Bride of Chucky, to "Summer Breeze" in I Know What You Did Last Summer.

International Success - Despite never winning an award, Type O Negative saw and continues to see a mountain of success. The group maintained an international presence with 1996’s October Rust, 1999’s World Coming Down, 2003’s Life Is Killing Me and their seventh and final album, 2007’s Dead Again. According to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, Type O Negative has sold over 2.5 million albums and accumulated more than 100 million streams in the United States.

Sobriety - While not an accomplishment many want to discuss, it is one that nonetheless should be lauded. After many years of struggling with drug and alcohol dependency, Peter Steele achieved sobriety and broke away from his self destructive path. Bandmate John Kelly has made two things very clear in previous interviews: One, what he feels is most important was that Steele was sober when he died. And two: People still talking about Type O Negative years later is “the greatest testament” to everything the Drab Four achieved.

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