Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pete Steele is Brown Bread

Woke up this morning with a big fucking spot on my lip. That sucked.

That was just the start of a bad morning. Whilst surfing the net and drinking my morning tea, I read the news that Pete Steele had died of heart failure.

Now, mine and Pete's worlds are two very different places indeed. But for a few weeks in December 2007, our worlds came together. Speedhorn supported Pete and his band Carnivore on a European tour. Who didn't we play with really? Anyway...

We didn't exactly fit the bill musically on those shows, but from the very first moment we met Peter Steele, we knew it was going to be a fun tour.

We had driven to the first show in Essen, Germany in our trusty van Betty. We were stood around the venue in the car park, early on the day of the show, wondering when we'd get our first glimpse of the legendary Peter Steele. Jay was obsessed with the Playgirl spread he'd done and wanted to know if his dong really was that big. We'd only been standing there a couple of minutes when Pete comes slumbering out of their tour bus with another couple of people. They come walking towards us and we're thinking, “right, here we go, let's see what this is all about...”

Pete kinda comes charging at us with the other people hanging behind him. Fuck me, he was a big bastard! He stoops over a very small feeling Raging Speedhorn and asks us, “Who's the bass player?”. Our bass player, Little Dave, steps forward.

Pete then pulls out a bottle of Vodka from his big army jacket and thrusts it at Dave, “You want some breakfast?”. It's 10.30 am. We all crack up laughing. Dave takes the bottle from him and nervously takes a swig. Whilst he has his lips around the bottle Pete then says in the most matter of fact way, “I just had an AIDS test yesterday....positive.” By now we're all pissing ourselves laughing.

Another five minutes of banter ensues, about us being Limey bastards etc., and then just before he heads into the venue he tells Dave in a more serious manner, that if his equipment ever goes down whilst we're on stage playing, then just plug straight into his gear. He then tells the rest of us that we're welcome to anything from their rider. From that moment on, I had nothing but respect for Pete Steele.

So reading the news today that Pete had passed away from heart failure at the age of forty-eight was indeed a sad blow, if not an all together unexpected one.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I have never, in my life, witnessed any other human being drink as much as that man! On his rider, every day, he had at least three bottles of fine red wine, a bottle of single malt, a bottle of vodka and as many beers as you could wish for. And most days, he got through the fucking lot of it. He would have his wine with him, up front on stage, on a box next to his bass equipment , and he would be drinking it mid song. He had a big rubbish bin somewhere hidden at the back of the stage, that he could use to puke up in. And he never missed a note. He was an awesome bass player!

He treated us like sons on that tour. Weirdly enough, it seemed to me he treated some of his own band and crew like shit, but to us he was a true gent. And he had made the time honoured mistake of inviting us to whatever we wanted from his rider. But even we, on this occasion, had met our match. There was no way we could keep up with Pete.

Joking aside though, it was sad to see the state he was in sometimes. I became good friends with Carnivore's tour manager, Lotje, and she told me that he barely ate on tour. She would put food out for him each day, so he'd have something to eat on the tour bus when he woke. But each day he would stir at some point in the afternoon, get out bed, puke up and then start drinking. This one time, he told one of our guys, completely serious, that he drank to escape his own thoughts. And you believed him. He was an incredibally intelligent man, underneath all the nonsense. It's was sad to see a man of his stature battling with inner demons like that.

So, although I'm saddened by the news, I'm not surprised.

It's weird looking back now, that our paths crossed for a short space of time. And although the shows for our part, were rarely more than luke warm, we still had a really fun time on tour.

I have one memory of Pete Steele that will last with me forever. And it is this.

During the entirety of the tour, he would have this small, steel tool box with him. He carried it everywhere. One time in Copenhagen, we were sat in their dressing room partying with Pete and his booze, cracking up, when Pete stands and says he's going to have a shower. He picks up his tool box and takes it into the shower room with him, as if it's completely normal. The Speedhorn guys all stare at each other, and then burst out laughing. What the fuck has he got in that tool box. The mystery goes on for the entire tour. Pete's tool kit...we imagined no end of wild stories.

And then on a day right towards the end of the tour, we're sat around in a communal band room chatting away, Pete sitting silently on his own with his thoughts, off to the side, as he did so often, with his tool kit on his lap. He gets up and walks out for a moment, leaving his tool kit behind. “Right, this is our chance!”, we think. We shoot over to the tool box, open it up and look inside. It's contents...a neatly, plastic wrapped sandwich. And that was it. He's most likely been fucking with us the whole tour...

