December 13th marks the 11 year anniversary of the death of a musical legend. Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner was the singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the band Death, which he founded in 1983, under the name Mantas. He also recorded as guitarist and songwriter with his other band, Control Denied. Schuldiner is often referred to as "The Father of Death Metal", and his obituary in the January 5, 2002 issue of UK's Kerrang! magazine stated that "Chuck Schuldiner was one of the most significant figures in the history of metal." Schuldiner himself was modest about his part in the history of death metal, noting "I don’t think I should take the credits for this death metal stuff. I'm just a guy from a band, and I think Death is a metal band." Schuldiner was ranked No. 10 in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists in 2009 and No. 20 in March 2004 Guitar World's "The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists". Schuldiner founded the publishing company Mutilation Music in 1987, affiliated with performance rights organization BMI.
Schuldiner was originally inspired by Iron Maiden, Kiss and Billy Idol, among others. He was particularly interested in the metal movement known as NWOBHM - New Wave of British Heavy Metal - and cited bands of that genre among his favorites. He frequently cited French band Sortilège as his personal favorite metal group. Slayer, Possessed, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond and Metallica were later influences he would apply more to his own band. Later in his career, Schuldiner frequently cited progressive metal bands such as Watchtower and Queensrÿche as influences. The official Schuldiner website, Empty Words, quotes Schuldiner's mother making the claim that he enjoyed all forms of music except country and rap. He also enjoyed jazz and classical music in addition to metal and British alternative acts such as Lush.
In May 1999, Schuldiner experienced pain in his upper neck, which he initially thought was a pinched nerve. He consulted with a chiropractor followed by a massage therapist/acupuncturist who recommended an MRI Exam. Upon having an MRI, it was discovered that the pinched nerve was being caused by a tumor. On his 32nd birthday, May 13, 1999, Schuldiner was diagnosed with a high-grade pontine glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer that invades the brainstem, and immediately underwent radiation therapy. In October 1999, Schuldiner’s family announced that the tumor had necrotized and that he was on the way to recovery. In January 2000, Schuldiner underwent surgery to remove what remained of his tumor. The operation was a success. However, the Schuldiner family was struggling financially. The total costs of the operations came to $70,000, a price the Schuldiner family could not afford. Many fundraisers, auctions, and benefit concerts took place to help cover the costs. The money began to come in as the metal community, in total shock, realized that Schuldiner's life was in danger. The metal community and the Schuldiner family showed deep concern because Schuldiner could have lost his life due to lack of funds.
Tribute concerts have been coordinated or funded by his mother, family and various Death tribute groups internationally. CKY front man, Deron Miller, who considers Schuldiner an idol of his, got the idea, while working on various projects with former Death guitarist (and pituitary tumor survivor) James Murphy, to do a tribute album. Murphy announced he would release a Chuck Schuldiner tribute album to commemorate his lasting mark on the metal community and Schuldiner's family publicly offered support for Murphy's effort, though it has never materialized. Schuldiner's sister Beth confirmed via her YouTube channel that Death: Live in Japan, a behind the scenes Death video, as well as a potential boxset containing all of Schuldiner's works including some exclusive copies of handwritten notes by Schuldiner are in the works via Relapse Records. Schuldiner Estate lawyer Eric Greif held a charity Chuck Schuldiner Birthday Bash in Calgary, Alberta, May 13, 2011 featuring speeches by Greif and former Death guitarist Paul Masvidal, as well as bands performing Schuldiner's music. Greif repeated this May 12, 2012, with special guest band Massacre, featuring former Death members Rick Rozz and Terry Butler.
The most notable benefit concert was Thrash of the Titans. During this time Testament vocalist Chuck Billy was diagnosed with germ cell seminoma. The concert focused primarily on Bay Area thrash metal, a popular and influential metal scene in the 1980s and early 1990s (of which Testament played a big part), and featured the reunions of then-defunct Bay Area bands Heathen, Death Angel, Vio-lence (minus Rob Flynn, who declined to participate), Forbidden Evil, Legacy (an early version of Testament), and then partially defunct Exodus (with Paul Baloff). As a result of the show, Exodus, Heathen and Death Angel all officially reunited and released new albums. Forbidden would reunite again in 2007 and released a new album three years later.
Also appearing at the concert were Anthrax, along with S.O.D. and Sadus, who are all friends of Chuck Billy's. M.O.D. were also scheduled to appear, but with the show running long, Billy Milano announced that M.O.D. would play a show in Oakland the next week, and that tickets to the Thrash of the Titans would be honored. Chuck Billy would make a full recovery and continue to perform with Testament.
A legal battle began from the time of Schuldiner's death on the settlement of the rights to the partially completed second Control Denied album, When Man and Machine Collide. Demos of these unreleased Control Denied songs, as well as early Death demos and live Death recordings from 1990, were released in the Zero Tolerance two-part compilation bootlegs by the Dutch Hammerheart Holdings company and the Schuldiners and Greif asserted rights on behalf of Schuldiner's Estate. The matter was settled in November 2009, anticipating the project being finished and released in 2010.
Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner (May 13, 1967 – December 13, 2001)
- 1987: Scream Bloody Gore
- 1988: Leprosy
- 1990: Spiritual Healing
- 1991: Human
- 1993: Individual Thought Patterns
- 1995: Symbolic
- 1998: The Sound of Perseverance
- Control Denied
- 1999: The Fragile Art of Existence
- 2012: When Man and Machine Collide (Schuldiner's parts recorded in 2000-2001)
- With Voodoocult
- 1994: Killer Patrol (Single)
- 1994: Metallized Kids (Single)
- 1994: Jesus Killing Machine (Full-length Album)
Title: Lack of Comprehension
Title: The Philosopher
Album: Individual Thought Patterns