The Inspirations of Classical Music Gods

Many of you have asked about the creative process of how Peter Steele formulated his songs. I think the only person to answer that question is Peter himself. As Josh, Sal and Johnny have noted, Peter would come into band rehearsals with songs in his heart, the sheet music prepared and the words in his head - any of his bandmates would have seen all that first hand. But it's what happens during these band rehearsals that formulates the songs.

Photo by:  HardRock publisher Marc Villanova
posted by Lorraine Brenner
on Louie Montalvo's 13Casketcrew13 FB page

From the other side, alot of Peter's music came from feelings and life experiences that touched him so deeply. Remember, while he was a big, larger than life guy, just like his lyrics say, he was not made of Steele. There was a very sensitive, sentimental part of this big man that came to life when he took out a pencil and started writing.

Other times, Peter would get a subject in his head that he wanted to talk and debate about - like religion, sexuality, politics, death, life, hate, math - and he'd ask opinions to those around him. He would speak to his mother and father about these subjects. He'd debate his sisters about life's situations and then next thing you knew, what you were talking about with him becomes a song.

In Peter's musical education, there were many turning points that inspired him to take what he loved of rock music and classical music and combine it to his liking. From a teacher in H.S. to a music composition class in college, Peter learned that a song tells a story ... it has passion ... and it provokes some sort of emotion. Peter would come home from college with sheet music written for an orchestra, show it to his mother and play some of it on the piano. It was a great lesson for me when Peter explained how to read music and a bigger thrill to watch him play.

If you wondered why his  songs were twice as long as "standard issue" songs, it's no accident. He loved the way classical music had various parts to it ... the different tempos ... the melody transitions ... and if you listen closely to Peter's music, you can hear the inspirations of classical music gods. He enjoyed creating songs that could run into each other, sometimes beginning the song with a thought, and trasitioning to a feeling, then winding it up with a realization. You can hear the story he's telling you.

It's an honored thing when a person can take a thought process and turn it into a song. That's why my family has so much respect and honor to songwriters because they can take a single thought and turn it into an amazing concert.

When we read the comments from you all, we see what an impact Peter Steele has had on your lives, your music, your relationships -- and in some cases, your own deep feeling and creative expressions.


So, back to you all. If you'd like to share a little bit of your song writing skills, please do so. I want this blog to be a place for sharing good vibes, deepest feelings, good news and life situations. Never have any regrets.

PS: I think it stands to mention that while any writings done by the Ratajczyk family on this blog are the property of the Ratajczyks, however, your artwork and your songwriting is of course, of your own rights. Please copywright  your material before you put it up on the web. There are lots of poachers out there.


  1. Thank you so much for this blog. This is so interesting, you are actually writing about something I have been thinking for years.
    I have often wondered if he actually did enjoy listening to classical music, the transitions and the feelings I get from the different works of Peter´s really remind me of the feelings I get from listening to some of the classical composers.
    What composers did he enjoy most and wich one´s of those did he get the most inspiration from (apart from life itself offcourse)?
    I like the fact that you let people send you artwork of different kinds. I myself are not much of a writer, I just end up with word´s describing different emotions and life itself, but can´t seem to find a way to end the poems/lyrics or whatever one might call it. It all just becomes a mess, but at least I try writing. =) People like Peter are amazing, he seemed to find the right words for everything possible to write and sing about. Absolutely wonderful!

  2. What a moving story. It is so true that Peter had this beautiful gift to do what he did, and even my 60 yr old father loves TON especially because of all the changes and whats going on in each song. The rawness, the passion, I certainly can feel it and its awesome. I share Peter, his story, his life and music with whoever I can.
    I have no song writing skills. I wish I did. I started playing the violin about 3 years ago and was doing good, but a major life change put it on hold and now I barely remember twinkle twinkle :) I respect any musicians creativity and talent, even if I dont care for the genre of music or what-have-you.
    PS have you guys heard of a cover band out of Staten island called october rust? Boy that lead singer better be damn good. But no one, NO ONE can replace Peter. Ever.

  3. I think to really be inspired by music you need to listen to a variety of it (music N lyrics); I am no song writer, possible a writer, but not of songs, that's tough N Peter did it with such passion that it touched millions of people, people like Peter don't come around that much N he is so missed. Much love N respect

    Amy Wigle

  4. ONE OF A KIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (-)

  5. Great post and it's very true that every song tells a story as well as pictures etc...etc...Even stories have a story. Thank you for sharing :)



  7. Peter is a huge inspiration for me. I met him once in Allentown, PA in 2009, on the final tour, and it was an awe-inspiring experience. I read these blogs that you post, and like I'm sure many people think, I feel that if my family and yours had been friends or acquaintances we would have gotten along wonderfully. I often wish that I had known Peter more deeply, if nothing else from a musical standing - as a mentor or teacher. I love lengthy compositions, and his song-writing style is so unique, it would've been amazing to have some of that instilled in me not only by inspiration from hearing the songs, but by having discussion with him and actually learning something in person. I'm sorry for rambling but this blog hit home for me as a wannabe musician. When I get the guitar or bass in my hands I can't help but think about how big of an inspiration Peter and Type O and Carnivore are on my tastes in music, and what I want my music to sound like. Ok, enough rambling, have a great day!

