Chi Cheng (musician)

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Chi Cheng
File:Chi Cheng.jpg
Cheng performing with Deftones at Hultsfred Festival in June 2006
Background information
Birth name Chi Ling Dai Cheng
Born (1970-07-15)July 15, 1970
Stockton, California, United States
Died April 13, 2013(2013-04-13) (aged 42)
Sacramento, California, United States
Genres Alternative metal, nu metal, heavy metal, post-metal, experimental rock, spoken word, post-rock
Occupation(s) Musician, poet
Instruments Bass, backing vocals
Years active 1988–2008
Labels Warner Bros., Maverick
Associated acts Deftones, Dredg

Chi Cheng (July 15, 1970 – April 13, 2013) was an American musician, best known as the bassist for the American alternative metal band Deftones.[1] His career ended in 2008, when he was involved in a serious automobile crash in Santa Clara, California. After the crash, he remained in a semi-comatose state for four years before dying of a cardiac arrest in April 2013.

Early life and education

Cheng was born in July 1970 in Stockton, California, to Jeanne and Yin Yan Cheng. His father, a prominent Stockton cardiologist, was a Chinese immigrant. Cheng graduated from Tokay High School[2] and attended California State University in Sacramento, enrolling in 1989. He worked on campus, wrote poetry, and played with his band Deftones during the course of his education.[3]


Cheng was studying English at Sacramento State when he joined Deftones. He would continue on as a poet and spoken word artist through his career with the band, often recording the spoken word with the intent for release later. He also authored an anthology of poetry titled The Bamboo Parachute, which was released in 2000 as a spoken word album. Cheng gave proceeds from the CD to various charities and to buy musical instruments for kids in the Sacramento area.

Personal life

Cheng was a practicing Buddhist and maintained an interest in Taoism and Shamanism. In addition to his conversion to Buddhism during his university years, he also became a vegetarian.[4]

Cheng had one son, Gabriel Cheng, from a previous marriage.[5][6]

Automobile crash and coma

Cheng was seriously injured in an automobile crash in Santa Clara, California, on November 4, 2008. Cheng was traveling with his sister, Mae, when their vehicle flipped three times after hitting another car going 60 mph. Cheng, who was in the passenger seat, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. Mae sustained minor injuries, as she had been wearing her seat belt. She attended to Cheng, holding his head until two off-duty EMTs, who happened to have their medical equipment, rendered aid. They were able to insert a tube into Cheng's throat to help him breathe until the ambulance arrived, an action that doctors later said helped him survive.[7] The crash left Cheng in a coma.

In February 2009, Deftones announced that they would perform as scheduled at the Bamboozle Left music festival in April, with their friend Sergio Vega (formerly of Quicksand) filling in for Cheng on stage.[8][9] Vega has since performed and recorded regularly with Deftones, including on the 2010 album Diamond Eyes and its follow-up Koi No Yokan.

On April 26, 2009, Cheng was readmitted to ICU following a near-fatal septicemia infection;[10] he survived the infection following treatment and was released from ICU about a week later.[11] Following the release, a rumor started to spread in early May that Cheng had awakened fully from his coma[12] but this was denied on, stating that Cheng is in a semi-conscious state.[13] On August 18, Cheng underwent surgery to replace a bone flap in his skull that had been removed after the crash, in order to relieve intracranial pressure.[14] was created in March to help raise funds for Cheng and his medical expenses, where fans can donate to help towards an initial target of $20,000 (later raised to $50,000, $100,000 and then again to $500,000 in 2010). It is also a place where fans can read personal blogs and comments from the Cheng family, and record a message that will be played to Cheng to further speed his recovery. In late April, PETA announced that 20% of the income from a "Happy Families, Not Happy Meals" T-shirt designed by Chi would go to the One Love For Chi foundation.[15] There was also a "Get well soon" card on MySpace[16] for Cheng that fans from all over the world can sign by posting comments. Fans and some rock celebrities have posted comments, including Sonic Youth, Thursday, The Used, Ill Niño, and Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst.

On April 27, Shepard Fairey put three signed copies of his Obama inauguration posters up for auction on eBay, with the proceeds of the auction going to the One Love for Chi Foundation.

Long-time friend and fellow bassist Fieldy of Korn has recorded an instrumental song along with other musicians. All proceeds will be donated to Chi's family.[17][18] The song, titled "A Song for Chi", was released for free via digital download on its official website where donations to Cheng and his family are also accepted. A few months later, in October, Răzvan Rădulescu (aka DJ Hefe) of the Romanian nu metal band Coma, released a compilation album titled From Eastern Europe with Love, featuring bands from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia – the proceeds from the sale of the album will also go to the One Love For Chi foundation.[19]

Deftones played a two-night benefit show on November 19–20 at Avalon in Hollywood. Proceeds went to the Chi Ling Cheng Special Needs Trust.[20] Guests included Far, Cypress Hill, Rodleen Getsic, Ben Kenney, Greg Puciato, Rick Verret, Tommy Lee, Mike Shinoda, P.O.D., Mark McGrath, Xzibit, Robert Trujillo, Rocky George and Mike Muir (Suicidal Tendencies), Dave Lombardo, Alexi Laiho, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan, and Max Cavalera.

In May 2010, Chi Cheng began showing significant signs of improvement, and was able to track individual people with his eyes, occasionally make worded responses, and slightly move his hands.[21] Chino Moreno stated that the Cheng family would be paying a doctor with the International Brain Research Foundation, who is experienced in the field of coma and trauma patients using funds raised through the oneloveforchi website to use an experimental medicine to bring Chi out of his coma-like state. The treatment had an 84% success rate.[21] In May 2011, Cheng began undergoing rehabilitation and additional operations in New Jersey.

On February 7, 2012, it was reported that Cheng was in a partially conscious state, having the ability to move his legs on command; however, he was unable to move independently or speak in sentences.[22] Two days after being released from the hospital, in June 2012, Cheng was diagnosed with pneumonia and rushed to the ICU.[23] On July 4, Cheng was released from the ICU and was undergoing recovery at his home.


On April 13, 2013, website reported that Cheng had died when he fell into a cardiac arrest after he was rushed to a hospital. According to a statement issued by his mother, Jeanne Marie Cheng, the morning of April 14, 2013, he was taken to the emergency room of a Sacramento area hospital around 3:00 a.m. PST when Jeanne recalls that her son's "heart just suddenly stopped." Whether his condition of pneumonia (first recorded back in June 2012[24]) was related to his death is still unknown. Upon arrival, Cheng was pronounced dead. Jeanne Cheng addressed her son's fans across the world with an impromptu letter.

Our dearest Family, (April 14, 2013)

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.

With great love and "Much Respect!" Mom J (and Chi)."



With Deftones

Guest appearances

In popular culture


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  9. [1] Archived February 9, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
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  14. Chi's Surgery Done.. Author: gina (August 18, 2009). "Deftones | Chi Cheng | Chi's Surgery Done.. | One Love For Chi™". Retrieved 2011-07-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  20. [2] Archived October 31, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
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  24. DEFTONES' Chi Cheng Hospitalized With Pneumonia
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External links