Thursday, February 23, 2012

The #78 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Chuck Schuldiner

It's a theme heard all too often in rock music and the story of several of the guitarists in this range.  They never got to realize their full potential because they died much too early.  The guitarist at #78 suffered the same fate:
#78:  Shuck Schuldiner, Death
(some of his best solos)
18 years as an active guitarist

Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner was born May 13, 1967 in Long Island, New York. Schuldiner is often referred to as "The Father of Death Metal".  He was the singer, songwriter and lead guitarist of the band Death, which he founded in 1983 and also recorded with his other band, Control Denied.
Schuldiner began playing guitar at age 9.  His 16 year-old brother had died and his parents bought him a guitar, thinking it would help him with his grief.  He took classical lessons for a year when his parents bought an electric guitar for him at a yard sale.  Schuldiner immediately took to it.  After getting amplifiers, he never stopped playing after that, writing and teaching himself.  

Chuck was originally inspired by Kiss, Billy Idol and Iron Maiden.  He frequently cited French band Sortilege as his personal favorite metal group.  Metallica, Queensryche, Slayer and Possessed were other influences later in his career.  Schuldiner also particularly enjoyed jazz and classical music in addition to metal and alternative music.

Schuldiner formed the group Mantas in 1983 when he was 16 years old with guitarist Rick Rozz and Kam Lee on drums and vocals.  In January, 1986, Schuldiner moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and temporarily joined the band Slaughter.  However, he returned to Mantas, which became known as Death.
Death underwent numerous lineup changes, however with Chris Reifert the group released their debut album Scream Bloody Gore in 1987.  Death then released Leprosy in 1988 and Spiritual Healing in 1990.

After Spiritual Healing, Schuldiner stopped working with full-time band members and instead worked only with studio and live musicians because of bad relationships with Death's previous rhythm section and guitarists.  

Death's breakthrough album, Human, saw the band evolve to a more technical and progressive style of music.  Schuldiner had honed his guitar skills and they were prominently featured.  The albums Individual Thought Patterns in 1993, Symbolic in 1995 and The Sound of Perseverance in 1998 were all successful.

But in May of 1999, Schuldiner went to a chripractor because of pain in his upper neck. It was recommended that he get an MRI Exam, which found that the pinched nerve was being caused by a tumor. On his 32nd birthday, May 13, 1999, Schuldiner was diagnosed with a high-gread pontine glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer.

After this bad news, Schuldiner broke up Death and continued with a group he had begun called Control Denied. Dave Grohl, Ozzy Osbourne and Anthrax worked to raise funds for Chuck's medical bills.  He underwent surgery to remove his tumor.  Doctors thought it was a success but they were wrong.  Not only this, but Schuldiner now had medical bills of $70,000, something the family could not afford.  Nearly the entire heavy metal community had benefit concerts and fundraisers to help.
In May of 2001, Schuldiner received news that indeed the cancer was not gone.  He had gotten medical insurance after his first surgery, but the insurer had refused to pay because the tumor existed before he had purchased the insurance.  I know this is hard to believe for readers around the world, but America did not have a universal health care plan until 2010.

More members of the music world, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Korn, auctioned off personal items to assist.  Schuldiner's quality of life became much worse because he elected to undergo chemotherapy.  In November, Schuldiner became sick with pneumonia.  On December 13, Schuldiner died.

Tribute concerts were held and former Death guitarist James Murphy organized a project to record an album to commemorated Schuldiner's lasting mark on the metal community.  

Schuldiner played the B.C. Rich Stealth guitar for most of his career.  The guitar was released to the public in 2008 as the Chuck Schuldiner Tribute Stealth.  Before that, Chuck played a B.C. Rich Mockingbird and always played with a DiMarzio X2N pickup.  Towards the end of his career, he used a Marshall Valvestate 8100 amp head and Valvestate 4x12 speaker cabinets.  Before that, Schuldiner used Randall RG100 ES heads and Randall cabinets.

Schuldiner was ranked #10 in Joel McIver's book of The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists in 2009 While he played, he played with great speed and technique and was almost a perfectionist with the way he approached his craft. Chuck Schuldiner comes in at #78.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.