A car crash in 2008 had forced Chi Cheng, the bassist from alternative metal veterans the Deftones, into a coma for the past five years. On April 13, 2013, his heart finally gave out. His fans, bandmates, and his family have all expressed a sadness over a great loss in the music world. His mother said this to his fans on his passing, “I know that you will always remember him as a giant of a man on stage with a heart for every one of you.”
Cheng had served as the band’s bass player from 1995’s Adrenaline to 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist. His playing can be heard on some of the band’s most famous tunes, such as “Change (in the House of Flies),” “Minerva,” and “Hole in the Earth.” In addition to being a respected bassist, Cheng was a poet. The year 2006 also brought out The Bamboo Parachute, a collection of spoken word poetry by Cheng, available on CD format. Perhaps he will best be remembered for his performance and songwriting contributions on the Deftones’s 2000 album White Pony, which remains the band’s most highly-acclaimed album to date.
The Deftones were founded in 1988 and they are no strangers to the music scene. Often credited for helping to pioneer the genre of nu-metal, alongside acts like Korn, Staind, and Coal Chamber, the Deftones drew influences from a variety of musicians. The band is best known for creating ethereal synthesizer textures, reminiscent of shoegaze groups like My Bloody Valentine, and layering them with the thick churn of distorted seven and eight string guitars. As the band’s career progressed, they garnered critical acclaim for songwriting and musicianship. The group has released several successful singles that have earned airtime on radio, such as “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Hole in the Earth.” The band’s career was looking best in the year 2000, which brought the group a Grammy award for their single “Elite” from the band’s highly-acclaimed and experimental White Pony. Critics praised the record for singer Chino Moreno’s vocal talents, as well as the band’s experimentation with layers, dissonance, and polyrhythms, oftentimes utilizing special effects with guitars and synthesizers to produce lush, dream-like sounds.
After achieving status as innovators in the music industry with their Grammy win, a myriad of tours, late night show appearances, and albums ensued, further cementing the band’s legacy. The group’s path hit an uncertainty in 2008 when Chi Cheng got into the car accident that finally claimed his life this year. Currently, former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega has taken Cheng’s place on electric bass and backing vocals for the Deftones. The band will continue on, but its members will not forget the impact Chi Cheng had on their careers and their lives, helping to craft the sound that created a legend in the music industry.
Jeffrey Holmes is a first-year student majoring in Secondary Education for English. He can be reached at JH791223@wcupa.edu.