Chi Cheng, bassist for the GRAMMY-winning metal band Deftones, died April 13 at age 42. Cheng had been under constant medical care for more than four years after being seriously injured in a car accident in Santa Clara, Calif., in November 2008. He underwent brain surgery and was left in a coma following the incident. Inspired by bands such Faith No More, Rage Against The Machine and Tool, Deftones were formed by guitarist Stephen Carpenter, drummer Abe Cunningham and vocalist Chino Moreno, with Cheng and keyboardist/turntablist Frank Delgado joining later. Deftones earned a dedicated following in the mid-'90s on the strength of albums such as their debut Adrenaline (1995) and Around The Fur (1997). The band's third album, 2000's White Pony, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart hits "Back To School," "Digital Bath" and "Change (In The House Of Flies)." "Elite," another track from White Pony, earned the band their first career GRAMMY for Best Metal Performance. In 2000 Cheng released The Bamboo Parachute, a solo album featuring spoken word poetry. Released in 2003, Deftones earned the band their highest-charting album, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The band subsequently released Saturday Night Wrist (2006) and Diamond Eyes (2010). For the latter album, Cheng was replaced by bassist Sergio Young. While Cheng partially regained consciousness in 2012 and returned home to recover, he was unable to participate on the band's seventh studio album, 2012's Koi No Kan. "The music industry has lost a proud and passionate performer all too soon," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow, "and our sincerest condolences go out to his family, his bandmates, and his fans worldwide who are mourning his untimely and unfortunate passing."
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"When the music's over, turn out the lights," Jim Morrison once sang. If Dec. 21 really is the end of the world, rock and metal fans are going out with a bang.
The year began with the startling news that one of heavy metal's founders, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, had been diagnosed with lymphoma. This was quickly followed by the news that drummer Bill Ward would not be a part of this year's Black Sabbath reunion shows. An unsettling start to the year, to say the least.
March brought several of my favorite 2012 releases, including Black Breath's Sentenced To Life and Meshuggah's Koloss. It was also the month during which several iconic acts were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Guns N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donovan, and the Faces.
In April, we took a mandatory moment of silence as the "Lord of Loud" Jim Marshall, founder of Marshall Amplifiers, passed away.
On June 28 GRAMMY-nominated Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe was arrested in Prague on manslaughter allegations stemming from the death of a fan at a local show three years prior. The band was touring in Europe in support of one of my favorite 2012 releases, Resolution. For the five weeks he was in prison, the rock and metal community came together to raise awareness for this matter. The hash tag #freerandyblythe became a conversation about safety at rock and metal concerts, ultimately getting bands and fans to agree that people enter a pit on an "at your own risk" basis.
My summer sounds in rock and metal were dominated by Gojira's L'Enfant Sauvage and Nachtmystium's Silencing Machine.
Meanwhile, in August Baroness were involved in a terrible bus accident in England that seriously injured several band members. On tour in support of their most recent album, Yellow & Green, frontman John Baizley's letter to fans after the accident had fans reaching for a tissue.
In November Suicide Silence vocalist Mitch Lucker died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. In today's day and age, it's eerie to be able to view an artist's final movements, as his Instagram and Twitter had fans hanging onto his last moments.
My end of 2012 soundtrack heavily featured new albums by Enslaved, (RIITIIR) and Deftones (Koi No Yokan).
Finally, to help close out the year, the "world's greatest rock and roll band," the Rolling Stones, turned 50. Celebrating with several special shows in London and New Jersey, the Stones proved that, doomsdays aside, rock and roll will never die.