As reported by Rolling Stone, Cheng passed away early on April 13. Deftones have yet to make an official statement about his passing, but frontman Chino Moreno wrote, "Rest in peace Chi Cheng" on his Facebook page. Additionally, fellow rock artists like Slash and Tom Morello have sounded off on Twitter to offer their condolences.
Cheng had been with the band since before their 1995 debut, Adrenaline. Deftones had been deep into work on their follow-up to 2006's Saturday Night Wrist when Cheng's accident occurred, which caused the band to scrap those sessions and start fresh on a new album that became Diamond Eyes. During recent years, Sergio Vega had come on board to take Cheng's place in the studio and on stage, but there was no question how integral Cheng had been to the evolution of this band.
Ironically, it was Cheng's accident that made his bandmates recognize how important their camaraderie was. It was no secret that Saturday Night Wrist -- Cheng's last with the group -- was a difficult record for the band to make, but after Cheng slipped into a coma, Moreno told the Los Angeles Times, "The little things that were getting in the way of us being friends and having fun seemed minuscule compared to what just happened to us." No doubt it's a sad time for anyone who knew and loved Cheng.
Update: Stephen Carpenter, guitarist for the band, released a statement on the Deftones' official site on Monday. It said in part, "There are so many things I can say, and yet at this moment, none of it matters or compares to the loss everyone feels. There will be a hole in our lives where Chi once was. But that will be filled everyday with all of our love and memories we all have in our heart. He will always be here because of love."
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.