The music world has lost another great musician over the weekend. Former Deftones bassist, Chi Cheng, passed away at the tender age of 42. As many might recall, Cheng was seriously injured in a car accident in 2008, and while he’d been in a semi-conscious state then since, he had been starting to show signs of improvement over the last couple of years. Sadly, he lost this fight around 3 a.m. early Saturday morning (April 13th).
Cheng was taken to the emergency room the morning before, and while he was being treated, his heart simply stopped. On OneLoveForChi.com, his mother had this to say:
Our dearest Family,
This is the hardest thing to write to you. Your love and heart and devotion to Chi was unconditional and amazing.
I know that you will always remember him as a giant of a man on stage with a heart for every one of you.
He was taken to the emergency room and at 3 a.m. today his heart just suddenly stopped. He left this world with me singing songs he liked in his ear.
He fought the good fight.You stood by him sending love daily. He knew that he was very loved and never alone.
I will write more later. I will be going through the oneloveforchi site and any other information may not be reliable. If you have any stories or messages to share please send them to the onelove site. Please hold Mae and Ming and the siblings and especially Chi’s son, Gabriel in your prayers. It is so hard to let go.
With great love and “Much Respect!” Mom J (and Chi)
Musically, Cheng was a very passionate, influential musician with a style that made you take notice on stage. This also reflected an uncanny ability to lay down subtle, yet distinctive notes perhaps best heard on ‘Change (In The House Of Flies)’. Behind the scenes, Cheng was a practicing Buddhist, and maintained an interest in Taoism and Shamanism. He often signed off letters with “The Violently Pacifistic Buddhist Thug.” Cheng was a very impassioned man, dedicating a lot of free time and finances to causes such as PETA and WEAVE. Cheng, along with his band mates, also sponsored a community service group based out of the band’s hometown of Sacramento, California. The group aids homeless citizens in developing their musical talents, among other things. The band asked media outlets desiring concert access for five dollar donations to the Chi Ling Cheng Special Needs Trust at a show this past fall at the Fillmore, showing that Cheng remained at the forefront of his band mates’ minds.
Prior to accompanying the band in ’98, Cheng had begun studying literature at Sacramento State College when he answered an ad Chino Moreno and his band mates had posted looking to acquire a bass player. He would then go on to play bass with the band on five Deftones albums, beginning with Adrenaline, the outfit’s 1995 debut, and culminating with Saturday Night Wrist in 2006.
The news of his passing is being mourned worldwide by friends, family and the metal community as a whole. Everyone has taken to social media upon hearing the news, myself included. On twitter, #RIPCHICHENG was trending worldwide. An impromptu candlelight vigil also took place Sunday night (April 14th) at Cesar Chavez Park in Sacremento, California.
On a personal note, I’m deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Chi, he was genuinely influential in my early years of music. In fact, it was their music and his style that made me pick up a bass almost 17 years ago. And how fitting it was that the very first song I ever learned to play on that Ibanez 4-string was ‘My Own Summer’ by the Deftones. I know he went through a lot of hardships after his accident, so I truly hope he’s in a better place now. The music world has lost a great musician today. Chi, I thank you for inspiring me to play. Rest easy, brother.