(Originally written April 15, 2010)
Today, I made Type O Negative/Carnivore singer Pete Steele my “80’s Metal Hunk of the Day” at Facebook. Moments after posting the photo, I learned that Pete had passed away. He apparently suffered heart failure, although no “official” cause of death has been released.
I met Pete a few times in the 80’s. We hung around the same circles and clubs, so it was bound to happen. The first time I saw him, we were both at the same party. My friend Mary introduced us. After that, I usually ran into him in the Village. Once, we bumped into each other coming out of the subway near 8th Street. Another time, we bumped into each other going into D’agostinos. Once, we ran into each other at a leather shop. Okay, that time, I saw him through the window and went in. He had been trying on boots. I pretended to shop for a belt until he noticed me and struck up a conversation. I kind of had a crush on him and I think he knew. He always smiled this crooked half-smile when he saw me coming his way. (I found out years later that it’s not hard to tell when I like someone; it’s written all over my face). Pete never let on that he knew about my crush and he never failed to stop and chat, even for a few minutes, and hug me before he went on his way, long hair swinging down his back, his 6’7″ frame hard to miss, encased in black leather and denim.
It’s well-publicized that Pete had issues in his life; issues that may have sent him to jail and to the psych ward. I also know that those “issues” may have helped him make some of the most haunting music I’ve ever heard. He claimed to be an atheist when I knew him. I read that he turned to Roman Catholicism later in life.
Pete will be remembered for many things: his voice, his size, his sheer presence, whether onstage, in a music video or on a Greenwich Village sidewalk. Some may remember him for famously baring it all for Playgirl. But the Pete I’ll remember is the man who always had a smile, a hug and a few minutes of time for a naive girl who wore her crush for him all over her face.