Prompted by Pawl Basile’s ‘Living the American Nightmare’ – because every day is Halloween!
A very, very long time ago, I sold my soul. Not to the Devil, at least not until later, but to the one thing above all others that I live for and live with and live on and live off.
I sold my soul to rock’n’roll.
In my world, rock’n’roll – however you choose to define it, or whatever genre you choose to define it with – is any of the music that I love. And by extension, any of the performers who create it, sing it, make it breathe and take on a life of its own – the performers who then pass it on to you and become a voice for all you could never articulate half so well or so heartfelt.
Because that’s what it comes down to, people – a voice. The voice that roars in your dark, the voice that haunts your dreams and aspirations, the voice that pushes that one button you never even knew you had, hits that one soft, vulnerable spot in your subconscious bedrock that makes your head explode and ensures that your mind, your outlook, your entire life philosophy will never, ever be the same again.
In my own Faustian parody/rock’n’roll novel-in-progress, ‘Quantum Demonology’, my protagonist has a name for those – she calls them Primeval Forces of the Universe, related to the four universal laws of physics, because to her, to me, and to the legions out there just like us, that’s how important they are.
Put a gun to my head and ask me to name my own, and the first name on that Greatest Hits list, no question, is Peter Steele of Type O Negative.
He first came to my attention back in 1987, when a small review for Carnivore’s ‘Retaliation’ in the music section of Playboy magazine caught my eye, and some time later, a song called ‘Male Supremacy’ caught my ear. I had never in my life heard anything like it, never heard any lyrics quite like it, and forever after, it became a litmus test for any hopeful testosterone bomb hoping to stick around. If they got it, if they understood that unique brand of sarcasm, they might get a repeat, and if not – sayonara, sunshine!
But it wasn’t until Carnivore evolved into the beast that was Type O Negative that my interest became all-out obsession. And I do mean – obsessed. No other band in my life has had such an impact, and no other CDs have had to be so frequently replaced – four times in the case of their 1996 album, ‘October Rust’. Simply because I can’t imagine life without them. Simply because they sounded like no other band on Planet Earth. Simply because I can mention very few other bands I can listen to and hear something new – on the 217th play.
On April 14th this year, Peter died of heart failure aged 48. Two days later, on a humdrum city bus, I was accidentally listening to ‘Bloody Kisses’ for some sick, demented reason, and suddenly, without warning, made a complete public spectacle of myself by bawling like a baby over the death of someone I barely knew and had met on only two occasions. But I knew that voice, I knew that diehard, damn-them-all hopeless romanticism, I knew the music we would lose, and above all else, I knew just what kind of musician, what kind of songwriter the world had lost. One strange lady I never knew came up to me and asked what had happened. I told her, with no small sense of irony, that there had been a death in the family. Because in the world I live in, there had.
I’ve written loads about Type O Negative. My first ever craptacular album review, called ‘The Aural Anaconda’, playlists and a birthday ode and even an elegy written by my soggy Kleenex as soon as I got off that city bus. That unholy Brooklyn quartet got me writing, and I haven’t stopped since, as anyone who reads this blog can tell.
Even today, I’m still writing about him, but quite possibly not in a manner anyone expected. Saint Peter, in ‘Quantum Demonology’, is a Polish alchemist – with a few twists up his sleeve.
Today is Halloween. Today, just as the man wrote on the 2007 album ‘Dead Again’, it’s Halloween in Heaven, with Peter playing bass and John Bonham on drums and Hendrix on guitar in one helluva jam.
Today, just like all the days that bass-baritone sneaks into my iPod, I’ll be listening to Saint Peter. And below, a few showcases to illustrate just what kind of talent we’ve lost, and just how much he’s missed. (All links to the official YouTube videos, but unfortunately, embedding them into this blog has been disabled, with the exception of the last)
Because, dude – you said it yourself:
Every day is Halloween!
And you are missed – every day.