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Slipknot Bassist Paul Gray Dead at 38

Paul Gray, bassist and founding member of the Grammy award winning band Slipknot, was found dead at a hotel in his hometown of Des Moines Iowa. The cause of death is under investigation.

Mr. Gray, 38, had admitted to problems with drugs after he crashed his red Porsche in 2003. He entered a plea agreement with authorities and prosecutors dropped the charges against him of possession of marijuana, cocaine and syringes.

Slipknot is a heavy metal band best known for its intense, thrashing style of play, macabre masks, and visceral stage antics.

During concerts, the band has been known to spray sparks from a hot chainsaw onto their fans which are affectionately known as "maggots."

A 2000 article from the Des Moines Register sums up their style pretty well: "Less glamorous than Kiss, not as cartoonish as Gwar, and more intense than Nine Inch Nails."

Their controversial music has also been credited for inciting heinous crimes. In 2003, a pair of young men were charged with murder and prosecutors claimed their act was inspired by Slipknot's music.

The lyrics to the band's song "surfacing" were left at the site of a 2006 grave robbing in Kansas.

Known in the metal band as "No. 2" and "the pig," Mr. Gray wore a black mask on stage with a porcine nose and metal bars over the opening for his mouth.

In 1995, Mr. Gray co-founded the band with Shawn Crahan, known in the band as "No. 6" and for his distinctive clown mask. Crahan is the band's creative percussionist (a baseball bat and an empty beer keg is his signature instrument).

The band was first known as "Meld," and after they recruited more members became a nine piece group and took on the name Slipknot. Their first full length album "Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat." was released on Halloween in 1996.

Three years later they released their first official album on Roadrunner records, and the band quickly gained a large following as the new voice of adolescent angst. They have since released four more albums.

Despite the band's success---a Grammy award in 2006 for best Metal performance, and tens of millions of records sold---Mr. Gray said the band has kept a low key presence off stage.

He once said because of their masks most of the band's fans don't even recognize them in public.

"When we started this, we never expected to set forth to making Slipknot what it is today," Mr. Gray told the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle in 2009 on the 10th anniversary of their first album. "It's amazing to be where we're at. It's thanks to the fans and support that we get. It's amazing to be able to make a living doing music, amazing to me, so I'm happy and excited about it---I'm proud of the last 10 years and decade."

By T. Rees Shapiro  |  May 25, 2010; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Musicians  | Tags: Paul Gray; Paul Gray and died; Paul Gray and Slipknot; Slipknot; heavy metal; Nine Inch Nails; Gwar  
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