Deftones Bassist Chi Cheng Passes Away at 42

Chi was recovering from a coma following a major car crash in 2008, but lost his battle on Saturday morning according to this statement from his family.

Ultimate Guitar

Founding Deftones bassist Chi Cheng has died at 42 after a long battle for his health.

Chi was in a coma for years after a car crash in 2008. He was driving with his sister who only suffered minor injuries. Chi wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was flung from the vehicle, and sustained major injuries.

Despite posting regular updates on his recovery, his mother writes on the One Love for Chi site that he died in an emergency room at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning.

"This is the hardest thing to write to you. Your love and heart and devotion to Chi was unconditional and amazing," writes his mother in a statement. "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."

Deftones have not issued a statement on Chi's death, but singer Chino Moreno posted the short message "Rest in peace Chi Cheng" on his Facebook page.

The band have been performing regular benefit gigs to raise funds to support Chi's recovery, and for a while it looked like Chi was on a long but stable road to recovery. Sadly, he was hit with pneumonia in June last year, and by November his family started to consider stem cell therapy to speed his recovery. "It's a miracle he's still with us," said his brother Ming at the time.

Before his accident, Deftones were midway through recording the album "Eros." The project was put on hold with the intention of finishing it when Chi had fully recovered, and went on to release "Diamond Eyes" in 2010. Chi was replaced by Sergio Vega, the Quicksand bassist who once covered for Chi on bass in 1999 with his blessing.

Ultimate Guitar would like to extend its best wishes to Chi's family and friends at this difficult time.

Cheng family statement:

"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 emegency 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)"

R.I.P Deftones Bassist Chi Cheng. Very sweet and talented guy. Head injury from car accident. Everyone please wear seatbelt and live.

Tom Morello (@tmorello) April 14, 2013

My heart goes out to Chi's family and friends. He was a great guy and a legendary player!

Chester Bennington (@ChesterBe) April 15, 2013

Just heard that Chi from the Deftones passed away. That's really sad news. I didn't really know him. But he was an awesome bass player. RIP

Slash (@Slash) April 14, 2013

my heart goes out to Chino & deftones & Chi's family for their loss

Sebastian Bach (@sebastianbach) April 14, 2013



My friend Chi passed away. My heart goes out to his family, and to my friends in @deftones. This is indeed a sad day...

