Many rock musicians can tell you that their fathers didn't always approve of the career path they had chosen (especially for hard-working immigrants who wanted their sons to have a trade), sometimes fathers and sons don't see eye to eye about everything. Even though Pete's dad didn't always understand the music -- he understood the musical gene that ran in the family -- especially since Pete got his voice from his father.
Peter Ratajczyk Sr. with a very young Peter Steele
Written by Peter's sister Pat:
Momma tolerated the words and volume of Pete's creations in order to be proud of her son’s accomplishments. Dad, well that was a different story … this music was not like Bing Crosby and Big Band music he was used to. Pete got his baritone voice from Dad who sang the “... many brave hearts are asleep in the deep ...” sailor song as a lullaby to baby Pete. An amazing singer in his own right, there were also the ba-ba-ba-boom Bing Crosby croons, and the “When I’m calling You -ou-ou-ou” of opera singer Nelson Eddy & Jeanette McDonald.
Nettie & Pete always threw the family parties, always had a piano (and/or piano rolls) in the house, were always singing & dancing through the house, and they loved to perform their versions of the songs from “ShowBoat” .. Dad doing his baritone “Old Man River” rendition, while Mom would twist a hanky while she cried out “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”. Or they were Fanny Brice and Allan Jones. Or doing a Fred & Ginger two-step (Mom definely had the advantage). They were 39 and 40 yrs old when Pete was born. All Pete’s friends’ parents were of the Korean or Vietnam Wars days; Dad was from WWII. Life in the 30’s and 40’s was soooo different than the 60’s & 70”s.
A true romantic, Dad - although sincerely proud of his son’s musical & vocal talents- had a hard time relating to heavy metal. And even though he shook his head at the raunchy words, we would catch Dad numerous times standing by the (rehearsal) basement door, head poking into the doorway, tapping his foot, listening attentively to the chords and changes, and sporting a vicarious grin.
Peter Ratajczyk working at Todd Shipyards in Downtown Brooklyn