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A Tribute to Guitarist Charles Michael "Chuck Schuldiner"- Well Deserved

Updated on May 13, 2022
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner seen here in this 1992 photo.
Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner seen here in this 1992 photo. | Source

Chuck Schuldiner deserves praise, recognition, and respect even after his death

Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner who lost his life due to brain stem cancer in 2001 has always been one of my favorite American born guitarists. With the fact that the United States had just celebrated another birthday at the time that I wrote this, I felt I had to give a tribute to a man that influenced American death metal and to show that in fact there are memorable people, places, or events in this country. Chuck Schuldiner was the vocalist and guitarist for the Florida based band Death.

What Has Changed About This Article About Chuck Schuldiner?

Note: at the first writing of this article, there was also a detailed review of two of the band’s albums Spiritual Healing and Leprosy but for now, the article will only focus on the life of Chuck Schuldiner and his influence on the American music scene at large. This article will also not be a straight biography. It will analyze Chuck’s life, his greatness and the impact of his loss to the world music scene.

A model of the BC Rich electric guitar, the main brand of electric guitar that Schuldiner used in his career.
A model of the BC Rich electric guitar, the main brand of electric guitar that Schuldiner used in his career. | Source

Schuldiner's Early Life and His Major Musical Influences

Although Schuldiner was born in New York State on May 13, 1967, his family moved down to Florida in 1968 where Chuck would spend much of the rest of his life. He would begin playing the guitar at the young age of 9, inspired by bands such as Iron Maiden, KISS, and Billy Idol. He also had a very keen interest in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, his biggest influence for his style of guitar playing.

What Was Chuck Schuldiner's Most Successful Musical Moment?

Given the very melodic nature of the band Death it is easy for me to spot the fact that Schuldiner would have been influenced by Iron Maiden. Schuldiner and his band experienced their best success in 1991 with the release of the album Human which is the band’s best-selling album, having sold over 600,000 copies. With an album that was that good, the band would ultimately get even better, releasing their amazing album Symbolic in 1995 which is their best album ever!

The song called "Born Dead"

Cancer Ended the Life of Chuck Schuldiner

The talent of Chuck is so immense that writing about him makes me realize that he is my favorite US born heavy metal guitarist. Even listening to the brilliance of the song “Overactive Imagination” is an example of Chuck’s greatness as a musician. In spite of the success that Chuck had seen in his life, on May 13, 1999, he was diagnosed with a cancer of the brain stem and although he would recover by January 2000, in May 2001, the cancer would return and Schuldiner would fall ill once again. This second time, he would ultimately lose his battle with cancer and die on December 13, 2001. Schuldiner is usually referred to as “the father of death metal,” something that he was never really comfortable with.

A list of the full length albums that Chuck Schuldiner played on

Year released
Album Title
Scream Bloody Gore
Spiritual Healing
Individual Thought Patterns
The Sound of Perseverance

Guitarist that replaced James Murphy

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10 Memorable Chuck Schuldiner Moments

Why is Schuldiner's Death So Bad for the Heavy Metal Genre?

Schuldiner has the unfortunate place in history as being one of several heavy metal musicians to die at a young age. Sadly, Schuldiner would make history in a sad way, joining several performers that have died at such a young age. His death remains in my perspective one of the biggest losses for the heavy metal genre along with the death of Cliff Burton. While Metallica lost a bassist that they considered to be a family member, Chuck Schuldiner’s loss deprived the world of not just a terrific musician, but someone that defined the early days of the Florida death metal scene.

His loss was enormous, not just for the death metal scene but for heavy metal at large. The speed, technical riffing, and extensive melodies can never be replaced and I have not seen such brilliance musically from any American death metal band since Chuck’s death. The bottom line is the Chuck Schuldiner should be considered one of the Top 5 best US born heavy metal guitarists of all-time.

Vacant Planets (a song that really shows Chuck Schuldiner's guitar brilliance)

Final Thoughts About the Great Chuck Schuldiner

Later in his career, Chuck had a major improvement in his voice and the drumming with the solid double bass only further solidified his status among US born guitarists. Yes, guitarists such as Marty Friedman, Steve Vai, and Jason Becker are more well-known in US musical history but I believe that Chuck should still be given serious consideration for his playing ability, skill, and overall technique. Just listen to songs such as Overactive Imagination and you will witness this man’s awesome talent! Rest in peace my good sir! It was back in 1999 that Schuldiner did an interview with It may be cheesy to state that no one could cheat death, not even Chuck Schuldiner. At the time, he had been writing material for his other band Control Denied. He had undergone 6 weeks of radiotherapy treatment in New York and he was just waiting for the results. Schuldiner considered himself a lover of life, people, and animals. He even once said in an interview that he would like to live forever if it was possible. He must have really loved life to have wanted to continue living and I really admire him for that. He will always be one of the top guitarists in the history of heavy metal.

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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