Pelle Ohlin (Born: Per Yngve Ohlin) (1969 - 1991) better know by his stage name Dead was a Swedish black metal vocalist best known for being the lead singer of the Norwegian black band Mayhem from 1988 until his death by suicide in 1991; something which was notoriously immortalised on the album cover for the live album The Dawn of the Black Hearts which featured a photograph of his corpse taken after Mayhem guitarist Euronymous found his body. He is often considered to be the band's most iconic vocalist despite not playing on any studio albums; only live and demo releases.
In addition to Mayhem he was also the original vocalist for Swedish death metal band Morbid from 1985 until 1988.
Pelle Ohlin was born in Vasterhaninge, Sweden to Anita Forsberg and an unknown father. He had two siblings Anders and Anna Ohlin. When his parents divorced, he was tossed around the family until he lived with his mother and brother.
Due to this, he had to change schools a lot and one day, he was brutally bullied by kids at school and when he returned home, he collapsed and was taken to the hospital where he died from internal bleeding but was brought back to life by the doctors.
Pelle was haunted by thoughts of the after life and started to suffer from sleep apnea where he would dream he was being choked to death although he was actually suffocating. It was also during this time that he started to get into metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Kiss, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Motörhead, Venom, Sodom and Mercyful Fate as his favorite.
Morbid was formed in Stockholm, Sweden, at the end of 1985. With Pelle as the group's founder and mastermind, they had a revolving door of members before settling on the line-up of John "John Lennart" Hagström and "TG" on guitars, Jens Näsström on bass and Lars Göran Petrov on drums. When "TG" left the band, Ulf Cederlund took over. The band then recorded their debut demo, December Moon, at Thunderload Studios in Stockholm on 5 and 6 December 1987. A live album titled "Live In Stockholm" was released. Pelle was also featured on their self titled demo and another album titled "Live From The Past". Feeling as if the band wasn't going anywhere, Pelle disbanded Morbid and sent the demo tape to the band Mayhem hoping to be their front-man as they needed one.
Necrobutcher the bass player recieved the letter with the tape which had Pelle's address. The band met up and Pelle became the lead singer. After seeing that everyone in the band had stage names, Jørn Stubberud (Necrobutcher), Øystein Aerseth (Euronymous) and Jan Axel Blomberg (Hellhammer), Pelle decided to take the stage name Dead.
The band moved into Dead's house in Oslo near Krakstad, Norway. They all came to realize how strange Dead was as neither of them could carry a conversation with him as he would rarely speak at all. But when he did speak, he would talk about his obsession with death. He also hated cats and wanted to kill the stray ones that would come near the house but would fail to kill them with a home made spear as they would get away.
Dead started to collect dead birds under his bed and start cutting himself near friends. Dead and the band would record demo tapes and send them to fans worldwide and also to record stores. Dead became friends with other black metal musicians such as Metalion and Tompa. At a New Years Eve party, they went into Metalions parents bedroom and started to slice their arms with knives. They had to throw away everything with blood on it. They ran around at night and Dead would be cutting himself badly. Metalion and Euronymous tackled him down and handcuffed him to a light post until he calmed down. When he did, they had to go to the police station so they can get someone to cut the handcuffs to get Dead free from the light post.
The band played their first show with Dead as their singer on February 3rd, 1990 at Fulkets Hus in Jessheim, Norway. During the show, Dead slashed his arms and bled all over the audience while also throwing pig heads and rotten meat into the crowd. Right before they played their signature song Freezing Moon, Dead went to the restroom to put electric tape around his arms to stop the bleeding.
The stage antics started to become a regular Mayhem stage ritual as Dead repeated them at an unknown venue is Saprsborg, Norway when they played at a fund-raiser for the printing of Slayer Mag's fifth issue. The band went into the studio to record the Freezing Moon single which also featured Carnage.
The band embarked on a tour through Norway and Germany, one of them being the famous Live In Eiskeller Club in Leipzig, Germany. On the last show of the tour in Izmir, Turkey, the power was cut off by the police right as they were in the middle of the set and the band was so angered, they cussed out the audience. Necrobutcher was arrested and Euronymous had to bail him out. On the return ride home, someone stole Dead's wallet and he kept getting nose-bleeds.
In the final months of 1990, Dead and Euronymous started to fight constantly as they no longer got along. By 1991, Dead, Euronymous and Hellhammer were living in a house in the woods near Kråkstad, which was used as a place for the band to rehearse. According to Hellhammer, Dead spent much of his time writing letters and drawing. He "just sat in his room and became more and more depressed". Mayhem bassist Necrobutcher said that, after living together for a while, Dead and Euronymous "got on each other's nerves a lot". Hellhammer recalls that Dead once went outside to sleep in the woods because Euronymous was playing synth music that Dead hated. Euronymous then went outside and began shooting into the air with his shotgun.
On April 8th, 1991, Pelle "Dead" Ohlin wrote a suicide note then slit his wrist and throat then shot himself in the fore-head with Euronymous' shotgun while everyone else was away. When Euronymous returned home, he found Pelle's body in his bedroom, and instead of calling the police, he took pictures of the body and kept them in his record company. He also allegedly took bits and pieces of the skull to make multiple necklaces out of them, and then finally called the police. Necrobutcher after being disgusted by Euronymous's actions left the band and was replaced by Varg Vikernes who later murdered Euronymous. The 1993 Mayhem album "Live in Leipzig' is dedicated to Ohlin.
In 1995 Warmaster Records released a live bootleg album of a Mayhem show with Dead on vocals titled "The Dawn of the Black Hearts" and controversially one of Pelle's suicide photos was used as the cover as the label's owner Mauricio Montoya was sent a copy of one of the photos. The photo used on the cover is believed to be the only surviving photograph of Ohlin's suicide as Euronymous's father destroyed the rest after finding them in his son's apartment after his death.