After years of struggling with substance abuse and health issues, Type O Negative singer/bassist Peter Steele was in a good place before his sudden death, his bandmates said. The towering frontman died at age 48 on Wednesday from apparent heart failure.
"It is with great sadness that we inform you that Type O Negative frontman, bassist and our bandmate, Peter Steele passed away last night of what appears to be heart failure," keyboardist Josh Silver, guitarist Kenny Hickey and drummer Johnny Kelly, the grief-stricken rockers, said in a statement on their Web site. "Ironically Peter had been enjoying a long period of sobriety and improved health and was imminently due to begin writing and recording new music for our follow up to Dead Again released in 2007."
The group said an official cause of death has not been determined, pending autopsy results, and that funeral services will be private, with a possible public memorial at some point.
"We are truly saddened to lose our friend and appreciate the tremendous outpouring today from around the world," the trio wrote.
Each man then wrote his own personal remembrance of the quixotic metal frontman. Silver, in particular, seemed torn by the loss of his close friend and frequent musical foil.
"Peter, My endless source of frustration, (as I'm yours) you have really done it this time," Silver wrote. "You have changed and touched countless lives through music, comedy and often brutal honesty. You've made life both interesting and irritating and I could not imagine not having known you for 37 years. It still isn't true in my mind but in time I will miss you and the creating that we all endured together. We certainly disagreed constantly and I believe (and hope) we all learned from each other. Should I call you my brother, friend or neighbor? I can only call you Peter (and usually after 2 p.m.). We laughed at ourselves more times then I can count. Knowing humans are preposterous creatures and I know we reveled in that fact. I will miss you in time, but at this moment your premature departure seems surreal and has pissed me off to no end. Though I never told you that I harbor a deep respect for you, I do. Goodbye my friend."
Hickey called Steele one of the most brilliant and funny personalities in music, saying his humor and talent were 100 percent real. "Half the time people thought he was joking, but he was actually telling the truth," he wrote. "Part of me died with him."
Kelly found it hard to put his grief into words, admitting, "I'm not sure if I should eulogize or roast you. Both good and bad, we went on one hell of a ride together and sadly, the ride has come to an end. You truly were a unique person. Your music touched many people. Myself included. Whether it was talking about the Beatles, power tools, how Pluto was no longer considered a planet or calling me at 3 a.m. asking me to drive to your house to have a fistfight with you, you always kept it interesting. It was a privilege to have been your bandmate. It's something that I will always cherish."
Steele's family also released a statement, confirming that the singer died after a short illness, though no details were given on what the health issue was. "The music world has lost a great talent, and music fans worldwide are mourning, but for our family we are mourning a beloved brother, uncle, cousin, friend and funny man," the statement said. "Peter Steele was a complex man, known for his brooding looks, his self-deprecating sense of humor, unique view of the world, and most of all his loyalty to his fans, friends and family. Survived by five sisters, the eldest living sister notes that he was more than our brother, he was our son. His untimely death is tragic — a great loss to us and to music."