Per Yngve Ohlin (16 January 1969 – 8 April 1991), better known by his stage name Dead, was a Swedish black/death metal vocalist and lyricist best known for his work with Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. He also performed as vocalist of the Swedish death metal band Morbid on their demo December Moon.
Roadrunner Records ranked him No. 48 out of 50 of The Greatest Metal Front-Men of All Time.
Per Ohlin (sometimes called "Pelle") was born in 1969 in Stockholm, Sweden. As a young child, he suffered from sleep apnea. At the age of ten, he suffered internal bleeding when his spleen ruptured, after what he alleged was an ice skating accident. In the Swedish metal book Blod eld död however ('Blood Fire Death', named after Swedish band Bathory's fourth album Blood Fire Death), his brother said in an exclusive interview that Dead was bullied in school and one day the beatings got out of hand causing the ruptured spleen.He had to be rushed to a hospital, where he was for a time clinically dead.
He later developed his taste for heavy music, citing bands like Black Sabbath, Kiss, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Motörhead, Venom, and Mercyful Fate as his favourite.
n early 1986, he founded the Swedish death metal group Morbid, with which he recorded a demo tape called December Moon. Shortly afterwards, he decided the band wasn't going anywhere and contacted the members of Mayhem. According to Mayhem bassist Jørn 'Necrobutcher' Stubberud, he initially sent them a small package containing a demo tape, a letter, and a crucified mouse. Although Necrobutcher lost the package itself, he kept the tape which had Dead's contact details. Dead moved to Norway and joined the band in early 1988.
In time, Dead's social situation and his fascination with death caused his mental state to worsen greatly. He would try to cut himself while with his friends, who would have to subdue him and patch him up.Although this upset many of his friends, Euronymous became fascinated with Dead's suicidal tendencies—seemingly because it fit Mayhem's image—and according to them, he encouraged Dead to kill himself. Manheim said: "I don't know if Øystein did it out of pure evil or if he was just fooling around."
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 a shotgun. Varg Vikernes of Burzum claims that Dead once stabbed Euronymous with a knife. He also claims to have sent Mayhem ammunition, including shotgun shells, as a Christmas gift, including the shells Dead used for his suicide.
On 8 April 1991, while left alone in the house, Dead slit his wrists and throat with a knife and then shot himself in the forehead with a shotgun. He left a brief suicide note, which apologized for firing a gun indoors and began: "Excuse the blood".
The body was found by Euronymous, who had to climb through an open window as the doors were locked and there were no other keys to the house. Before calling the police, he allegedly went to a shop and bought a disposable camera with which he photographed the body, after re-arranging some items. In time, rumors spread that Euronymous had made a stew with bits of Dead's brain and had made necklaces with bits of his skull. The band later denied the former rumor, but confirmed that the latter was true. Moreover, Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy, which was confirmed by several other members of the scene, like Bård 'Faust' Eithun,Metalion, and Morgan Håkansson.
Euronymous used Dead's suicide to foster Mayhem's 'evil' image and claimed Dead had killed himself because death metal had become 'trendy' and commercialized. Necrobutcher speculated that taking the pictures and forcing others to see them was a way for Euronymous to cope with the shock of seeing his friend's body. After Hellhammer developed the photos, Euronymous initially promised to destroy the pictures, but ultimately did not. He kept them in an envelope at his record shop Helvete. Euronymous allegedly sent one of the pictures to the owner of Warmaster Records in Colombiaand it was used as the cover of the bootleg live album Dawn of the Black Hearts, which was released in 1995.
The suicide caused a rift between Euronymous and some of his friends, who were disgusted by his attitude towards Dead before the suicide, and his behavior afterwards. Necrobutcher ended his friendship with Euronymous.Manheim later speculated that Euronymous had wilfully left Dead alone in the house so that he would have a chance to kill himself. Dead's suicide was said to cause "a change in mentality" in the black metal scene and was the first in a string of infamous events carried out by its members.
An obituary in a Swedish newspaper stated that Dead's funeral was held at Österhaninge kyrka (Eastern Haninge Church) on Friday 26 April 1991. He was buried at Österhaninge begravningsplats (Eastern Haninge graveyard) in Stockholm. Euronymous was stabbed to death by Varg Vikernes two years later, in August 1993.