  8. Great blog again - thank you so much as this is exactly confirming what I have felt or thought so often when listening to TON. One really feels the passion, hate, pain, love etc. & Pete was so talented with his songwriting - so special. I also love the fact the TON songs are always longer than others, the changes in the music & the chemistry of all together - to me it's magic & I always discover new parts in songs - it's amazing. As stated already people like him are so rare - ONE OF A KIND & missed without end. Music in general is so important to me (different genres) because it has so much to offer & to me just essential. I am glad that I have discovered TON quite early & this music will be always part of my life & I also introduce this special music to as much people as I can but it's also true that it's understood sadly by a chosen few to borrow some of Pete's lyrics ;-)But I have also made other experiences with people they didn't know TON & meanwhile having all their albums ;-) Yes - Peter left so much for which I am just grateful. I also admire songwriters, musicians so much because of the emotions they get across & create. Well - I try to write from time to time about feelings & experiences & things that interest me but I don't think it would be good enough for a song ;-)but at least it's good enough for me to clear my mind ;-) Thank you again for opening up & sharing those memories with us.
    Much love & respect

  9. He was truly gifted in many ways. It would be great to hear what talents all of the sisters and nieces have as well. What are your passions?? I also love it when the fans put their poetry and art on here. It's inspiring and gives a deeper feeling of connection. :)

  10. Firstly I have to say, LOVE that picture of Peter. What a beautiful man! For me the main thing I love about Peter is his lyrics. He wrote song lyrics that covered every emotion and they came from a real place in his heart. Songs of pain like Anesthesia, of love like Love You To Death, very funny and clever like I like Goils then a pissed off song like We Hate Everyone, to sorrow like Everything Dies then to the primal raw lyrics of Carnivore...I could go on but I think you all know what I am talking about. Peters lyrics are honest and true. The really strange thing is, his "sad" songs make me feel better rather than making me feel depressed and his angry songs make me laugh. The lyrics to Be My Druidess.. well better not go there..this is a public blog!! There will never be another who can write song lyrics like Peter. It really is Sonic Therapy and has saved me(us) many times. Thank you Peter, your voice, music and lyrics makes each day worth living.

  11. As we all can agree "pure, raw, and original talent and artistry" I pity all of those who have not found and been inspired by Peter and TON. The depths of what we have learned about this amazing person from this blog is a gift that is priceless. Thank you thank you thank you! Love the picture too!! Peace.

  12. I'm sitting here at work right now listening to my MP3 player and of course it's loaded with TON. My opinion is that this music is sheer genius and that's how I always describe it to someone who has never heard of TON. It's evident that there is classical influence on the songs. Some of my favorites would be All Hallow's Eve, World Coming Down, Love You to Death, and September Sun. I love them all, but these ones really stand out in my mind when it comes to what sounds to me like "composed." Love it love it love it!!

  13. The green-city artwork is amazing and I love this photo of Pete! His kitchen was cool but he's so striking you don't notice it at first glance.
    As a musician I very much hear Pete's classical training in his music, and love it when there's a smooth transition into a new chord pattern or key change or a sharp contrast between bassline and melodies that still keeps the song's overall consistancy intact. Though his music is incredible and will stand the test of time, I'm afraid another musician inspired me to stick with piano lessons, learn music theory and composition and eventually take up electric bass. Though I'd put the two of them in the same league, it was Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones who'd beat him to that punch before Pete likely picked up his first guitar.
    Inspiration can come from anywhere, from walking in a busy city to long grass rustling in the wind to the sounds one hears in one's head during hard physical work. Some of my best work's been written while battling the elements in severe weather. The worst time to try to talk with a musician is when he/she is on the way from one of those experiences to his/her practice-space, anxious to write.
    I've been in a few bands but only one got out of the basement to perform. Posting that work online would be uncomfortable for me for obvious reasons but I miss the feeling of playing and writing with them. Explaining the feeling of having music flow from one's mind into reality, from one's fingers into the air, of crafting sound to make it beautiful, well, that explanation is impossible.
    Thought of Pete a few nights ago while practicing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on my antique piano, fought back the pain of knowing he was gone and continued to play in the candlight. It's a hauntingly beautiful piece ...just couldn't stop playing.

  14. I have enjoyed very much reading this text. I’m not an expert about classical music but I know what I like and Peter’s music is one of the things that I love. From the deep of my heart, thank you very much for sharing your memories.

    There is a green light that never will go out.

    Greetings and hugs from the krypt.


  15. Classical music is one of the greatest forms of music ever made, so far as I'm concerned. I'm so glad to know Peter shared that appreciation, as well. For me, I love many types of music, but classical music holds a special place in my heart.

