Via a recent conversation with The Metal Interview podcast, ex-Death member Kam Lee says that the late Chuck Schuldiner ripped off Possessed. Lee was part of an early version of Death known as Mantas.
Death is considered by many to be one of the most important bands in death metal history; they are considered one of the most influential metal bands ever, as well as pioneers of death metal. They released their debut LP Scream Bloody Gore in 1987. Chuck Schuldiner was the singer and a guitarist in Death; he sadly passed away on December 13th, 2001.
Another iconic death metal band is that of Possessed, who released their debut LP Seven Churches in 1985. And per this recent interview with ex-Death member Kam Lee, he says that not only did the late Chuck Schuldiner rip off Possessed, but he (Lee) was also not allowed to take part in a Death documentary because of this stance that he holds.
Lee’s opinion of Schuldiner comes up when, during the interview, he is asked his opinion on the first “true” death metal band. The following comes from Lee, talking about Chuck Schuldiner and him not taking part in the Death documentary (all transcribed by Blabbermouth):
“I’ll admit this, and I’ll say this straight out, ’cause I know there’s an argument all the time, who was first — was it Death or was it Possessed? Well, I will tell you Possessed was first, and I will tell you why. Because Chuck heard what Jeff was doing and Chuck wanted to emulate Jeff. I was there — I was there in the beginning.
“There was times when we were living here in Florida before Chuck moved to California, and Chuck and I both started off as tapetraders back in the day. And I remember, if you go back to before we were Death, we were called Mantas. If you look at some of the hand-drawn logos of Mantas, the Mantas logo, there’s the logo with the devil’s tail on it, on the ‘M’. That’s completely stolen from the original Possessed logo, the devil’s tail.
“I’ll say this now, ’cause [former Death manager] Eric Greif is passed, he’s deceased, but this is stuff that he didn’t want me to tell people. That’s why I was denied ever being interviewed for the Death movie, the Death documentary [‘Death By Metal’]. They denied me, because they didn’t want me to say these certain things, because how are you gonna sell a documentary about Death if I come on and tell everybody, ‘Nah, that’s not really how it was’? So they didn’t want me on there — they absolutely refused to talk to me on there.
“They didn’t want me to come up and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was the one that drew the Death logo, not Chuck.’ They didn’t want me to tell everybody I’m the one that created that. And they didn’t want me to tell everybody, ‘Oh, well, Chuck ripped off Possessed.’ They wanted to sell it like Chuck created it, because they were selling a product. And if you’ve got somebody come and say, ‘Well, that’s not exactly how that product works.’ Kind of like the [fast food chicken restaurant chain] KFC. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t [KFC founder] Colonel Sanders that came up with a special recipe; some other guy came up with it. So that’s really what it was.”
What do you make of everything Lee had to say? You can listen to the whole interview featuring Kam Lee below: