2018, like every year does, took some of the brightest and most influential talents from the rock and metal world in tragic fashion. Accidental deaths claimed beloved artists including the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan and Boston hardcore cornerstone Caleb Scofield (Cave In, Old Man Gloom), while others such as Huntress' Jill Janus died by suicide after battles with mental illness. Today we look back on some of the many notable musicians who passed away during the last 12 months, with an eye to the legacy they each left. Rest in peace.
The co-founding drummer of Texas metal stalwarts Pantera, as well as Southern-fried supergroup Hellyeah, Vinnie Paul died of coronary artery disease in his Las Vegas home at the age of 54 on June 22nd. After Pantera's early-Aughts split, he also co-founded Damageplan with his younger brother Dimebag Darrell, who was murdered onstage in 2004 at one of the band's shows. The two siblings are buried alongside their mother in Arlington, Texas. Paul performed just five days prior to his passing at The Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel and Resort.
Spanish tech-death outfit Wormed lost their virtuosic drum prodigy Guillermo Calero in early March due to unspecified reasons. He was just 27 and began his career with the band in 2014, appearing only on their most recent album, 2016's Krigshu. "Guille, where you are brother you will always be with us," said the band in a statement, "You have been and will always be part of our little family."
Drummer Dave "Scarface" Castillo, of death-metal stalwarts Deceased, died on November 13th at 43 years old, reportedly by accidental drowning. The band's singer King Fowley posted a lengthy tribute to his late musical partner, remembering that "he wanted it correct and not half-assed … it's how he did everything in life… Dave Castillo will always be remember as a great drummer, a great person, and a dear friend." The announcement of Castillo's death came just days before the release of Deceased's most recent album Ghostly White. The drummer also played in short-lived occult death-metal band October 31.
Motörhead's guitarist and the lone surviving member of the English thunder gods' classic power trio lineup died on January 10th of pneumonia. He left the band in 1982 and subsequently began work with Fastway for the next few years before embarking on a solo career. He reunited with Lemmy one last time in 2014 to play their penultimate classic "Ace of Spades" onstage, and contributed to 2017's Warfare album, which was a collaboration between Evo from the metal punk crossover act Warfare and Algy Ward of Tank.
Babymetal guitarist and renowned virtuoso Mikio Fujioka was just 36 years old when he died on January 5th from injuries he sustained after falling from an observation deck where he was stargazing. Affectionately referred to as Ko-Gami, or "The Small God," Fujioka also wrote for Young Guitar magazine, lectured at a Japanese music college and penned several guitar books.
All That Remains guitarist Oli Herbert died at 44 years old by apparent drowning on his own property. The noted shredder had been the only remaining original member of the metalcore band along with singer Phil Labonte, and played on all eight of the group's studio albums, including ATR's most recent, November's Victim of the New Disease, which was released shortly after his passing. In an interview with Revolver, Labonte remembered Herbert as a great musician and an intriguing character full of surprises. "Oli was so reserved," the singer said, "but at the same time just could at any moment bust out a big old karate kick in the air"
The original vocalist for Floridian-via-Buffalo death-metal crew Malevolent Creation, Bret Hoffman died at 51 after battling stage 4 colon cancer. The singer credited practicing Judas Priest and Iron Maiden songs for his distinct vocal delivery style. He also fronted bands Fire for Effect, Down the Drain, Resthaven, and South of Resthaven.
Huntress frontwoman Jill Janus died by suicide on August 14th at the age of 43, following a lifelong battle with mental illness. A statement by the band called Janus "a truly special creative involved with numerous musical projects including her role as vocalist for female metal/hard rock cover bands The Starbreakers and Chelsea Girls … Beyond her accomplishments in the music world and her advocacy for mental health issues, she was a beautiful person passionate about her family, animal rescue, and the world of natural medicine." Janus was working with Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Angus Clark on a rock opera at the time of her death.
Deeds of Flesh guitarist and Unique Leader Records founder Erik Lindmark died of sclerosis in late November at age 46 after a long fight with the disease, which results in the stiffening of body tissues. He left instructions that his influential label should go on without him during his last days alive in the hospital. One act he helped break, Fallujah, stated, "He took a chance on Fallujah when we were still in school working on what would become The Harvest Wombs. We, and the west coast death-metal scene along with a lot of other bands you all know and love, owe a lot of their early careers to Erik and Unique Leader." Lindmark is survived by his wife and their five-year-old daughter Bella.
The original vocalist for Tennessee nu-metal band and Ozzfest vets Primer 55, Jason Luttrell died August 10th after battling Hepatitis C for several years. He was best known for singing on the 2000 single "Loose" off the group's major label debut, Introduction to Mayhem. His former bandmates addressed his passing on Facebook, saying, "We had many great years of friendship and many good times both on the road and off. May god now have his soul to hold."
