The ten heaviest metal deaths
R.I.P., Jeff Hanneman (second from left).
Unless you're the Highlander, death is simply inevitable. Be that as it may, the untimely passing of these metal men left us all in shock, defying the natural order of things. From Jeff Hanneman and Chi Cheng, most recently, to Randy Rhoads and Cliff Burton, all of these revered metal maestros left us way too soon. Keep reading for a list of the ten heaviest metal deaths.
10. Layne Staley After years of struggling with addiction, Layne Staley died in his condo, his body withered away, his chosen vice having gotten the best of him. If his singing voice equated to a certain level of immortality, he would have lived forever, gracing our ears with his powerful, expressive vocals.
9. Chi Cheng Back in 2008, Chi Cheng was involved in a grave car accident that left him in a semi-comatose state. The Deftones bassist survived for more than four years in this state before suffering cardiac arrest and passing away this past April.
8. Cory Smoot, aka "Flattus Maximus" In the humorous metal band GWAR, "Flattus" referred to flatulence, and as a childlike dumdum character, Flattus was basically a guitarist fueled to play with his brain farts and pot smoke. Smoot died of coronary artery disease only hours after a show back in November of 2011, and the next day, the band retired the longtime character out of respect for him.
7. Peter Steele Before his death, Peter Steele towered over crowds, both literally at 6'8" and with his booming voice, a deep bass baritone coloring dark metal, draped over lyrics of self-deprecation, death and a fascination with the female body, written with a poetic burn. Steele died in 2010 of heart failure; his death was initially thought to be a hoax, as the singer had previously joked about his demise, posting a picture of himself and the dates "1962-2005."
6. Øystein Aarseth, aka "Euronymous" Euronymous was the co-founder of Mayhem, a talented guitarist and a large figure in the early death-metal scene in Sweden. He was stabbed 23 times by fellow bandmember Varg Vikernes after a dispute at Aarseth's apartment. After his death, the drummer Hellhammer kept the band going and released the influential 1994 album De Mysteriss Dorn Sathanas, with the murderer and victim playing on the same album.
5. Jeff Hanneman Still very fresh in the mind, Jeff Hanneman's death from alcohol-related cirrhosis and liver failure is still hard to come to grips with. As a founding member of Slayer, he was a big contributor to the development of thrash metal and the birth of death metal. Hanneman was also an underrated guitarist and lyricist who wrote some of the band's most notable songs.
4. Cliff Burton After Cliff Burton was killed when Metallica's bus flipped over in rural Sweden in 1986, his death not only shattered the rest of the band for a very long time, but it also struck a blow to the rising movement of thrash metal at high noon in its glory days. Most bassists stand behind the curtain and blend into the music, but Burton took more of a soloist's responsibility, in addition to keeping a rhythmic base with his bass.
3. Randy Rhoads Only two albums in with Ozzy, Randy Rhoads had barely scraped the surface of creating groundbreaking riffage. Rhoads's has to be one of the most unfortunate heavy-metal deaths: If Rhoads hadn't stepped into that small plane with the tour bus driver at the controls, the bus driver might not have attempted to dip down at 150 mph over the tour bus to scare the shit out of the rest of the band, and they wouldn't have clipped the bus, causing the plane to burst into flames and slam into a garage.
2. Ronnie James Dio If Dio would have died at 666 years old, it still would've been too soon. With mighty pipes and an impressive career spanning half a century, Dio should have been one of those musicians that alchemists and scientists experimented on to make him a wizard with a long lifespan for the sake of humanity.
1. "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott Fuck the motherfucking motherfucker who gunned down Dimebag, who was still highly influential and in the prime of his guitar-shredding life. This inexplicable violent act against Dimebag was the most abrupt, shocking and devastating death to have struck the metal community before or since. If you're raising a glass to him, make sure it's a Black Tooth Grin.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.