Death Frontman Chuck Schuldiner Dies

Pioneering death metal vocalist/guitarist loses battle with brain tumor.

Chuck Schuldiner, a pioneering force in death metal and grindcore as the vocalist and guitarist for Death, has died after a lengthy battle with a brain tumor.

The seminal metal figure passed away Thursday at the age of 34.

Schuldiner was diagnosed with pontine giloma, a rare type of brain tumor, in 1999 and struggled to afford treatment (see “Death Metal Godfather Struggles To Fund Lifesaving Surgery” ). The guitarist eventually underwent surgery for the tumor in January of 2000, and appeared to be recovering well in the months following the operation. Earlier this year, however, Schuldiner’s condition worsened as his tumor continued to grow and proved inoperable.

Schuldiner’s plight provided a harsh reminder of the struggle of artists working without health insurance, and the metal community soon rallied around the ailing guitarist. An array of artists including Kid Rock, Korn, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marilyn Manson, Godsmack, Disturbed, Pantera and Slipknot kicked in merchandise for an auction benefiting Schuldiner (see “Korn, Kid Rock, Slipknot Reach Out To Ailing Death Frontman” ). Chimaira also pitched in, soliciting donations for Schuldiner while on the road with Spineshank, and numerous death metal acts around the world organized benefit concerts.

Schuldiner formed Death in his native Florida in 1983 and released the band’s first album, Scream Bloody Gore, on Combat Records in 1987. The group released a total of five albums on that label between 1987 and 1993 before jumping to Roadrunner Records for 1995′s Symbolic. The band’s most recent effort, Sound of Perseverance, was released on Nuclear Blast Records in 1998.

Schuldiner was the lone constant in Death’s rotating lineup, and he surrounded himself with some of the group’s supporting cast when forming the more melodic Control Denied in 1996. That group released one album, 1999′s The Fragile Art of Existence. Soon after the album’s release, Schuldiner’s tumor was discovered.

“Chuck’s music was really important to me growing up,” Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor once said of Schuldiner’s influence. “It was really intricate and interesting.”

A memorial Web site has been produced in honor of Schuldiner (at www.emptywords.org), and fans can post their thoughts in an online book of condolences that will be sent to Schuldiner’s family.

The Charles Schuldiner Medical Fund (established to help the guitarist tackle his medical bills) will continue to accept donations. Fans can contribute at www.hammerheartamerica.com.