Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, who has been in a semi-conscious state since a 2008 car accident, died early Saturday morning, his family announced. He was 42. In a statement posted on the charity site Oneloveforchi.com, Cheng’s family writes that the musician was taken to the emergency room where he died around 3 a.m.
“He left this world with me singing songs he liked in his ear,” wrote Mom J.
Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno confirmed Cheng’s passing on his Facebook page.
Cheng suffered major injuries and was left in a coma following a November 2008 car crash in Santa Clara, Calif. The bassist was driving with his sister when they collided with another car, sending his vehicle rolling. He was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. His sister was wearing hers, and only sustained minor injuries.
Cheng co-founded Deftones in the late 1980s with fellow Sacramentoans Moreno, Stephen Carpenter and Abe Cunningham. He was an integral part of the nu-metal band’s success, performing on their first five albums, the first being 1994’s Adrenaline and his final release Saturday Night Wrist in 2006.
They were putting the finishing touches on their next full-length album, titled Eros, at the time of the crash. The band ultimately decided to shelve the project and eventually replaced Cheng with Sergio Vega, formerly of Quicksand. They have released two albums since.
The Cheng family statement is below:
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 am 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 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)
On April 14, the Recording Academy released the following statement:
“Grammy winner Chi Cheng of the Deftones was a powerful bassist who was larger than life on stage. Playing on the group’s first five albums, he and his bandmates received a Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category at the 43rd Grammy Awards in Feb. 2001. Although the group’s early years were more heavy metal-based, they were one of the first bands to incorporate a more alternative and ethereal sound into their thunderous and visceral music, blazing a trail that newer bands continue to follow today. The music industry has lost a proud and passionate performer all too soon, and our sincerest condolences go out to his family, his bandmates, and his fans worldwide who are mourning his untimely and unfortunate passing.”