Josh Martin was the guitarist in highly controversial grindcore act Anal Cunt from 1996 to 2001 and rejoined in 2006 until the band's dissolution in 2011 following the death of singer and founder Seth Putnam. Aside from offending the moral majority with his band's absurdist politically incorrect screeds, Martin did several stints in jail before falling to his death from a Rhode Island mall escalator in May 28th at the age of 45.
Known for her iconic haunting wails in one of Ireland's biggest rock groups the Cranberries, singer Dolores O'Riordan died suddenly in January at age 46 by accidental drowning caused by sedation from alcohol intoxication. Nineties hits like "Linger" and "Dreams" thrust O'Riordan into the spotlight, and a successful solo career would follow. At the time of her death, she was in London to record a cover of her band's 1994 classic "Zombie" with hard-rock outfit Bad Wolves. She left behind three children.
We Came As Romans co-vocalist and keyboard player Kyle Pavone died in August from an accidental drug overdose at age 28. His bandmates quickly rallied to set up the Kyle Pavone Foundation in his memory, which aims to aid artists in their search for treatment with mental health issues and addiction, saying in a statement, "The opposite of addiction is connection. If you are feeling disconnected or lost, there is help. Please take action, whether that is talking to your families or friends, meeting with a counselor, or joining a support group." An all-star October memorial concert, which raised funds for the foundation, featured appearances by members of August Burns Red, Memphis May Fire, I Prevail, Set It Off and more.
Ohio death-metal outfit Necrophagia's founder, vocalist and sole constant member Frank "Killjoy" Pucci passed away suddenly in an emergency room on March 18th at the age of 51. In addition to spearheading one of the very first bands in the death-metal genre, the prolific Pucci was a noted partner in crime to Pantera singer Phil Anselmo, collaborating with him in the re-formed Necrophagia, as well as in several side acts including Viking Crown and Eibon. Killjoy also fronted numerous other extreme-metal groups including the Ravenous, Wurdulak, Forlis and Enoch.
With bands such as Deicide, Iced Earth and Obituary on his résumé, guitarist Ralph Santolla left his mark on heavy metal before his death at age 51 following a heart attack on May 30th that left him in a coma. After he was taken off life support on June 6th, his mother told fans via Facebook "There are no words that can express that could tell you how I feel. Ralph was my life, my soul, my everything." The proud Italian-American was known not only for his impeccable shredding skills, but also for playing guitars bearing the image of the Italian flag.
Bassist and vocalist Caleb Scofield was a mainstay of the Boston hardcore/metal scene, playing in groups including Cave In, Old Man Gloom and Zozobra. Scofield died on March 28th after his truck crashed into a concrete barrier and caught fire. His tragic death at just 39 years old spurred an acoustic tribute performed by Cave In's Stephen Brodsky and Adam McGrath at the 2018 Roadburn festival, and subsequent benefit shows for Scofield's family, held in Boston and Los Angeles, featuring sets by Converge, OMG, the reunited members of ISIS and a plugged-in incarnation of Cave In, with Converge's Nate Newton handling bass duties. Scofield is survived by his wife and two children.
Founder and lead guitarist of proto-metal outfit Manilla Road, Mark "The Shark" Shelton died at age 60 of a heart attack. While the band's early material was inspired by the progressive rock of the time, they evolved in a heavier direction before taking a break in the 1990s and returning in the early Aughts, creating music up until 2017's To Kill a King. Shelton's death came just a few hours after he performed with the group at the Headbanger Open Air Festival in Germany.
Prolific British post-punks the Fall lost their only constant member, singer Mark E. Smith, in January when he died at home following an extended battle with lung and kidney cancer. Heavy smoking contributed to his health's decline, resulting in the subversive frontman performing several 2017 shows from a wheelchair. His band was known for their frequent lineup and stylistic changes, characterized by Smith's utter abhorrence for stagnation. His last years were marked by a disdain for the trend-hopping capriciousness of the music industry.
Best known for his guitar work in NYHC acts Warzone, Murphy's Law and Agnostic Front, as well as his playing with Danzig and Samhain, Todd Youth died at home on October 27th at 47 years old. He left behind a resonate legacy that, outside of hardcore and metal, includes stints with Glen Campbell, Cheap Trick and more. He is survived by his three daughters who, following his death, spread his ashes under the Hare Krishna tree in Tompkins Square Park and in the holy Yamuna River in India.
Seth Howard, drummer of rising Florida post-hardcore act Yashira, died on December 29th following a car accident. The 24-year-old musician was a founding member of Yashira, and played on their critically acclaimed 2018 debut Shrine — an adventurous album whose maelstrom of riffs were simultaneously kept in check and made even more dynamic because of Howard's relentless drum blasts.