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.