The 35 Most Tragic Moments in the History of Nu-Metal

The 35 Most Tragic Moments in the History of Nu-Metal
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Nu-metal was huge in 2000 as the New Wave of American Heavy Metal took over the world. Bands like Limp Bizkit, Korn and System of a Down had massive mainstream success – and even old-school acts like Metallica were being influenced by the upstarts. While the lyrics were often dark, though, you might not know that many of the biggest names in the genre have actually faced terrible tragedy in their own lives. Here are 35 of the darkest chapters and controversies in the history of the sub-genre.


The death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray
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The man known as the Pig in Slipknot died of an overdose in May 2010. A hotel employee discovered his body, along with needles and pills in the room. Gray’s doctor would ultimately face charges of involuntary manslaughter for prescribing drugs to Gray, though he was eventually acquitted.
The death of Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera’s stepson
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Soulfly’s Max Cavalera, formerly of Sepultura, was inspired in his writing by the death of his stepson Dana Wells in 1996. Wells died in a traffic accident, and Cavalera explained in an interview with Metal Hammer that one of Soulfly’s best-known songs, “Bleed,” was inspired by the tragedy. He explained, “I thought of ‘Bleed,’ because that’s how we were all feeling. We were all still suffering, still bleeding, from his death.”


Fan crushed to death in Limp Bizkit moshpit
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Limp Bizkit were performing at the Australian Big Day Out festival in 2001 when a fan died in the crowd. Jessica Michalik, 16, was among 70,000 spectators. Things got out of control and, trapped under several people, the young woman was crushed to death. Another fan, 16-year-old Amelia Tomiki, managed to escape the crush. Speaking at the inquest into the death, she said, “I could feel just more and more weight being added… people were screaming, ‘Help, get off me.’”


The passing of Deftones bassist Chi Cheng
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The Deftones were going from success to success when Chi Cheng was involved in a traffic accident in 2008. The incident left him comatose. Over the next few years he appeared to be recovering, however, in 2013, his condition worsened and he died of heart failure.


Drowning Pool’s Dave Williams is found dead
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Drowning Pool’s original vocalist, Dave Williams, died of heart failure in August 2002. Nicknamed “Stage” by Dimebag Darrell, Williams died on the band’s tour bus, falling victim to undiagnosed heart muscle disease. The band continued after his death but struggled to settle on a singer after Williams’s passing, with lead vocals moving from Jason Jones to Ryan McCombs and then on to Jasen Moreno.


The Deadlights’ Wilfred Collins ODs
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Wilfred “Duke” Collins was the lead singer for the Deadlights and the bassist for Droid. He died of a heroin overdose in 2015 after a long battle with drugs. In a 2016 interview with MetalSucks, Duke’s mother talked about how long her son had struggled with addiction, explaining that it had begun in his teens. “He was a very undercover addict,” she said. “He hated it, and he tried very hard to stay clean.”


Static-X’s Wayne Static dies at home
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Core Static-X member Wayne Static died at home in 2014. The singer was found to have a range of prescription drugs in his system, and he had also been drinking before his death, which came shortly before he would have turned 49. He died in bed, next to his wife, who woke to discover that he had passed away.


Disturbed stagehand killed in an accident
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A 19-year-old stagehand died while working on a show in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2017, which saw Disturbed playing alongside Avenged Sevenfold and Chevelle. A 26-year-old crew member fell 20 meters while taking down the lighting for Avenged Sevenfold’s set, before hitting the stagehand and fatally injuring him. In a statement after the event, Disturbed said, “The horror and heartbreak felt by everyone on the tour is beyond words.”


Korn’s Jonathan Davis is beset by tragedy
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Korn frontman Jonathan Davis went through an incredibly difficult period while working on the album, “The Nothing” in 2018. He lost his estranged wife, Deven, to an overdose, with an autopsy revealing a huge range of drugs in her system; meanwhile, his mother, Holly, also died during the same time period. In an episode of his YouTube documentary series, he commented, “I went to a really dark place, and I think I brought back something dark with me ever since I lost them.”


American Head Charge’s Bryan Ottoson found dead
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Guitarist Bryan Ottoson was found dead mid-tour in 2005. His bandmates had presumed that Ottoson was sleeping, but the 27-year-old had died in a bunk on the band’s tour bus. His death was attributed to an overdose of prescription medication, following a night of drinking in a bar.