    My grandmother was a dramatic soprano opera singer who gave up her lucrative and burgeoning career to marry my grandfather in 1939. They met because she was singing at her sister's birthday party, in the Bronx. My grandfather was walking down the street with his brother, and happened to see a crowd of people outside the door to the house...and heard my grandmother singing "Ave Maria" inside. He said to his brother, "That's the woman I'm going to marry." He meant it, and he was right. She sang at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, other places, and was invited to sing professionally in Italy. But, she gave it up. So, in a way, if not for the sacrifice of a musical dream, I would not be here.

    My grandmother taught me to appreciate composers like Verdi and Puccini. She gave me her librettos, and Renata Tebaldi's autograph...she had saved it from when she ran into her backstage at the Met. My grandmother even had a needlepoint of "Butterfly" hanging in the spare bedroom of her apartment, when I was growing up. Operas like Madame Butterfly, Tosca, and La Boheme, remain my favorites. Arias like "Un bel di," "Vissi D'Arte," "Mi Chiamano Mimi," "Addio del Passato" describe for me so well what it is to live...the things we feel. Even a popular song, such as Lakme's "Flower Duet" I find astounding in its grace and beauty.

    My own vocal teacher (I took opera lessons in honor of my grandmother, but never studied serious enough) taught me an appreciation for Bach, and made me practice Panis Angelicus and Bist du Bei Mir until my pronunciation was not completely atrocious. I explored other classical music over the years, and my favorite composers remain to this day Vivaldi, Beethoven, with some songs like Mozart's Requiem thrown in and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. I find Pachelbel's Canon beautiful, as well as Bach's "Air" and other compositions.

    I have written some songs, using Harmony (an old program)...I kind of experimented until things sounded right.

    I admire Peter for knowing how to read/write music, and composing from such a young age. I'm sure we all would have loved to have heard his classic compositions! Reading and writing music...that is something I never mastered, and his mastery of that (even just in an intuitive way, not technical) has contributed so much to this world and all of our lives. A lot of Type O's songs I think of as modern classical music, in a weird type of way, because of the complexity and the way they are orchestrated. When I think of how much must have gone into the October Rust album, it always blows my mind, and makes me smile...how many different layers there are. So much the songs cease to be just a song, they become almost three-dimensional to me. Gorgeous and transcendent. Everything he made! Thank you for sharing that beautifully-written story, and asking us to share, in return.

    ~ L.

  16. Hi girls--

    Thanks for sharing this. It's interesting to read about Peter's songwriting process, even if it's not first-hand. At least now I (we) have an idea of how he went about it. It was not simple, to say the least.
    I've often wondered the same thing--did Peter enjoy Classical music, and what composers inspired him, and what were his favorite pieces?
    The "1812 Overture" has always been a favorite of mine, but I also like Albinoni's "Adagio in G Minor." Beautifully depressing.
    I've also wondered how much was passed on to you girls, and what kinds of talents did you inherit/develop (artistically, musically...).
    Thanks for another enlightening post--
    Love & Gratitude--Patty P

    P.S. Great photo! :)

  17. Growing up as an Italian in NY, my father played lots of classical music for us. He also loved italian operas. I learned to enjoy it as I got older. I truly know the genius behind that music and Peter was a genius. Not only was he handsome but he had a brain and he used it. He didn't compromise, he didn't lie..he was about truth. His music and lyrics were pure heaven. I can listen to TON and I drift away into pure bliss. I'm truly listening to artistic genius. I feel so close to you all now, reading your stories, sharing. Thank you all so much. Keep sharing your memories about Peter keeps him alive for us all.

  18. Hi girls--

    I had to look at this photo again...Is that a standard-size fridge? Because I just noticed that Peter, while sitting down, IS STILL TALLER THAN THE DAMN THING!!!! :)
    Love to all--Patty P

  19. It's ironic that I learnt about Peter's death the same day I discovered TON. I guess it's better for me that way, because I don't know how I would have reacted had I been a TON fan before Peter's death. I've been suffering from chronic bipolar depression and I'm a very emotional person, so I know I would have been devastated. I just hope that Peter's current/next life will be longer and happier than the last one, without alcohol and drugs. I pray for him, and I hope that wherever he is, he's happy.

    I'm not sure if I should post this... I'm not that great with lyrics (I'm a novelist, not a lyricist). However, no matter how silly they are my lyrics are always from the heart. I wrote this last night and it's completely unedited, more like a verse than a song. It was inspired by someone I loved very much and who isn't with us anymore.

    You have a nice set of scars on your chest
    And I have a matching one inside mine
    So come on darling, take off your shirt
    And I'll open up my thorax just for you
    So tell me darling, tell me, can you see them?
    Or are they lost among the blood and flesh and bones?
    So tell me darling, tell me, can you hear them?
    Can you hear them tearing once more just for you?
    So tell me, tell me darling can you feel them?
    Can you feel them as fresh blood drips from them once more?
    So tell me, tell me darling can you heal them?
    Can you heal them or you'll make some new ones next to them?


    Stella A. A.