Here’s some food for thought: did Chuck Biscuits himself perpetrate the entire Great Chuck Biscuits Death Hoax of 2009, chuckling under his breath as he hosed me for six months and then laughing heartily as the world mourned his passing two weeks ago?
I have no idea, but that very notion was suggested to me by someone close to Chuck the Monday after the whole mess erupted. This particular person, someone who has known Chuck since long before he was in Danzig, told me that firstname.lastname@example.org is in fact the drummer’s personal e-mail address, that the text of the messages I was sent match Chuck’s writing style, and that it was absolutely him in the picture I posted back in May. Their theory as to why Chuck would do something like this? They figured it was just his super crazy way of reinserting himself into the pop culture landscape.
While this was interesting and somewhat relieving to hear, I took it with a grain of salt. This person could be hoaxing me as well, I thought. So I decided to sit on this strange theory for a little while and see what developed.
It’s been over a week, and guess what? Nothing has happened. No hoaxers have come forward, no one has pointed me in the direction of other possible suspects, Chuck himself has not released any kind of statement – heck, Chuck hasn’t even e-mailed me to complain about my “lousy journalism”/ask where I was getting my info from/figure out who was impersonating him and his wife. If I were in his position, I’d really want to figure out who was using my identity and why they were sending pictures of me around and why they were pretending I was dying of throat cancer. If email@example.com is Chuck’s address, if that picture is him and he didn’t do this, well, that’s pretty worrying RE: personal security.
It also strikes me as rather curious that the person who confirmed Chuck’s non-death to the world was, in the end, his estranged brother Bob and not himself or his wife, Lauren. The fact that I knew Lauren’s name, the fact that she was the person I was supposedly receiving updates on Chuck’s health (and the news of his eventual “death”) from, is what spurned Bob to drive several hours from his home in Canada to Seattle to investigate his brother’s alleged passing. Below is a copy of the e-mail Bob sent me regarding these facts:
Lauren, whose name I was protecting when this story broke because I knew it was the one true and legitimate piece of personal Chuck Biscuits info I had, only mailed me once about all this, from a different address than the one I had previously received messages from. All she asked was why I thought Chuck was dead. I explained my side of things to her and never heard back from her. Below, a copy of that correspondence:
Sure, other noted sources eventually piped up concerning Chuck’s undoubted alivedness, like his former band mates Joe Keithley (publicly) and Eerie Von (via e-mail to me), but doesn’t it seem kind of odd that Chuck’s wife would contact me and, rather than confirm that her husband is alive, ask me why I think he’s dead? This is the guy’s wife – surely she knows if he’s alive or dead. Unless, perhaps, she was in on the hoax?
Now, look – I’m not saying there’s a specific way for people to handle their own death hoax. I’m also not saying Chuck Biscuits and/or his wife definitely did this shit; the only source I have on that is off the record, my personal rock n’ roll Deep Throat, if you will. However, I am saying there’s a lot of stuff here that doesn’t quite add up, and I don’t think it’s completely outrageous to suggest Chuck Biscuits may have somehow been involved in this odd publicity stunt.
For the sake of posterity, below I’ve posted screen caps of three of the original e-mails I received from “Chuck”/”Lauren” before “he” faked his death and then reemerged (apologies for the blurriness and poor cropping; I failed Photoshop 101):
The “inquiries” mentioned in the second e-mail refer to a series of interview questions I had sent “Chuck.” Did Chuck Biscuits fake his death to avoid completing this interview? Let’s remember – this man collects cereal and retained the surname “Biscuits” when he joined Danzig.
Stay tuned for any further developments, folks. Thanks to everyone who has supported me during this utterly bizarre incident. To those who still think this is just another example of some uneducated blogger not getting his facts straight or some wanna-be Internet celebrity fabricating a story for blog hits, I really don’t know what to say. Jon Gosselin is way higher than Chuck Biscuits on Google Trends, and if you can figure out the current address/place of employment/cell phone provider/shoe size of another rogue 1980s rock drummer (say Joey Image or Arthur Googy), I will personally buy you dinner at Arby’s.
Two independent sources have suggested to me off record who the mastermind of the Great Chuck Biscuits Death Hoax of 2009 just might be; since I’m not in a theorizin’ mood this morning (and most of you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you anyway), I’ll just give you the still entirely valid and working e-mail addresses of the “Chuck” that was contacting me and encourage you to drop him/her a line:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Maybe write something along the lines of, “Hey, what you did was really messed up. You upset a lot of people. What gives, hoaxer?” and see if they reply. Who knows? You might be the person they finally decide to fess up to!
In other news, Glenn Danzig is still crazy short.
And it seems it was all just a cruel, cruel hoax: legendary hard rock drummer Chuck Biscuits, whom this blog eulogized Tuesday after receiving a death notice that allegedly came from his wife, is apparently still among the living.