Seether frontman Shaun Morgan realizes he has to kick his addictions
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Following his breakup with Evanescence’s Amy Lee – and the end of perhaps nu-metal’s greatest power couple – Shaun Morgan booked himself into rehab in 2006. The move meant that touring plans for the band had to be canceled, but after the singer’s recovery, he was able to rejoin the group. Morgan made a statement apologizing for this, and explaining, “I need help with addictions that I can’t kick on my own.”


Lostprophets’ Ian Watkins found guilty of child sex offenses
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In 2013, the music community was rocked by the trial of Ian Watkins, the singer for Lostprophets. Watkins was accused and found guilty of a wide range of horrific sexual offenses against very young children, including the sexual assault of a child under 13. The band was dissolved after Watkins was handed a 29-year prison sentence, although the other members have gone on to make new music as No Devotion.


Shaun Morgan’s brother’s suicide
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We’ve already mentioned Shaun Morgan’s struggles with drugs, but the Seether musician experienced further tragedy a year after he checked into rehab. Morgan’s brother, Eugene Welgemoed, died while on tour with the band in 2007 in Rapid City, South Dakota. He jumped out of a window on the eighth floor of the Radisson Hotel. An investigation concluded that the death was a suicide. The band recorded the song “Rise Above This” as a tribute to Welgemoed, and Morgan has the date of the death tattooed on his fingers.


36 Crazyfists formed after the murder of Duane Monsen
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36 Crazyfists has had more than its fair share of tragedy. The band originally formed after Duane Monsen, the drummer for Broke, was killed in a stabbing in 1994; the members of several local groups came together for a benefit concert in what would become 36 Crazyfists’ first show. Bassist JD Stuart was killed in a car collision in 1996 just two years later, however; and guitarist Ryan Brownell left the group at the same time. Nevertheless, the band survived and would eventually prosper.


Sevendust lead singer Lajon Witherspoon’s brother is shot and killed
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Immediately before a performance in 2002, Lajon Witherspoon got the tragic news that his 21-year-old brother, Reginald, had been shot in his car in Nashville. The band continued with the show at the request of Witherspoon’s father, paying tribute to Reginald, though other concerts in the tour were canceled. Previously, Lajon had written the song “Prayer,” which appeared on the band’s debut and recalled how Lajon had grown up with his younger sibling.


Fan dies at Bring Me the Horizon show
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Bring Me the Horizon were playing at a London venue in 2018 when a fan died. The venue, Alexandra Palace, reported that the death was due to a medical incident and was unrelated to security measures in place for the gig. The band issued a statement, saying, “Words cannot express how horrified we are… Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones at this terrible time.”


Chimaira singer Mark Hunter diagnosed with cancer
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Chimaira had a lot of changes over the years, with the one constant being singer Mark Hunter. Sadly, Hunter was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2019. His doctor found a mass in his neck which, upon testing, was revealed to be Papillary thyroid cancer. Sharing the news Hunter quoted Nietzsche – “and Conan the Barbarian” – writing, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Fortunately, the singer’s surgery proved to be a success.


Rust Epique dies of a heart attack
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Frontman of pre)thing and Crazy Town, Rust Epique died of a heart attack in his Las Vegas home in 2004, aged just 35. Rap metal act Crazy Town had already seen some significant success, scoring a number one hit with “Butterfly”; Pre)thing, meanwhile, looked set for great things when Epique’s sudden death resulted in the end of the group.


Death of Twisted Method’s Andrew Howard
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Guitarist Andrew Howard died mysteriously in 2005, at 23. He was found in bed some 18 hours after his death and seemed to have previously taken methadone. His death occurred just months after he had made the decision to stop touring with the band to spend more time with his wife and twin daughters Riley Nicole and Jade Renee. The two had been born prematurely and underweight – making the timing of his death all the more tragic.


Shawn Crahan of Slipknot loses his daughter
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Slipknot percussionist and last remaining original member Shawn Crahan – aka Clown – suffered a terrible personal tragedy when his daughter Gabrielle died from a reported drug overdose in 2019. She was only 22 years old and had been battling addiction. Sadly, she had shared an image of her five-month sobriety coin on Instagram just a few days before she died.


Kid Rock’s PA killed in an accident
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