Did you ever meet Chuck in real life? If so, what was he like? If you never got an opportunity to meet him in person, what would you have said to him?
Eric Greif (former manager of DEATH and president of Perseverance Holdings Ltd, managing the legacy of DEATH and CONTROL DENIED): I was Chuck’s manager but more than that, I was his friend. His family are my family. Chuck & I had an up & down relationship, similar to brawling brothers. Chuck was mostly mellow but on rare occasions he had the temper of a lion, and everyone who knew Chuck is aware of this. Chuck was a regular guy who loved making jokes, eating chicken wings and buying LPs, but underneath everything, he was a musical genius. As lawyer for Chuck’s legacy, I am surrounded by reminders of him, and that makes me miss him a lot. I wish he’d just walk in the door and say “Hey Eric, let’s go for wings”.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY, ex-DEATH): Yes, I actually ended up joining Death when Chuck was living out here in California. I had just turned 17 and was afraid I was going to be too young, but it turned out Chuck was only 19 so it wasn’t a problem at all. Ha-ha! Chuck was really laid back, mellow, but on a serious mission to create the heaviest Death Metal possible. We hit it off right away and I secured my position in the band the day we met. We had lots of great times making kick ass music and just being friends as well.
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): All I could think of is the truth of how I met Chuck and how he used to tell me that, ‘I made him what he is today’. I know it sounds like I am being big-headed or bragging but that is not my intention. So hopefully it won’t come off that way. He was like a little brother to me (a huge fan in a Possessed t-shirt that really looked up to me) and I was his mentor. But the thing is is that after he continually named me in magazines as his ‘main influence’ the meaner rag-mags started calling Chuck a ‘Jeff clone’ and Death a ‘Possessed Clone’ so after a while Chuck distanced himself from me and Possessed and claimed that he, ‘doesn’t even play “Death Metal” but “Progressive Metal” and that he never was a Death Metal band. Weird how some fucking stupid-ass magazines make a person being ‘inspired’ by another into a very bad thing. And of course we know that even though Chuck was ‘inspired’ by me and by Possessed; in fact; Death sounded very-much like their very own entity. Chuck was a great guy and I just know he is raging up in heaven playing for the real angels now.
Terry Butler (ex-DEATH, ex-MASSACRE, OBITUARY): Well – yes, we meet that night. It was 4 years later that I joined Death soon after SCREAM BLOODY GORE was released. I had a great relationship with Chuck. We had a lot in common. We both loved shopping for records and loved the same music.
John McEntee (INCANTATION, FUNERUS): Yes, I met Chuck a few times early on but only quite briefly. I was a roadie with my friend Chris (from the Clifton band Deranged) for the man Whiplash. They were doing a show with Death over at a club in Long Island called the Sundance. Death totally crushed that night it was awesomely here all the old songs played live and with a strong lineup. I did introduce myself the Chuck and the other guys in the band but honestly they seemed uninterested in talking to me. I did not take it personally I was just happy to get the opportunity to say ‘hi’. I met them at numerous other times throughout the years including on the “Leprosy” tour and we played with them at the Roxy in Long Island New York for the “Individual Thought Patterns” tour. Chuck along with the rest of the band all seem really cool but once again Chuck was not very interested in talking or hanging out. The final time we played with Death was for the Chilean “Death Fest”. That was for the “Sounds of Perseverance” tour. Actually once we played the show is more anxious to hang out with my friend Richard that was playing drums for them at the time just because he was a longtime friend. But come to my surprise Chuck was extremely friendly, talkative. Now we all hung out the route the weekend just drinking talking and having a good time. For me it was a great way to remember Chuck especially because not too long after that is when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Kelly Shaefer (ATHEIST): My experience of Chuck was probably far different than most accounts that people will recall. I had of course been familiar with him as we were all a part of the Florida Death Metal scene. Before it was actually a legit ‘scene’ I learned a lot more about Chuck, and have a better understanding of the way he was now, then I did back then. We were all fighting for a deal, and trying to take each of our bands as far as we could of course, and Chuck had been at the very ground floor of the whole thing in terms of brutality, and just the extreme testicular fortitude he had to call his fucking Death in 1983/4. He was so very passionate about this music, and where it was going… and along came Atheist, incorporating Jazz into this music he loved so much, he did not like all the time changes, and oddities. At first listen, I don’t think he understood that we were coming from a Rush sort of prog, as opposed to say Coltrain – or Chick Corea, and he made an effort to let it to be known to whomever would listen – and that made it very difficult for us in the early days, because he was king of this emerging scene in Florida at that time. It wasn’t until he played with my good friends in Cynic, that he realized that for this music to truly survive, and have a history all on it’s own. It needed to progress, and the musicianship needed to be more technical, but without losing the aggressive nature of it. We had many wars of words in publications like Metal Hammer, and Kerrang, and me being hot headed – and he being stubborn, made it just unreadable and immature of us both. But the great part of this story is that, we both found that our differences in opinions, eventually led to a better understanding of each other, and I am proud to say that I felt like we squashed it as I went to Morrisound studios to see Paul and Sean while they were recording HUMAN and we sat and smoked a joint together and had a chance to explain ourselves differently, and I came away feeling so much better about it. Death from that point became so much more interesting after Chuck let his guard down and experimented. He then surrounded himself with some of the best musicians to ever play Metal. He was a brilliant guitar player and writer, and had a very distinctive voice. He would be very proud of all of the younger bands of today, pushing the musical boundaries as they have. And he himself would most certainly be at the top of the game today if he was with us.
