December 13th 2003: two years have passed since Chuck
Schuldiner left us, two years in which we have missed
him very badly, and the emptiness in our hearts has
sometimes seemed impossible to fill. To pay homage
to one of the icons of modern metal, but above all
to a very extraordinary guy, Metal Hammer has decided
to dedicate to him this special, trying to understand
in the words of his mother Jane Schuldiner who Chuck
"the man" really was. An exclusive, touching
In everyday life, it often happens that one would stop
for a second and reflect, feeling a distressing emptiness.
It's nothing you can touch, just a feeling from deep
down inside of you that leads to melancholy and sadness
for the loss of something or somebody beloved, somebody
who meant a lot to you, whose loss still today affects
your life. In these last two years, it's been natural
to combat this feeling of emptiness to the face, the
spirit, the music of Chuck Schuldiner. He was a rare
kind of person in the music biz, a boy like many others,
who, like few others, has written core pages in the
book of metal, contagious with his enthusiasm and larger-than-life
love for music, a "heavy metal kid" who was
able to become an idol without changing his spirit,
and that's the main reason why, even now, there are
many who mourn the passing of a brother.
Very often this mother avoided
reporters due to past experiences, and for this the
following interview gets even more important. "In
the past I've been criticized for having been too available
and talked too much about Chuck" - once
she wrote in one of our many e-mails we exchanged -
"But it's hard not being; he was the most
interesting person I have ever known, and was a wonderful
friend too, always there for his sister, nephew and
me. Like his sister said, the sky is less blue without
him and I feel the world without Chuck is very tough
to face every day." A touching and moving
depth, deriving from a strong dignity and great love
for that son taken away from her too early, which is
showed again in the next answers.
In fact, it was December 13th 2001 when Chuck, silently,
had finished being "just a musician" and became
a legend. Today, two years after that sad day, Metal
Hammer wants to pay homage to this wonderful person,
taking aside the musical concern, Death, Control Denied
and a sound that unfortunately won't be anymore, to
let you know "the man" Chuck Schuldiner, a
guy with his dreams and his fears, his loves and his
passions, just like any of us. And who better than the
person who gave birth to him could describe to us who
Chuck actually was? Jane Schuldiner is a woman tried
by life, and her courage and kindness hits you; she's
such an extraordinary person that makes it easy for
you to remember in her words, that guy who gave us great
emotions with his guitar.
Who was Chuck?
Chuck was a talented
musician and writer as well as a very nice and caring
guy to the many friends he had and the family he always
put first in his life. He was truthful and honest
and loving and he expected no less of any of us.
was he when he was a baby, a boy and then a man?
Chuck was always friendly and smiling as a baby
and through childhood. As a man, he was as I described
in question #1, except he learned to be very selective
in whom to trust.
he a good student? And what about his relations with
Chuck was a good student, never a problem. He
was very popular and had many good memories of school
and friends he met there that he kept all through
his life. These friends were like an extended family
and many are still in touch with me.
it true that he started to play as a therapy for a
Yes, Chuck started playing after the traumatic
death of his 16 year old brother.
you remember when he was emotionally involved during
a Kiss concert?
Chuck was absolutely emotionally involved in the band
Kiss. He went to all the concerts. They were the leader
among the bands that had a great influence on him
musically. He was a big fan of theirs and finally
met them not long ago and found they knew who he was.
He got to hang out and talk to them about music, and
it was a thrill for him.
you remember his first concert? Did you attend to
it? What were your emotions?
Yes, his first
concert was at a local park with high school friends
he played with at the time. I did attend and was so
proud and excited, it was the only time I had the
privilege of seeing him play in that way. I found
a picture of that concert recently and I'm planning
to share it on the emptywords site.
describe Chuck's normal day, seen by the eyes of a
mother; was he quiet? Nervous? Kind? Aggressive? Or
Chuck's days at home were so normal, he had quite
a few interests and was very busy. When he wasn't
busy with his music, he loved to go antiquing, play
with his pets, go to the beach, cook on the grill
and cook wonderful meals in his kitchen and inviting
friends and family over to eat, going to a movie or
to the mall for Barney's coffee. I was a very fortunate
mom, he invited me to join him a lot of the time.
about his "life philosophy"?
I will say just one thing I observed as Chuck
grew into the man he was. He consciously tried his
best to right wrongs when he could, he tried to live
and treat people and all he came across in this world
as he wanted to be treated. And from the massive amounts
of mail I receive to this day about the acts of kindness
he gave to people all over the world, he made a difference.
If you read his lyrics, his philosophy is there.
were his reactions to difficult situations (line-up
changes... change of label...)? Was he resigned or
I would say that when Chuck made those sometimes
painful decisions it was hard for him, but necessary,
he felt. It was a professional decision and Chuck
did what he felt he had to do for the band no matter
how tough it was , and obviously time told that it
was best for the band and its success.
general opinion is that he was an extremely sensible
and deep boy. Is it true?
Yes, he was always that way.
he the son that every mother would like to have?
