Have you ever listened to the legendary goth rock band from Brooklyn, Type O Negative? If so, then you must be aware of its large, looming, sexy, cool and goofy frontman Peter Steele.
I consider myself fortunate to be able to say I have several memories of personally interacting with Pete Steele beginning with a Christmas party at a local studio in December 1998 when I was 17. He gave my friend $20 to take a car service home since it was so late and my friend would have had to walk 45 minutes home through a potentially "dangerous" neighborhood.
Type O Negative was the first concert I attended in an arena (Nassau Coliseum Nov, 1996). I would see them several times again in the following years. Probably the single band I've seen live the most times in my life.
We would cross paths on several occasions over the years. One of the bands I was in, Levelsix, would even end up opening up for Carnivore (Pete's heavy metal band before Type O) during their 2006 reunion shows in a whirlwind weekend tour of the east coast. I saw various sides of Pete. I feel like he taught us by example both what to do and what not to do. He was quite generous in that way. He led his life publicly and allowed people to take from it what they would.
I don't know if he ever remembered my name, but he recognized me as the Norwegian/Viking guy as I had long blonde hair with a beard and a Norwegian flag sticker on my fretboard. One friend and I even had the strange opportunity to hang out with him backstage after Type O performed in Athens, Greece in summer 2007. Pete (and the rest of the guys who vaguely recognized us) were somehow not the least surprised (nor happy) to see us! It didn't even occur to them, "What the heck are these Brooklyn guys doing in Athens, GR? And how did they get back stage??" Pete just greeted us from a couch with one or two girls hanging around him. He was drinking wine and basically told us "Don't be like me". Ha!
I saw the following comment, which was a quote from Pete, on a YouTube video about Peter Steele this morning:
"It's better to burn quickly and bright, than slowly and dull without a fight."
- Peter Steele
This was my reply:
"I (and my band mates) had a conversation with Pete one day in the studio (my band was rehearsing next to Type O at the time in Rockaway, Queens around 2006) and I remember us having a conversation around some health issues. I think I (or one of my friends) may have suggested to Pete taking a more moderate or healthy approach to things and Pete responded with a similar quote. It seems he preferred the 'burn quick and bright' approach to life."
And one more thing. It's kind of a joke and it's kind of true. While Pete may sometimes have been accused of being racist due to some of his more outlandish lyrics and song titles, I seem to remember him defending himself, by saying something like, "Oh, please don't misunderstand me. I hate all people equally."
It was this casual humor about him as well as his own low opinion of himself that made him so attractive to many of us. We saw an extraordinary guy who was quite ordinary, funny, outlandish, flawed, cool and who seemed to be "living the dream" in many ways. And he was approachable. Anyway, all this to say I regarded him as kind of a larger than life "Uncle" figure to myself and my friends. And we still talk about him to this day as if he never left us.
Uncle Pete Steele, you still live in our hearts!