“I just wanted to let you know that Chuck [Biscuits] is alive and as well as can be expected,” said Bob Montgomery, Chuck’s brother, in an e-mail sent to the author earlier today. “I drove to his home in Seattle [from Canada] to confirm that fact.”
Suspicions rose almost immediately after heavy metal website Blabbermouth.net picked up the news of Chuck’s death from this blog yesterday and made it viral, as Bob and at least one of Chuck’s former band mates had heard nothing of the former Danzig drummer’s passing. After a brief e-mail exchange with JG2Land, Bob Montgomery decided to physically visit his brother to find out the truth once and for all.
“The only reason I put any stock in the Internet rumours was because [James Greene, Jr.] used Chucks wife’s name [in private e-mails],” Bob wrote after his visit to Chuck’s house. “Otherwise, I would have filed it under the African ruler looking for money to enlarge his penis file. I am really curious as to who’s been sending [him] this info.”
In May of 2009, JG2Land received an e-mail that ostensibly came from Chuck Biscuits, who appeared to be using an e-mail address that bore his wife’s real name. The message, which was a response to an article JG2 had authored for Crawdaddy.com entitled “An Open Letter To Chuck Biscuits,” found “Chuck” announcing that he was “awake and rotting twice to the gut in the land of flanneled, tree-huggin’ bunny-fuckers.” The drummer also offered himself up for an interview.
Subsequent communication with this apparently false Chuck Biscuits revealed that he was afflicted with throat cancer and could no longer speak. In July, a message signed with the initials of Chuck’s wife was sent that announced the founding D.O.A. member was in the hospital, his condition deemed “inoperable and terminal according to his care givers” and that “alternative therapies” were being explored. Communication dried up until October 26, when an e-mail was sent announcing that Chuck had passed two days earlier:
“In response to the inquires, thank you for all the support. Chuck did not survive his battle with throat cancer. He passed surrounded by his family on 10/24/09.”
It is currently unknown who exactly is responsible for perpetrating this hoax, nor what their motivations were.
In response to the avalanche of criticism, comments, and questions JG2Land is now currently receiving thanks to this debacle, I wish to state the following: it stings bitterly to know that my communication with Chuck Biscuits, a talent I have long admired, and his wife was all a scam. After all the highs and lows I felt on this six month journey, to have it end like this is just sickening.
I never had any reason to distrust the people in question. No serious flags were raised. Who would pretend to be a dying hard rock drummer for a half a year? There was no monetary gain, and I have no journalistic stature. There seemed to be no angle for this, other than to hurt and embarrass me (mission accomplished). Thus, I took these people at their word.
When I received the e-mail about Chuck’s passing, it hit me in the gut. I was reeling. I decided to write a succinct but heartfelt blog announcing the news Tuesday and that would be the end of it. The news would get around and the world could mourn the loss of the best hard rock drummer of the 1980s. That this could all be some insane prank was the furthest thing from my mind.
I can understand why some people would want to try to ruin my reputation or make me look like a complete asshole lacking journalistic integrity, but I cannot fathom why anyone would want to trick thousands of Chuck’s fans into a false state of grief. That is the real crime here. Reading some of those early comments about fans’ memories of Chuck is especially heart-breaking now. Were these people laughing at those memories? Because I was fighting back tears.
Although I flunked out of the journalism program at the University of Central Florida, I know the rules and I follow them. I fact-check to the best of my ability. I never falsify quotes unless I’m writing an obvious parody or joke. I do thorough research and I try to protect my sources because I don’t entirely believe in this burgeoning “show us everything you got” style of Gen Y reporting. If I had any reason to believe the “Chuck Biscuits” I was talking to was full of shit, I would have put him through the wringer.
That said, I think it’s rather telling that Bob Montgomery couldn’t comment on the state of his own brother without driving several hours to see him in the flesh. The real Chuck Biscuits fell off grid a decade ago, and he’s clearly worked a bit to have things stay that way. I’m not knocking that at all. I’m just saying…I couldn’t verify anything about the real Chuck Biscuits a year ago when I began research for a retrospective piece about his career (which eventually morphed into the much shorter and tongue-in-cheek “Open Letter” piece). One person mailed me back. It took a fake death story to get anyone to confirm that he lived in Seattle.
I’m sorry I unknowingly spread this horrible lie. I apologize to the world, Chuck’s family, Chuck’s friends, and especially Chuck.
P.S. – Concerning Chuck’s contributions to Tougher Than Leather – again, researched to best of my ability, and if you’re familiar with the album and Chuck’s playing style, there’s no reason to seriously question it. Of course it could be a lie, but it could also be 100% true.
[UPDATE #3: CHUCK BISCUITS ALIVE? An e-mail I just received at 6:34 PM EST:
“Dear James Greene,
This note is on behalf of Bob Montgomery, who ask me (his wife) to let you know that CHUCK IS ALIVE. Bob is on his way to see him now and will send you a follow up email in the near future. Thank you for taking the time to reply to Bob’s email this morning.
