One of the greatest tragedies in the history of death metal took place on Dec. 13, 2001, when Death frontman Chuck Schuldiner (pictured front center) died following a prolonged battle with a brain tumor. He was 34.
Even though fans continue to debate whether or not Schuldiner coined the term death metal (extreme thrash band Possessed released a demo called Death Metal in 1984, the same year Death sent out their first demo Death by Metal), that issue was never important to Schuldiner. He never wanted to be the first, he just wanted to be known as a guy who pushed the boundaries of the genre. In an early interview, Schuldiner said he was flattered by people who considered him the founder of the genre, but added, “In my opinion Venom was the first to have that brutal vocal styles, tuned low, that initial brutal aggression. But maybe I’ve kept it going to what death metal is today.”