Peter was the bassist, lead singer and chief songwriter for one of my favorite bands, Type-O-Negative. Before that, he was in the hardcore band called Carnivore, though I'm not nearly as familiar with their music.
Type-O-Negative literally came out of nowhere for me. I still remember hearing the song "Gravitational Constant" on WMUL back in Huntington, West Virginia. I had never heard anything quite like it. It was angry, depressing, and oddly beautiful. I was immediately hooked.
The bipolar nature of Steele's songwriting struck a deep chord with me. He could be sarcastic, scatological, sexist and sultry... all in the same song! His music wasn't for everyone (and god knows their album sales reflected this fact), but it was very important to the folks who needed to hear it.
Over the years, as my psychological makeup changed, I drifted away from Type-O-Negative. This is certainly not reflective of Steele's songwriting; it remained vibrant and interesting until the very end. It's more a testament to the power and place his music occupied in my life.
As I changed, it became difficult to take the music with me. It 'belonged' to a period in my life; a period I had little interest in re-living, and even less interest in re-visiting. There was pain, anger, substance abuse, and plenty of self-destructive behavior. I was not a happy camper.
Steele seemed to understand these feelings, perhaps all too well. I guess it seems trite to say his music helped me through this turbulent period in my life, but there it is... he did. It feels disloyal somehow to have left him behind. I feel guilt and remorse, as though I lost touch with a good friend.
And now he's gone. And the kids who feel the same pain and anger I felt 20 years ago will have that much harder a time discovering his amazing music.
Peter Steele was always there for the disillusioned kids that needed him. His music let you know that you would pull through it somehow. He was right. And I thank him for that.