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Chi Cheng, Deftones Bassist, Dead at 42

Cheng played on band’s first five albums

Greg Prato Apr 15, 2013
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Photo: Chi Cheng of Deftones. Photo: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License/danieljordahl on Flickr

Photo: Chi Cheng of Deftones. Photo: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License/danieljordahl on Flickr

Chi Cheng, the bassist for the Deftones, died at the age of 42. Cheng had been involved in a car accident in 2008, which left him in a coma for some time. Although he eventually began showing signs of improvement, he was never able to make a full recovery.

Cheng was taken to the emergency room, where he died at 3 a.m. on Saturday. “His heart just suddenly stopped,” Cheng’s mother, Jeanne Marie Cheng, wrote on the One Love for Chi website. “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.”

Born Chi Ling Dai Cheng on August 15, 1970 in Davis, California, Cheng joined the Deftones shortly after the band formed in 1988. One of the leading acts of the “nu metal” movement of the mid-late nineties, Cheng’s bass playing can be heard on such early Deftones classics as 1995’s Adrenaline, 1997’s Around the Fur, and 2000’s White Pony. Additionally, Cheng issued a spoken word release in 2000, The Bamboo Parachute.

But on November 4th, 2008 in Santa Clara, California, Cheng was the passenger of a car that was involved in an accident, which resulted in the bassist being ejected from the vehicle (he was not wearing a seat belt at the time), and left him in a coma and fighting for his life.

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The aforementioned One Love for Chi site was set up to offer news updates and offer a donation option, to help offset mounting medical costs, and his Deftones band mates (plus special guests) performed two benefit shows in 2009. The group has continued on with Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega assuming Cheng’s spot.

Beginning in 2010, some progress could be detected, including Cheng being able to move his hands slightly, and eventually being able to move his legs on command. By 2012, he was allowed to return home and continue his recovery.

Cheng’s mother added on the aforementioned One Love 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.”


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