Case closed? Not until I figure out who the hell was e-mailing me for six months pretending to be Chuck and his wife. A “full disclosure” post regarding my side of this whole mess is coming shortly.]
[UPDATE #2: Further e-mails have been exchanged with Chuck’s brother Bob Montgomery; after I confirmed the name of Chuck’s wife via two independent sources, Bob wrote:
“Chuck and I have been somewhat estranged for a time, but this seems fishy. I am going to his home to get to the bottom of this, I will let you know one way or the other. If this is a hoax, I will pop Chuck in his beak. I am allowed. He is my little brother.”
The investigation continues. At this point, I don’t know whom to believe.]
[UPDATE: Rumors are beginning to swirl that this is some kind of elaborate hoax. If so, I can assure you I am NOT in on it. I have previously chronicled my contact with Chuck / person(s) claiming to be Chuck(?) and never had any reason to disbelieve their claims.
Since this post went viral, however, several people (including former Danzig bassist Eerie Von and Chuck’s brother Bob Montgomery) have openly questioned his death. All I can tell you is I’ve been communicating with two people since May I was always 99.999% sure were THE Chuck Biscuits and his wife from e-mail addresses bearing their names. They never asked me to wire money to a Nigerian prince or adopt their child, so I took it all at face value.
Chuck’s wife is allegedly the one who has been sending out mass e-mails about Chuck’s condition to family and friends; I didn’t use her name below because I didn’t know if she’d be comfortable with that and it didn’t seem like a good time to bring it up, considering her husband was dying. I’m still not going to use her name on the same grounds.
Although I can’t imagine why a former member of Danzig would want to fake his own death via the Internet, I know plenty of people who severely dislike me and would take any chance they could to play on my gullibility to make me look as stupid as possible (i.e. e-mail me for six months pretending to be a dying drummer I admire). If this is all a big fat lie, I’m sorry, but I promise I was duped just as hard as you.]
Legendary hard rock drummer Chuck Biscuits, whose lengthy résumé included stints in such flagship underground acts as Black Flag and Social Distortion, died Saturday after a prolonged battle with throat cancer. He was 44.
“In response to the inquires, thank you for all the support,” an anonymous family member wrote in an e-mail sent this morning. “Chuck did not survive his battle with throat cancer. He passed surrounded by his family on 10/24/09.”
Chuck Biscuits was probably best known to the general populous for his work with Danzig. Beginning in 1988, Chuck played on that group’s first four albums, which are often hailed as Danzig’s best (thanks in no small part to Chuck’s powerful drumming style). The percussionist also appeared on 1993’s Thrall: Demonsweatlive EP; that release yielded an unexpected chart-burning hit for Danzig in “Mother,” a song the band originally included on their self-titled debut.
Yet Chuck Biscuits was not completely bound by the shackles of heavy metal / hard rock—the drummer kindly lent his talents to various tracks on Run-D.M.C.’s fourth album, 1988’s Tougher Than Leather. Leather boasted a handful of hits for the famed Hollis Crew, including “Mary, Mary” and “Beats To The Rhyme.”
Born Charles Montgomery on April 17, 1965, in British Columbia, Chuck Biscuits cut his teeth with Canadian hardcore outfit D.O.A. before relocating to California in 1982 and joining Black Flag. Biscuits left that group after five months of touring and began bouncing around from band to band, clocking time with classic punk acts such as the Circle Jerks, Fear, and the Weirdos. It wasn’t long before Chuck made a name for himself in the rock underground with his utterly ferocious yet completely accurate attack; he was rumored to be at the top of Nirvana’s drummer “wish list” in the days prior to Dave Grohl.
The last major group Chuck played with was Social Distortion, beginning in 1996. He appeared on only one of their releases, 1998’s Live At The Roxy, before promptly leaving the band a year later. It is unknown whether the drummer’s throat cancer played a part in that departure.
Outside of music, Chuck Biscuits was a known lover of art who spent some time in the late 1980s sculpting and attending college art classes. Biscuits also enjoyed vintage breakfast cereal collecting; one Danzig home video release tagged Chuck as a “Professor of Cerealogy, PhD.” in a segment wherein the drummer expounded upon his love of sugary morning delights (“It’s a very expensive habit…once you’ve had Boo Berry, there’s no turning back.”)
“Chuck was one of the best of the original wave of punk drummers,” Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson said in brief e-mail exchange with the author last year. “His style was easily recognizable, and he seemed to have just a ton of extra energy when playing drums. He is one of those people who did not have to practice a lot to play really well.”
“It came very natural to him,” Stevenson continued. “He was hugely influential without really being as ‘famous’ as drummers who were actually much less influential musically.”
It is unknown exactly who Chuck is survived by, but they will surely miss him, as will an entire generation of rock n’ roll fans.