Yes, in every way, without a single doubt.
you remember something said or written about him that
made you proud to be his mother?
Yes, when people Chuck met along the way write
to share their feelings with me and tell me of how
much Chuck affected their lives and how much they
love him and will never forget him. That is the result
of the the kind of man Chuck was and I am so very
proud of him. If I seem unable to find a negative
in Chuck, that is because there were none to be found
in his life with us, his family.
Do you remember when he realized that music
was so important in his life?
Chuck was 10
years old when he first began his interest in
music, and it was the beginning of his career
as it turned out to be more than a casual interest.
He became deeply involved almost immediately
and never stopped. Early in his teen years he
was recording demos and reading all the music
magazines he could find. He saved these magazines
and I have them stored away for his nephew.
The demos led to contact with people all over
the US eventually. It was really great because
he was very close to his brother and it helped
to fill an empty space in his life.
was your position at that moment? Did you support
him or not?
and I always supported him 100% in his music
and helped in any way we could.
you ever hope or suggest to your son a more
I never did,
but Chuck did have a job for a short while.
He was very busy with school and his music so
we encouraged him to concentrate on those things.
was your opinion about such an extreme musical
proposal like that of Death?
was not metal at first, though it rapidly evolved
into it. I didn't ever see anything wrong in
it, then or now. I appreciated how it affected
his life in a positive manner and led to a lot
The first concrete result
of your son's choice was an album. What were
your emotions when you saw and heard it for
the first time?
so proud!! As corny as it may sound, his father
and I had a cake baked with a record and #1
printed on it. On the emptywords site is a picture
of that happy day. Fortunately Chuck was very
indulgent with us and loved our enthusiasm for
his accomplishments, big and small.
he play when he was angry?
Yes, sometimes. He also played when he was
happy as well, and just for the sheer joy of
it. He had fulfilled his dream of a studio of
his own and spent many hours in it, sometimes
all night, playing his guitar and composing.
He was happy that he was able to help bands
that were just beginning their careers in that
what is your opinion about the long lasting
memory of Chuck in the metal music scene?
I know from experience that the people in
metal are very dedicated to their music and
one thing I have seen a lot, they close ranks
in times of need. I met so many wonderful unforgettable
people. Chuck always said they are like a big
family, and I have seen proof that this is so.
I may never see any of them again but I will
always feel close to Chuck's metal friends.
The dedication of metal fans all over the world
is enormous, metal music is very important to
them and many write and tell me their children
are being introduced to it. Just think of that,
What was the meaning of "success"
Success for Chuck was not financial. Sure
he wanted to be comfortable, but his idea for
success was exactly what he had, acknowledgment
for his efforts from the ones who made it all
possible, his fans. Truly. He always said that
if he could just tour and play for them, skipping
all the in-between people, he would be a happy
he realize he would be an example not only for
other groups but also for his many fans?
That was always a consideration for Chuck.
He was very proud when many of the bands and
fans out there wrote to him and told him that
he was their inspiration. Many have written
that the messages in Chuck's lyrics were important
for them in troubled times, as they still are.
And for me as well. I remember the lyrics that
I found so moving. In essence, it was "Rivers
of sorrow, oceans deep with hope." That
was Chuck's life in the music world, and the
personal tragedies in his life. Fortunately
he focused more on the oceans of hope.
you ever hear him say "And now I'm on the
I never heard him say that.
What was his and your reaction to the terrible
announcement of his disease?
So many emotions
for me, rejection, doom, sorrow, catastrophic
fear. Of course Chuck had to have felt some
of that, but he never showed it to us, his family,
or anyone else that I know of. His thoughts
were of how we felt and, as hard as it was,
that gave me the strength to control myself,
for him, and join his fight to recover. An ocean
of hope was what we all had for that recovery.
he sufficiently strong to face such a terrible
Yes, he was.
His doctors, nurses, all the people who came
in contact with Chuck in that horrific time
were amazed at his fortitude and consideration
for them when he was so sick himself. He made
many new fans of another kind during that time,
and they loved him. There was real grief and
tears among them when Chuck lost that fight.
We still hear from the medical community, they
remember him with fondness.
When these accidents happen,
normally people wonder "Why me?" "Why
to my boy?". Could you find an answer to
then, not now, not ever.
you resign yourself?
you ever feel like"mother courage"?
No, I persevered for Chuck, courage had
nothing to do with it.
Did someone psychologically help you to overcome
No, there is no overcoming this pain.
all mothers who lost their sons, don't you think
you're lucky because Chuck's music, voice, video
and the hearts of his fans let him continue
to live among us?
Yes, I am so very thankful for that, it
is the greatest comfort I have since the loss
of Chuck and extremely important to me.
you Jane for sharing with us these precious
Thank you. Chuck's sister posed a question
to me, would we miss Chuck so much if he had
not been the person he was, and I can only say
that it is not possible to miss him more.
thanks to Jane Schuldiner, Yvonne, Vincenzo, and all the staff