The Talkhouse - In Memoriam by Liam Wilson of Dillinger Escape Plan
January 25, 2014
Chi Cheng (1970-2013)
Although it was a head-on collision back in 2008 that left Deftones bassist Chi Cheng in a semi-conscious state of semi-improvements and setbacks, it wasn’t until April of 2013 that he passed, leaving many feeling like they had lost him twice. I never had the pleasure of meeting Chi, so admittedly I feel a bit uncomfortable eulogizing him as if I had. However, while on tour opening for the Deftones post-accident, the band and crew would often fill space with personal stories about Chi, sharing a deeper sense of his still-water vibe and crunchy ethics — reasons why we supposedly should have been fast friends beyond our basic bass-brotherhood — and for that I feel a personal loss. It’s not an ideal way to get to know someone by retracing their negative spaces; to have only gathered an abstract awareness of Chi’s on- and off-stage presence through these fingerprinted moments was bittersweet. It was also hard to avoid equally candid conversation with his succeeding bassist Sergio Vega about the awkward baggage associated with joining our respective bands, and how our lives were made more fortunate as the result of someone else’s sudden and tragic misfortune — it was an injury suffered in a car accident almost 16 years ago that left Dillinger Escape Plan’s original bassist, Adam Doll, partially paralyzed and consequently opened a door for me. The overarching impression I got of Chi was that of a good Samaritan whose love for all was most clearly manifested through his charitable works, and in turn, the response from those whose lives he affected when a charity was set up for his needs. Ultimately Chi’s legacy stands as a testament to the notion that it’s the relationships we cultivate both locally and globally, and the creative energy we focus on doing greater good that defines us, and the space we hold when we’re gone.