Chuck Schuldiner, born as Charles Michael Schulinder (May 13, 1967 – December 13, 2001), was a singer, songwriter, guitarist and founder of the band Death.
He was born on Long Island, New York to Mal, a Jew of Austrian origin, and Jane, who converted to Judaism. His parents were both teachers who moved to Florida in 1968. Chuck started to play guitar at the age of 9 soon after the death of his elder brother; his parents bought him an instrument, hoping it would help him deal with his grief. He was taking some guitar lessons but it was not until he was given an electric guitar that he got really engaged in exercising. He spent the weekends in the garage or his room playing guitar, but was limited to three hours on weekdays when school was in session. His early musical inspirations were Metallica, Iron Maiden, Kiss, classical jazz, New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Sortilège, Slayer, Celtic Frost, Possessed, and Mercyful Fate/King Diamond. Later in his career, Chuck has frequently cited progressive metal bands such as Watchtower, Coroner and Queensrÿche as influences but he did not refrain from the British alternative bands such as Lush either. He performed well in school but at some point he became bored with education, and eventually dropped out. However, he later regretted this decision and has stated that if he had not become a musician, he would have liked to have become a veterinarian or a cook.
Chuck formed Death in 1983 with Rick Rozz (guitar) and Kam Lee (drums and vocals). The line up changed frequently but the band managed to release three albums, Scream Bloody Gore (1987), Leprosy (1988) and Spiritual Healing (1990). After the latter, Chuck stopped working with the full-time band members and chose to work with the studio and live venue musicians instead. Thanks to the evolution towards the more technical and progressive style, Death’s next albums Human (1991), Individual Thought Patterns (1993), Symbolic (1995), and The Sound of Perseverance (1998), turned out to be a great succes.
He has also created the project Control Denied aimed at playing more melodic and progressive metal. The band released an album The Fragile Art of Existence in 1999 and was ready to record the second one, When Man and Machine Collide, but the preparations were interrupted by Chuck Schulinder’s illness. He also played guitar in the ‘supergroup’ Voodoocult on the album Jesus Killing Machine in 1994 and played a guest solo on Naphobia’s 1995 release, Of Hell on the track ‘As Ancients Evolve’ as a favour to the band’s bassist at the time who was his friend.
In May 1999, he was diagnosed with pontine glioma (a malignant type of brain cancer that invades the brainstem). He has immediately undergone the successful radiation therapy which necrotized the tumour. Unfortunately, the costs of operations and health care were too high for Schulinder and his family to afford. Many fundraisers, auctions, and benefit concerts were organised to gather the money, with the participation of Napalm Death, Ozzy Osbourne, and Anthrax. Dave Grohl helped Chuck by including him in his 2001 album Probot. The tumour returned two years later, in 2001, at that time Chuck was not able to afford the surgery that had to be done immediately. His family made a dramatic appeal for the financial help, again the artists such as Trivium, Kid Rock, Korn and Red Hot Chili Peppers, auctioned their personal items to gather the funds for his medical expenses with the help of MTV. Due the ineffectiveness of American health system, the insurer refused to pay for the expenses because the tumour had pre-dated insurance being taken out. Chuck has undergone a chemotherapy which has weakened his immune system and exposed it to an infection. In autumn, he contracted pneumonia and died on December 13, 2001, at approximately 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at the age of 34. His remains were cremated, according to MTV coverage his memorial service was attended by the artists including Mike Patton, Max Cavalera, King Diamond, Ville Valo, Trey Azagthoth, Glen Benton, and all the former and active members of Death.