Though not all goths love metal music, no truly goth column would be complete without the mention of the three sudden deaths that have stunned the metal world (and music world at large). Peter Steele of Type O Negative, Ronnie James Dio of Black Sabbath, and Paul Gray of Slipknot all passed away, leaving broken hearts and bands behind them.
Gray’s was the most recent death. The 38-year-old was found deceased in the TownePlace Suites hotel in Urbandale, Iowa, before noon on Monday, May 24th. Police reported that an employee of the hotel found his body hours after he had died, and no evidence suggested a crime had been committed. An autopsy on Tuesday, May 25th, was inconclusive, and the results of a toxicology test have been ordered before the death certificate is completed.
Gray, Slipknot’s bassist from its inception and known as #2, or “The Pig,” leaves behind a wife, GodsGirls model Brenna, who is expecting the couple’s first child, a daughter, in September. A press conference with the visibly devastated remaining members of the band (as well as Gray’s wife) was held on Tuesday, May 25th, and can be viewed at the end of this article.
A week and a day earlier, Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where the legendary singer was being treated. His death came about a month after the 67-year-old spoke with optimism about his prognosis at an awards ceremony.
Dio’s wife and manager, Wendy, broke the news to blabbermouth.net in a statement in which she said, “Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45 a.m. [on Sunday] 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away.” Dio, who replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath and had several other bands of his own, is survived by Wendy and one adopted son from his previous marriage.
The “month of mayhem” began with the passing of a goth prodigy, Type O Negative’s Peter Steele. At 48 years, the vocalist suffered heart failure after a short illness on Wednesday, April 14th. The tragedy occurred when Steele had been sober for years and reinvented his life to leave behind his alcoholic, violent, atheistic past. The band was also due to record new music as a follow-up to their 2007 album, Dead Again. Members of Type O Negative each wrote their own memorials and posted them to the band’s official site. Steele is survived by his five sisters and millions of friends and fans worldwide.
Even if you’re not a metalhead, you cannot deny the legacy that each of these three men left on goth culture and music. Dio and Steele especially forged paths for the rise of goth music and metal in general with their unique music. Dio’s invention of the “devil horns” hand sign has permeated concerts for decades, while Steele’s baritone voice is unmistakable to any educated goth. Gray helped reinvent the image of popular metal with his band’s use of grotesque masks, for which they are known.
More than that, each of these men inspired and touched individuals around the world with their music. Even in South Carolina, goths are reeling from the loss of these three figures. Carrie Kelley, a Darlington resident with goth interests and tendencies, sums up Steele’s impact thusly: “No one was doing what Peter Steele started with Type O Negative. He was a true artist and has inspired many. His sudden loss was a shock. However, he left a legacy behind that his fans will keep alive.” Of Dio, Kelley says, “It’s hard to put into words what a musical genius Ronnie James Dio was. He has been rocking us for decades and will still be into eternity.”
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