Not just a bassist, Gray was a founding member, creative force and primary songwriter of Slipknot’s music until he passed away tragically in 2010 at the all-too-soon age of 38.
Gray was long-open and candid with fans about his struggles with drug abuse and addiction, and these demons were what ended up ultimately taking his life (his cause of death was later revealed as an overdose of morphine and fentanyl).
His tragic passing shocked the metal community, leaving many to wonder how Slipknot would be able to carry on without him, given how instrumental Gray had been in writing many of their most classic songs and albums to that point.
Even Slipknot themselves wrestled with their fate. Per a conversation with Blunt Mag at the time, singer Corey Taylor lamented:
“Paul was such a big part of his band, not only as a major contributor and one of the quote-unquote chiefs, but he was also one of the biggest lovers of this band. There really was that question of do we want to continue [without Gray]?”
As they were long apt to do, though, Slipknot soldiered on, spitting in the face of adversity and leveraging despair and vitriol as creative fuel to create more amazing music.
In 2014, the band emerged with their fifth full-length album, aptly titled, .5: The Gray Chapter.
While more than one song understandably addresses Gray on the record, the song “Goodbye” in particular tackles the day of his death head on. Per Corey Taylor:
“It’s about the day we lost Paul. It’s specifically about sitting in my house two hours after we found out, just shell-shocked, completely numb, and then completely overwhelmed with what we were dealing with. It’s a heavy tune, and it’s on a whole other level for this band.”
Given the fraught emotional state that the band was in at the time, Slipknot member Clown actually panicked when he first heard the lyrics to “Goodbye”, mistakenly interpreting them as a resignation letter from Corey Taylor.
While track 13, “The Negative One” is a bit less direct and more shadowed in metaphor, Taylor explains that that track as well was about Gray, but specifically his own intense feelings of guilt for not being able to do more to save his fallen friend and bandmate:
“It’s about, ‘Why didn’t I think of something?’” he says. “‘Why didn’t I do something? Why didn’t I try to be a better friend, to be a better brother?’ You’ll keep yourself awake nights thinking that shit. You have to turn on yourself and go, ‘You can mourn this person. You can keep this person in your heart, but life is life. It’s just something that you can’t control.'”
Read the lyrics to “Goodbye” below, and Rest In Power Paul Gray.
Come on overCome unglued It's not easy To see all of you Help yourselves Help is on the way Well there's nothing to lose So now, I have something to say Maybe we can all recognize a moment of silence Maybe we can finally agree on a sane point of view Long time ago we believed that we were united So the last thing on Earth I am ready to do is say, goodbye A long time ago we discovered that nothing could stop us This hasn't torn us apart, so nothing ever will How can we know where we are if the sun is behind us But this moment will show us the rest of our lives No one is going to save us this time No one can know what we're feeling, in that I may trust