The Boogie Knight (@CoreyTaylorRock) April 14, 2013

134 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Absolutely terrible loss. Hopefully he finds the peace he's been missing these past four and a half years.
    Such a sad ending to a long and hard fought battle. I didn't really know the Deftones well but I have been following Chi's progress and seeing occasional updates through this site. It's not about the music, the world lost a great, innocent soul that should have never been lost with so much life left in it. At least Chi can finally be at peace this way. Rest in peace - "Gone but never forgotten"
    And a really unexpected one, too. According to the One Love site he was doing really good these past few months, making progress, and then out of nowhere this happens. That's probably the worst part - that there was hope.
    Great story man. It really is a horrible end. In a coma for over 4 years and this is how it ends? I hope God provides a good home for him. RIP (Rock in Peace) Chi
    "should" um what SHOULD have happened? he chose not to wear a seat belt. that was his choice. nothing else should happen.
    A very nice guy..a reminder to all of us to wear our seatbelts and not to take things for granted.. RIP Chi Cheng
    This. f*cking this. It's a damn shame such a talented musician has to go so early just because of such a trivial thing as to not fastening his seatbelt, but it should be a reminder to us all. May he rest in peace.
    Couldn't agree more with both the above comments. The worst thing about this whole situation is that it was entirely preventable if he was wearing a seatbelt Buckle up and save lives people! RIP Chi
    A friend of mine crashed his car on Friday night, something went wrong with the steering and he ended up going straight on at a corner, crashed through a hedge and rolled his car over. His brother told me that he doesn't know how he walked away from it. The left side of his body is majorly bruised but there is a huge mark on his body where his seatbelt cut into him. Always wear your seatbelt guys and gals, RIP Chi Cheng.
    I don't usually comment, but felt the need here. I was in a major car crash in November of last year and the cops told me I should be dead after something like that. While the seat belt broke my collar bone, it saved my life. Just another reminder to everyone
    At least he's finally at peace, instead of trapped in his own body.
    Yeah... Maybe he was making progress, but I don't think Chi would have wanted to live like that, or that he would ever recover to the point where he would have a good quality of life. Love the guy, love the band, but he had serious brain damage and maybe it's better that he be allowed to pass on...
    Such a nice, funny guy, and at the very end he thanks the interviewer, he was a sweet soul.
    Jim #4
    yeah, i thought the same. would have loved it if he would have recovered but now hes no longer bound to a bed a is able to finally rock out again
    he wont be 'rocking out'. he will be dead.
    Will someone please block Ndanny from this site? There are people genuinely upset by this news and he's being a dick. There is no place in this community for people like this.
    Wow. This sucks. I was always holding out hope that he would get better and be able to play again.
    RIP. And I hope people will understand now that sealtbelt aren't for decoration...
    I take great comfort in the fact that Chi lived a life much deeper than most people. He lived a life with more passion than most people. He was privileged to live his life with the Deftones and to travel the world with his best friends. And the Deftones were privileged to have him with them. So I say, instead of mourning his passing, instead celebrate his life. Celebrate the amazing life he was so fortunate to live. He will go down in history, he will be remembered and he shall always be missed. Rest in peace.
    Very sad news, we all thought he would recover at some point. I have to say my love for Deftones grew quickly when they released Koi No Yokan back in November; I liked it so much I had to go back to their earlier works. All their albums were very enjoyable, my favorite being "Saturday Night Wrist". I feel for the rest of the guys in the band, they were all great friends since the very beginning. RIP Chi (I'm sure he was a great man)
    Very sad news. I feel terrible especially for his loved ones, who for five whole years clung onto the idea that he may come back. RIP, you will be missed.
    I met him on the White Pony Tour when I was 15. He was such a down to earth guy. One Love for Chi.
    My best friend died in a car accident because he wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Six months later, the same thing happened to another of my friends. And now Chi has the same fate. Please, wear a seatbelt at all times. This is just... horrible. I can't imagine what his family feels right now.
    He's the reason I really got into bass. His grooves felt effortless. He wasn't a standard bass player; I feel that he had the perfect balance of playing in line and playing in counterpoint. Never got to see him live, which is a shame. Rest in peace, you incredible performer. You were, are, and always will be my favourite bass player.
    this one goes out to Chi. Never quite got into the older material but Im giving it a spin now. Love this song.
    Shocking news. I had heard he was doing so well. Rest in peace, it was something he surely lacked these past five years. At least he's no longer suffering. And I have to say, ALWAYS wear your seatbelt. This could have totally been prevented.
    Really thought he was going to make it, very sad news indeed. R.I.P Chi. Hopefully people will think twice when it comes to seat belts now though. :/
    Sad news! Coincidentally, I was just out driving blasting Around the Fur on quiet streets. Chi Cheng's bass will rattle skulls and wake the elderly long after the flowers have withered. R.I.P.
    This is such sad news. I wrote a small blog remembering Chi.
    im not mental
    i'll admit that i wasn't expecting chi to play with the deftones again, but i was still expecting him to make a recovery. rest easy, chi.
    I'm going to be a man and admit this. When I heard this news, I not only was speechless but I also started tearing up a bit. I grew up listening to Deftones and who would have thought 10 years ago that they might have something like this happen. RIP Chi.
    Very heartbreaking but like many had previously stated, he's finally at peace and that's all that matters. Met him once in 2001 and he was genuinely one of the nicest musicians I have ever encountered. Godspeed Chi Cheng!
    Poor guy. What a terrible way to live out the last years of your life. Oh well, at least he had a caring family and friends who truly cared about him till the end. RIP.
    RIP Chi , saw you live 6 times , your a badass bass player, I loved the way you head banged on stage. Rock and Roll heaven is getting too crowed. Cliff and Paul are also there too keep you company buddy RIP
    Saw the news this morning... Not a great way to start the day. Can't say I was ever the biggest fan of Deftones, but Chi's playing was certainly a reason to come back for more - he was one of the players to inspire me to pick up the instrument, myself. Rest in Peace, Chi, free of pain.
    This is so sad. It seemed that he was getting better then i see this. At least he doesn't have to suffer anymore. May God rest his soul.
    So sad to here this.. Chi was an inspiration me. I saw him live at Ozzfest 99' back in Georgia and what a performer he was. The guys veins were practically popping out of his neck when he was doing backing vocals and he was ripping that bass apart like no other. RIP CHI! You will be missed.
    Of course it's very sad but this is exactly why the law says you need to wear a seatbelt. If he wasn't a relatively famous musician people would be saying he deserved it.
    Harsh yet probably accurate. This news took the wind right out of my sails the other day.
    Deserved it is too strong. People may comment that someone may deserve the consequences if their thoughtless, reckless behaviour endangered other innocent lives, but in this case the only life he endangered by not wearing a seatbelt was his own. And who hasn't done something slightly stupid in their time? It's still a tragedy, and not just because he was a famous or talented musician. It's a sad and needless loss of life. Yes he should've worn a seatbelt, but surely no-one deserves what he and his family suffered.
    Thrice Capades
    Not the right time or place, man. We're in mourning.
    Thrice Capades
    Allow me to share my opinion on etiquette in this situation, because while some of you may disagree with me I think you just might learn something. When a good man dies, no matter how or why, it is imperative to show respect for that man in the immediate wake of his death. While he made a poor decision, he did not deserve this (nor the implication that he deserved it). His family and friends who stood by his side didn't deserve this. Now if you want to debate his actions in a week, that's fine. But today, tomorrow, and pretty much until this man's body has been laid to rest, it is completely out of line to speak ill of him. You all may disagree, but from somebody who has seen enough loss in his life you just might want to remember this. Chi was a great man who gave some of us the best times of our lives, and that's all we should be talking about right now.