Pete, you were a gent and a scholar. Although your music never meant much to me, that tour will live with me forever.

R.I.P. Big Man.

12 comments:

  1. So sad! Crazy to read about the Essen Show 2007! That was the show where Marcus and I met. I remember this evening so well. I was sitting in the Raging Speedhorn backstage room, Carnivore was in Stage and you guys were loading Betty while I was waiting, having a beer. Suddendly the door opened and the Carnivore guys came in to get dressed and ready for the famous Blood Show. I was a bit scared as I was not sure of I should leave or stay and how they would react. I was totally impressed of this big man Peter Steele. I could almost say nothing. And this rarely happens! Suddendly He came over and HE asked ME of I could PLEASE help him to tie his nutcher skirt as his hands were shaking too much! Such a polite and friendly man! I am sure you can imagine how nervous I was ;-) but I did a good job!
    Great show, great evening! Yeah and Marcus and I met there. Destiny!
    R.I.P. Peter Steele

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  2. ah what a shame, yeah he was a very nice guy indeed if not a little strange. That tour was one of the best times I ever had with RSH due to Petes antics and genuine hospitality and kindness towards us.
    The big man's gonna be missed.
    R.I.P.

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  3. First time visitor at punkrock and coffee. I'll be back that's for sure. You're a great writer Gareth!

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  4. Hey man, it's Henry from Brooklyn. Just wanna say that this post was amazing. I was with his friends when we got the message that he passed away. We were insanely crushed by the sad news. He was such an inspiration to me. The worst part about this was that he was clean and sober for months. He was really trying to right every wrong that he did. Well, he's finally at peace...

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  5. Hey Henry. I'm sorry for your loss. He was indeed a true gent. I'm sad to hear that he was doing so well with his sobrierty before he passed away too. Typically irnonic...

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  6. Awesome story and great blog. Peter Steele was a big influence for me, both musically and personally, I totally dig any Type O Negative or Carnivore records. The day he died I was into studio mixing a Carnivore cover for a forthcoming Machetazo record, a morbid coincidence.
    RIP tallman, hope to see ya in hell sooner or later.

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  7. Thans for the story...funny but also so sad.

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  8. That was a lovley post =)

    I didn't get the same treatment when I played with Raging Speedhorn though.... ;)

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  9. Haha, sorry if we were a bunch of wankers Greg! ;-)

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  10. Peter Steele Ratajczyk from Type o Negative: “After my mother passed away last year and a couple of other things happened, I pretty much got back to my faith. I was born Roman Catholic. Believe it or not, I go tot church on Sunday and I do read the Bible. But I don’t read it as a how to live your life book. I read it as if I have a question I can open any page. If you’re open minded you will get the answer from a passage. And you will get a different answer if you read the same passage but it will still be just as worthy. ““I went to confession for the first time in 30 years. And the priest was very happy that I had come back to church and stuff. I didn’t go into each and every sin otherwise he would have to take two weeks vacation (laughs). I said ‘Father I did wrong and I want o apologize to God for my behavior and I’m going to try for it to not happen again.’ It’s better to pay in this life then in the afterlife. "I have pretty much been instructed to say three things: One is that God will not be the man let the man be the man. That abortion is the killer of angels and I am guilty of that myself. And that peace on earth shall not come until this state of design has been converted to Christianity. And that you are going to fuckin pay for what you say and that’s your ticket to death so. . ." "My mother always told me if I really didn’t wan to do something, if I was really tired, but if I had helped someone and I really went out of my way for them but I asked nothing for it, that I should donate my energy to the souls in purgatory—meaning that to give my goodness to those who are trapped. This is purgatory/limbo. This is a very Catholic thing that very few people really understand." “Ever since I have come back to my faith, such incredibly strange things have been happening. Ten times a day if I ask God for a sign, through numbers and letters I will get it. I believe that God speaks to everyone in a way that only that person can understand, but I have been enlightened…you have to ask to be enlightened. I ask these questions and I get the answers. I don’t hear God’s voice. That satisfies me.” “When I said I have hit rock bottom, it’s not in a bad way--it’s in a good way. I’ve found piece on something solid and now I know what the meaning of life. I’ve always thought that the meaning of life was to try to find something to live for. Now I realize, all this time, it is finding something to die for. It’s been right there all the time I will die for my faith. I am going to. I know it.”

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  11. Wow - the story! I always thought he was an asshole. :(

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  12. I know... I realise now that there are lots of people on this planet I consider to be assholes, but maybe under the surface they aren't...or maybe they are. It was fun getting to find out first hand that Pete Steele was a true gentleman though.

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