Metal Hammer (UK)

Paul GRAY dies (may 2010)

The Slipknot bassist’s sudden passing shocked metal’s most passionate fanbase and changed the band forever


“Yesterday we lost our brother, and the world seems a little smaller because of it.” So began one of the most harrowing eight minutes of video any metal fan had thus far witnessed, as Slipknot held an emotional press conference to confirm the news that had broken the previous day: bassist and co-founding member Paul Gray had passed away at the age of 38. “He had the biggest heart of anyone I’d ever known”, continued Corey Taylor, “and he had the greatest soul I’ve ever had the privilege to know. He was everything that was wonderful about this band and this group of people.”

Paul had died in his hotel room after overdosing on morphine, only five months after Avenged Sevenfold drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan had died under similar circumstan­ces. For the second time in what seemed like no time at all, the metal world had lost one of its most beloved sons in the most tragic of circumstan­ces.

While both his bandmates and Slipknot’s fiercely passionate fanbase were left reeling by the news, Paul Gray’s death wasn’t just impactful on an emotional level. On the face of it, he was one of the band’s more understate­d members, but the fact was that he was a vital part of the creative process that had made Slipknot one of the biggest metal bands in the world.

“In the beginning, there was this idea that was created by Paul and I”, explained Clown to Metal Hammer in 2011, ramming home how important Paul was to the band from the very start. “He wrote the kind of music that just made me want to put my face through glass.” “Paul was always that unconsciou­s lynchpin that held everything together”, added Corey. “He had such a great mind for the music that we created.”

Indeed, his writing credits were dotted across all four studio albums they had released to that point. The sudden loss of his presence boded for an uncertain future when it came to the band’s next steps – so much so, in fact, that it would be another six years before Slipknot felt ready to put a new studio album out into the world, the tellingly titled .5: The Gray Chapter.

Before that, there was the emotional set at the UK’S Sonisphere Festival in July 2011, where the remaining eight members – plus original guitarist Donnie Steel, filling in on bass – paid tribute to their fallen brother. Following a two-minute silence held across the site earlier in the day, the band would gather onstage at the end of their set, huddled around Paul’s mask and boiler suit in front of a teary, onlooking crowd. It represente­d a moment of catharsis for band and audience alike: a chance for everyone to openly grieve, together, for an artist who had done so much for one of metal’s very greatest bands.

Almost 10 years on from his passing, Paul’s influence on Slipknot remains as deep as ever as they continue to blaze a trail in his honour.

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