Bob Bagchus (ASPHYX): No, I never met him, but I saw Death here in Holland in 1988 when they first came over here. But I don’t quite know what I would have said to him really… Probably just “Hey, your BACK FROM THE DEAD reh / demo is brilliant, the MUTILATION demo is brutal – and SCREAM BLOODY GORE is one of my fave Death Metal albums, but what the hell happened with LEPROSY? It’s far too clean sounding in my opinion!”. But it still has good songs on it though.
Harry Conklin (SATAN’S HOST, ex-JAG PANZER, ex-RIOT): I met Chuck in Boulder around the THANE TO THE THRONE album. I was introduced to Chuck by my then band mate Rikard Stjernquist. I really never knew of Death before that night ‘cause I did not get into that type of singing. I found out through walking the streets of Boulder that I was a BIG influence on Chuck and he really liked my singing. I was blown away that someone like him would be changed and driven by me. Chuck was a very funny and happy individual with a darkness about him. He was an old soul and someone I can call a GREAT friend. I morn his passing. He has left a lasting footprint in my heart.
Brian Werking (EXMORTIS): Man, this is a hard one because I wanted so much to sit down and talk with him on a one on one basis but it never happened. About as close as we ever got together was walking through a crowd of people and shaking hands while on the move going other directions. I was surprised that he even knew who I was. I could only think it was because of the band Exmortis and the photos in the fanzines from that time. At that point in time I had still not realized the impact Exmortis had on the general crowd. I was a kid that only knew Chuck as the kind of person I wanted to be. An idol of sorts you might say. He was a man that believed in what he was doing in life and had a mission to fulfill it.
Dave Rotten (AVULSED, XTREEM MUSIC): No, never had a chance for that – and well, I would have liked to meet him in ‘87/’88 before he started to change his musical view towards the technical side of music instead of the true Death Metal feeling. I totally hated INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS and it still remains as my less interesting Death album.
Patrick Evil (SATAN’S HOST): I met Chuck a few times. The first time I met him he was playing in Boulder Colorado at the Fox Theatre. I wanted to get his autograph. So I waited in line when I met him I told him I played in Satan’s Host and he broke out his red vinyl METAL FROM HELL album and said he wanted my autograph and that blew my mind. After that we became friends and kept in contact for many years. He was a great person and big fan of Metal. We traded a bunch of tapes between us.
Mem von Stein (EXUMER, SUN DESCENDS): Never met Chuck…
Michael Dorrian (ANATOMY OF I): I’ve got the chance to meet Chuck quite a few times on the “Symbolic” and “The Sound of Perseverance” tours. As I was friends with Steve, he was cool to me, inviting me for drinks on several occasions. There’s not much more I can say besides the fact that he was courteous, calm, down to earth and professional.
Frank Van Kwartel (SARGON): Unfortunately, I never got to meet Chuck in real life; however, if I had gotten the chance to meet him, I would’ve probably asked him about his struggle putting together Death, how he overcame all the obstacles he had, and how he managed to keep himself so focused in the face of so many adversities. Chuck was truly a fighter; prove of that is how he never gave up even to the last moment. He kept looking for different doctors/treatments, and he didn’t stop composing and recording for the second Control Denied album. I would’ve also talked to him about music, guitars, and probably bonded with him on our love for Kiss, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. I do feel fortunate that my band’s (Sargon) current bass player (Kelly Conlon) is a living/breathing ex-member of Death. He has nothing but the nicest things to say about his experience in Death, and he played in one of my favorite Metal record’s of all time (SYMBOLIC).
Ted Ringo (THE CRYPT RECORDS): I never did meet him unfortunately, but had I, I would have told him how amazing he was and how groundbreaking Death was, having been one of the forefathers of Death Metal as we know it.
Laurent Ramadier (SNAKEPIT MAGAZINE): Yeah, I got to meet Chuck back in October 1993. I never cared much for Death shows before this date so when they finally hit Europe for the first time back in early 1989 (the LEPROSY era); I didn’t check them on this short/semi-aborted tour… But INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS was (and still is) such a great and incredibly superior record because of the line-up assembled to record it that I wanted to see how the material sounded in a live situation… and how Death acted in a live situation considering they were very boring on a stage prior to this… lack of stage presence, amazingly boring drumming performance, etc. So I went to Belgium first and got to see the phenomenal line-up Chuck had put together for the European tour, Hoglan, Schuldiner, DiGiorgio and Locicero! Now let’s try to find a BETTER line-up than this! I got to talk to Chuck after the show a little bit but not that much… he was cool and receptive though. BUT I decided to see ’em again in Paris a couple weeks later because their show had been just fuckin’ killer in Belgium – and I thought it would be cool doing an interview with him as I was helping a small French ‘zine at the time. I went and did manage to get a press pass to do the interview. Unfortunately it was the sort of interview where you get all interviewers in the same room, asking one by one a couple of questions to Chuck… nothing interesting but that’s all we could get. Still after the ‘interview’ was done, I was able to get the whole band going outside of the venue and take some pictures with me, exchanging a few words with Chuck… not a great deal but it was better than nothing. I wish I could have talked to him more exchanging about our musical tastes which were very very similar as we both love(d) the European Metal scene from the early ’80s, etc.
