Known to many as the founding father of death metal, Chuck Schuldiner's brand of heavy metal opened the doors for a genre that had only been hinted at by efforts from Slayer and Venom. Beginning Death in 1985, the first few demos that leaked out of his Florida home created a strong buzz in the underworld. By 1987 he had managed to release his first album, Scream Bloody Gore, a landmark moment in death metal. Much like Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails, Death was merely a name given to his efforts to create the illusion of a band. The other members continually changed, and the band was so influential that entire careers were built out of stints in his touring and recording lineups. He had a very fruitful career working in the metal underground, releasing album after album of brutal death metal as the genre grew up around him. Known for his intense, technically sound playing skills, he managed to be one of the few survivors of the genre's fading popularity during the mid-'90s.
As the decade wound down, Schuldiner received the unfortunate news that he had a brain tumor. Death disbanded and he tried to get treatment, but mounting medical bills and a distinct lack of funds despite his years of making music began to take its toll on him. In a show of support virtually unheard of in the metal world, hundreds of musicians began to flock to his aid, holding benefit concerts and selling items online in hopes of helping Schuldiner pay for his treatments. Schuldiner recorded a new album during this period, but at the last minute he decided not to resurrect the Death name and released it under the telling name of Control Denied. His condition worsened, and by 2001 he was bedridden and being taken care of by his mother. Rock artists as diverse as Dave Grohl, Napalm Death, Ozzy Osbourne, and Anthrax stepped up the efforts to earn Schuldiner more money for his medical bills; Grohl even tried to involve him on a metal album he was putting together. But on December 13, 2001, Schuldiner passed away in the afternoon. Perhaps the most appropriate tribute to his lasting influence occurred in the next few weeks, as his official website was flooded with over 14,000 tributes and postings despite virtually no mainstream media sources bothering to report his death.