Petrus T. Ratajczyk—better known as Peter Steele, singer-bassist of goth-metal titan Type O Negative—has died. According to multiple sources including CBS News, Kerrang! and that other bastion of heavy-metal journalism, the Kansas City Star, Steele succumbed to heart failure Wednesday night at the age of 48.
As pointed out earlier by more cautious sources such as Blabbermouth, Steele pulled a prank about his own death in 2005 by posting a gravestone on the band's website that stated, "Peter Steele 1962-2005 Free At Last"—a joke that many took at face value at the time. Unfortunately it doesn't appear that Steele is crying wolf again; an official statement from the band's manager confirms that Steele died last night, while its website currently has a message urging fans to "Please play nice and expect statements from the band and family later today."
Infamous for his towering stature and bat-cave-like baritone, Steele was an icon of seething, creepy gloom, although the longtime, outspoken atheist converted to Catholicism in recent years. Type O Negative also has the distinction of being one of the most popular goth bands of all time: Its 1993 album, Bloody Kisses, went platinum on the back of the single "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)," which was featured on Beavis And Butt-Head, not to mention a hilariously grim rendition of Seals And Crofts' light-rock hit, "Summer Breeze" (which somehow escaped our recent Inventory about edgy cover songs).