Laurent Merle (LISTENABLE RECORDS): I’ve done a few interviews for my old zine Peardrop and met him a few times as a fan, but never had an in-depth conversation with him. I remember him being a very laid back guy, very down to earth and cool. Very humble yet focused. I remember having travelled many hours by train to see a show in the north of France, and sleeping in a telephone booth waiting for my train next morning in an outside temperature of 4 degrees. I was so happy to see that show, there was no way I could miss Death live. I think it was their first European tour.
Mark Jansen (EPICA, MAYAN): I have never met him, unfortunately. I know he lived in a very healthy way, so I would ask him about that and how he stayed in shape during tours.
Luis Lara (DIOSDEIRA): The first and only time when I met Chuck in person was during the “Spiritual Healing” tour. Death played in El Paso, TX – and I got my ticket autographed by him, shook hands with him. He was a very down to earth guy, and very calm in contrast of the one he was on stage. It was an awesome show, leaving me more than impressed by it.
Mike IX Williams (EYEHATEGOD, ARSON ANTHEM): I talked to him on the phone probably barely, negative two seconds one time on these multi-person phone calls that I think maybe Katon from Hirax used to organize. People that were on that party line were folks like Chuck, Vadim from Brain Damage fanzine, Katon of course, some guys from Possessed, possibly a dude from Medieval, maybe the kids from NYC Mayhem and various crossover Thrash / Punk scene humans etc… I did meet him many, many years later in the 90’s in NYC but it was just a “Hey” type thing at a show… no real conversation to speak of, but a very nice dude from what I saw.
Pest (GORGOROTH): Saw them live on the “Human” tour, but I never met him. Had I met him back them I would have asked him why they did not play more songs (at the show) from the first two albums.
Mike Browning (ex-MORBID ANGEL, ex-NOCTURNUS, AFTER DEATH): Yes of course I have met Chuck several times, he was always very cool and friendly to me and we always got along great and talked about doing some kind of a project together, but unfortunately it never happened. There is actually a video on YouTube of me hanging out in the studio with Chuck when they were mixing the HUMAN album, it’s some pretty funny footage!
Esa Lindén (DEMIGOD): No, I never had a chance to meet him. I would have told him how important his music was for me as a musician and how I took my first steps of Death Metal riffs along with his material. It was obvious Chuck’s style also left marks in my songwriting and guitar playing.
Toni Weidlich (CRYSTALIC): Unfotunately I didn’t. It was my really big dream that someday I could have met him, or at least see Death live on stage. If I had seen him, I would have probably told him how much he had influenced me as being a musician and composing music – and how he motivated me to do music as well. And lastly I would have thanked him for creating the best and most interesting music on the planet Earth.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT, BRUTAL TRUTH): I met Chuck many times in real life as you would expect, and he was a really cool guy. Death and Nuclear Assault were both on Combat, so we moved in the same circles, maybe playing the same Milwaukee Metalfest for example. Every time we ran into each other we would hang out, burn a little weed and talk shop.
Daniel Rego (DEMONIC RESURRECTION): I never had the fortune of meeting Chuck, but if I did, I’d tell him how he was one of my gateways to extreme Metal, and how HUMAN is probably my favourite Death Metal album ever.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE, PHLEGETHON): No, I never met Chuck. If I had I would have shaken his hand and thanked him for SCREAM BLOODY GORE and LEPROSY I guess. Or maybe not… I mean basically it´s the same as if l said “Death used to be cool!”, you know.
Jed Simon (TENET, ZIMMERS HOLE, ex-SYL): You know I never met him, and that is sad. Gene talked about Chuck a lot, and I thought we would be crossing paths for sure, but it sadly never happened. I’m sure we could have talked for hours. I would simply liked to have talked about classic Metal and Rock, which from Gene, I know he loved. It’s what made me the guitarist that I am, and it would have been cool to see what it was that moved him!!
Marko Tarvonen (MOONSORROW, BARREN EARTH): No I never meet him. I only saw them live once in Helsinki and that was during the “Human” tour in ´92. Maybe I would have been too shy to say anything to him if I ever had a chance to meet him.
Tuomas Karhunen (FORGOTTEN HORROR, DEATHCHAIN): No, I never met him. Haven’t thought of what I would’ve said to him, now I’d probably thank him for being a source of motivation and inspiration.
Steve Rice (KILL RITUAL, ex-IMAGIKA): Nope never met him. I probably would have asked him if wanted a beer because I’m sure there would have been a bar in close proximity, ha!