Obituary: Chuck Mosley (1959-2017)

Chuck Mosley – who died unexpectedly yesterday, age 57 – was a mess of contradictions.

He was an L.A. rock star and a Midwestern underground icon. He was audacious, yet amazingly self-conscious and self-effacing. His greatest work was behind him – Faith No More’s still-engaging Introduce Yourself, on which he sang in 1987, introduced him to the world and sold millions – and, if you believed that tugging aspiration behind his hoarse voice, it stood ahead of him and beckoned him onward, too. (In March, he played me excellent scratch tracks from Primitive Race’s Soul Pretender, which received glowing reviews just one week before his death, and was a kind ourobóros to his comeback story.)

For many, Chuck was the voice of Faith No More during its incubation, when it found its voice, when the guys hit their stride. But he later went on to release great music of note with Cement, tour with hardcore legends Bad Brains, and record excellent, if overlooked, “solo” outings with VUA. Today, we memorialize him. But it’s not the last we’ve heard from him. A Popdose article earlier this year rekindled contact between Chuck and producer Matt Wallace, a Faith No More standby; the two recorded several songs in Los Angeles with Chuck’s band during his recent “Reintroduce Yourself” tour. Chuck also talked about releasing a CD/DVD package with live cuts from an acoustic tour in the U.K. in 2016. All of it remains on the radar.

Chuck was an addict. Substance abuse had its hooks in him and anyone who watched him chain-smoke a pack of Marlboro Blacks could see it. He was sober for years, but he was always an addict. We talked about it at length this spring when I spent time with him at his Cleveland home, and I had to be careful about how I worded his experiences with drugs and what, if any, effect it had on his acrimonious firing from Faith No More when the band sat on the cusp on international superstardom.

I saw Chuck, again, his dreadlocks now dyed hot-pink, on tour when he came to Pittsburgh recently – I wrote my second piece on him of 2017 previewing the show in Pittsburgh CityPaper, in which he talked about memorializing a friend who recently died – and I could tell the road was weighing on him. I didn’t talk about it that night with Doug Esper, his friend and confidante, but the way Chuck vocally longed on-stage for a shot and a beer – “the strongest one they have” – echoed our conversations about substance abuse in Cleveland. Though I was really shaken by his family’s announcement today, I can’t say I’m entirely surprised.

Chuck wasn’t the best singer – though, in recent years, wearing his age well, his rusty croon developed a life of its own – but he was an incredible frontman and he knew how to read a crowd. He was bombastic. He did everything big. He lived by the seat of his pants. And, despite all the critical oohs and ahhs for Mike Patton, his Faith No More replacement, over the years, Chuck went out a well-loved critical darling.

I ended my piece on Chuck back in March with a look to the future, which, despite the adversities he faced, Chuck always plunged into headfirst.

“I was only ever focused on music basically. And girls. And skating. I split my focuses around. But I never became responsible, put away for a rainy day, ‘build a nest egg for your kids.’ That’s my one regret,” said Mosley, slipping into the tone he might adopt for the book he’s working on with Esper. “The book’s gonna be a tell-all but we don’t have the exact ending yet. I’ll either end up in prison or happily whistling down the road with playing shows. Hopefully, God forbid, it shouldn’t end with my death. The consensus has always been that I’m gonna be the one that hangs out longer than everybody.”

Today, we found out the end of Esper’s book. And we all wish we could rescript it.

Rest in peace, brother. – Popdose, Nov. 10, 2017


About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.