Chuck Schuldiner: Lust for Life
He called his band Death, but Chuck Schuldiner loved life, family and of course, metal.
The fate of the final Control Denied recordings has been a matter of contention since Chuck’s death. In March 2003, Jane announced plans to make the unfinished songs available free for download but changed her mind the following month, saying it wouldn’t do “any justice to Chuck’s final music.” More recently, the Schuldiners and Guido Heijnens, owner of the now-defunct Hammerheart Records, to which Control Denied was under contract, entered into a lawsuit, with each side claiming rights to the recordings. Heijnens has previously released some of those tracks, against the family’s wishes, on Zero Tolerance, a two-disc compilation from 2004 that also featured Death demos and live recordings. Says Jane, “The legal battle continues with hope that all with be finalized soon. I can tell you that absolutely Chuck’s last album will be released exactly as he told his sister and I he wanted it to be done. That was Beth’s last promise to Chuck, and she will keep it.”
It’s not putting too fine a point on things to say the fight for Chuck’s music is the fight for his soul. He lived for his music, and he died for it. Clearly, had he chosen a more lucrative occupation or sold out to play a more popular style of music, Chuck might have had the financial means and benefits to beat his disease. But selling out was an unknown concept to him; he was incapable of doing less than following his heart. In his life, Chuck gave not just his music, not just a genre of music, but also an example of how an artist lives his life: without compromise, and on his own terms.
“With regard to death metal, he contributed a standard of musicianship that people are still aspiring to,” says Don Kaye. “He was a pioneer who tried to take the music in an interesting and progressive direction. And in that way, coming along when he did, he crystallized the genre.”
“His music is timeless,” adds Christy. “It still sounds as fresh as it did when it came out. Plus, Chuck’s style on guitar is unmatched: it’s the perfect mix of melody, technicality and brutality. I’m extremely lucky to have been not just part of the band but also a close friend of Chuck’s. He inspired me, and he continues to inspire me, every day.”
He is clearly not alone.
“I still receive so many emails from Chuck’s fans,” says Jane. “I know from them that Chuck is remembered not only as a great musician but as someone who made, and continues to make, a difference in their lives. He inspires them still.”
Not all those fans are adults who grew up with Chuck’s music; many, says Jane, are as young as 11. “Just think: another generation is discovering Chuck’s music. He would be so proud.”
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