On Saturday night word got out that Chi Cheng, bassist for the Deftones, had passed away. After a car accident in 2008 left him in a "partially conscious state", his heart gave out at 3am on Saturday.
The news came to me while I was out for the night via a text from my cousin, and then the messages started pouring in. While the news is extremely sad, I'm also pleasantly surprised by all the posts and photos from people I never realized were fans - and maybe they aren't even fans of just his music.
When I met him many years ago, he immediately struck me as a kind soul. In a mere few minutes of conversation, he spoke to my friend and I as though we weren't just obsessed teenage fans begging for autographs. And as he signed his spoken-word album for my friend, he commented on the woman displayed on the cover and how beautiful she was. She was his wife at the time, and he spoke sweetly about her. No rockstar ego, no annoyance at us... he was just a nice guy.
I suppose I want to get across a certain idea about Chi - that he wasn't just a bassist, and not just a member of the Deftones. He was a poet, a Buddhist, a father, and so much more than we knew. He was a real person beyond his music. Sometimes we forget that about the musicians we adore.
Rest in peace, Chi. Your fans will never forget you.