Type O Negative was an American gothic metal band formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1989, by Peter Steele (lead vocals, bass), Kenny Hickey (guitar, co-lead vocals), Josh Silver (keyboards, backing vocals), and Sal Abruscato (drums, percussion), who was later replaced by Johnny Kelly. Their lyrical emphasis on themes of romance, depression, and death resulted in the nickname “the Drab Four” (in homage to the Beatles‘ “Fab Four” moniker). The band went platinum with 1993’s Bloody Kisses, and gold with 1996’s October Rust, and gained a fanbase through seven studio albums, two best-of compilations, and concert DVDs.
Steele died on April 14, 2010, at the age of 48; some sources report the cause of death as heart failure brought on by an aortic aneurysm, while others list sepsis caused by diverticulitis. Hickey and Kelly stated in a November 2010 interview with French music magazine Rock Hard that Type O Negative had broken up following Steele’s death.
Former Carnivore frontman Peter Steele, along with childhood friends Sal Abruscato, Josh Silver, and Kenny Hickey, formed Type O Negative and signed to Roadrunner Records. Shortly after signing in 1991 the band released their debut, Slow, Deep and Hard.
Type O Negative’s first album, Slow, Deep and Hard, incorporated dragging Black Sabbath-esque dirgeriffs, maniacal hardcore outbursts, and droning industrial and gothic atmospheres. The songs were long, multi-part theatrical epics, with lyrics loosely surrounding a story involving a man enacting revenge on a cheating girlfriend before ultimately contemplating his actions and committing suicide.
They began creating a new album that was supposed to be live. The subsequent 1992 album was entitled The Origin of the Feces and a warning label was put on the album cover: “Not Live at Brighton Beach”. The album contains faux-live recordings of songs from Slow, Deep and Hard, as well as previously unreleased songs such as “Are You Afraid” and “Hey Pete” (a cover of Jimi Hendrix‘s “Hey Joe” with altered lyrics) and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid“.
Type O Negative’s third album, Bloody Kisses, was released in 1993 to critical and listener acclaim, and eventually became the first record for Roadrunner to reach certified platinum status in the US.
Bloody Kisses mostly addressed loneliness and heartbreak, with songs like “Too Late: Frozen”, “Blood & Fire” and “Can’t Lose You”. The organ-driven “Set Me on Fire” is vintage 1960s garage rock, while “Summer Breeze” covered the 1972 Seals and Crofts hit. “Christian Woman” and “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)” became the most popular tracks, after having been edited down to radio-friendly lengths (the album versions were 9 and 11 minutes long respectively). In order to promote the album, Type O Negative embarked on a two-year world tour. During this time, the band was featured on MTV, VH1, and in Rolling Stone. In the midst of this media blitz, drummer Sal Abruscato quit the band to join another Brooklyn quartet, Life of Agony. Johnny Kelly, the band’s drum technician, was therefore hired as a full-fledged member. Bloody Kisses was re-released a year after the original release in a limited-edition Digipak form, including eight of the musical tracks from the original (omitting the “filler” tracks) and the previously unreleased “Suspended in Dusk”.
Type O’s October Rust picked up where Bloody Kisses left off, exploring themes of sex, nature and sensuality, first in a humorous sense on the single “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” and then taken much darker with “Love You to Death”. This record also saw a cover of Neil Young‘s “Cinnamon Girl” as well as the fan favorite, semi-serene “Green Man”. While not quite as successful as Bloody Kisses, the album was certified gold in the US, and was the first Type O Negative album to enter the top half of the Billboard Top 200, debuting at No. 42.