Nothing brings Nietzsche’s theory of death consciousness into sharp focus like an un-expected death of a close friend or relative. On Saturday morning I awoke to the tragic news that original Faith No More front man Chuck Mosley had died at the age of 57. I first met Chuck and the rest of Faith No More when I was employed as their tour manger, sound engineer, driver and companion on their first European tour back in 1988. At the time I was a 25-year-old hot shot, up and coming tour manger/sound engineer with lots of connections. Two days before meeting the band for the first time, I received a panicked early morning phone call from Faith No More’s booking agent, Derek, in London. There was a massive cock-up. The band were in mid-flight on the ‘red-eye’ from California to London Heathrow (LHR) airport with no one there to meet them on their first tour of the UK and Europe. Luckily I cleared my schedule, jumped in a van for a five-hour drive to LHR to meet a band I’ve never even heard of, never mind seen, before. Obviously the agency was not making Faith No More a very high priority at this point in their career.
Initially there was some slapstick hilarity at the airport when I mistook a vicar with a school choir for Faith No More. The ‘Faith’ bit confused me as I thought they might be religious, thank God they weren’t. Confusion rectified and I am en-route to the infamous Columbia rock ‘n’ roll Hotel on London’s Bayswater road with the band. The following day, January 22nd 1988, Faith No More (FNM) hit the United Kingdom live scene for the first time. The tiny venue was Dingwalls in Camden, London. It was in fact the first time FNM had played outside of the United States. This show was the first date of a European tour that ended seven months later in July that year. I did not know it at the time but it was to be Chuck Mosley’s last tour with the FNM as he and the band would part ways shorty after the tour ended.
Those seven months on the first FNM tour was hard work, but fun. I watched the band develop musically and creatively while devouring the sights and sounds of Europe. As with any bunch of mid-twenty year olds cooped up for long periods of time in a van and cramped cheap hotels there were disagreements, jokes, name-calling, practical jokes, happiness, homesickness and not much sleep. We played every small live music toilet venue going and built a loyal fan base. The process of commodification had begun Faith No More were going through the process of turning an un-known band into a global brand. In business speak the band’s early fans were their investors. Even at this preliminary stage I could see the small cracks appearing between this diaspora of individual band co-creators. Each member of the band had a different version of the ‘finished’ FNM product. Chuck took the most hedonistic and reckless view; to him this was all very punk rock. It might not last long, so lets have some fun and lots of it.
With Chuck, drugs and alcohol fuelled a big part in his reckless enjoyment on this first tour. He enjoyed the different cultures of each country we visited and survived those long endless drives in the cramped old van with raucous good humour. As with any bunch of strong willed individuals brought together in very confined spaces in unusual circumstances there was going to be friction. One of the reasons for this tour was to “stress test the product” and check its integrity before a full commitment of investment was made by the international record company. Ultimately this ‘beta test’ product failed the stress test because by the end of the tour in July the tiny fractures were now full-blown canyons. Tension between all band members was high but especially so between guitarist Jim Martin and Chuck Mosley. I remember a huge fistfight between these two at Zurich airport, which finished with them on the baggage carousel, resulting in Jim breaking a couple of fingers. From this point onwards Chuck’s day with Faith No More were numbered. Upon their return to the USA, and the start of their third studio album ‘The Real Thing’, Chuck was unceremoniously fired.
Paul Simon famously sang, rather insipidly, that there are fifty ways to leave a lover but this is pure song writing shtick, there are actually only two. The first is to realise that there is a problem and that the relationship is troublesome, dysfunctional, has probably run its course and is over. Time for both parities to be honest with each other, explicate the issues in a mature, rational and kindly fashion and then depart with everyone’s dignity intact. Or you could do it the Chuck Mosley way by behaving with increasing self-indulgent discourtesy, twattery and bellendry until everyone around looses their patience and ditches you. This method, normally perused semi-wittingly by people not entirely certain with what they want from life, has the bonus of subsequently allowing the person to feel self–righteously aggrieved by the sacking, almost as if it wasn’t their fault. Mosley sued Faith No More after his firing, claiming a partnership stake in the band, and they settled out of court.
After that, Mosley spent a couple of years singing for a later version of the legendary hard-core band Bad Brains (1990 to 1992). He also formed the funk-metal band Cement and released a couple of albums in the mid-’90s. From time to time I’d run into Chuck, who was always polite, courteous and he appeared genuinely pleased to see me. We’d often chat backstage or in a hotel bar over a few beers. After Chuck’s departure, Faith No More would continue morphing into a global commodity with further sacking and replacements until they achieved global recognition with the 1992 album Angel Dust, which sold by the truckload. I survived until the Phoenix Festival on 20th July 1997 when I was asked/told to move on. Almost a decade with a band is a long time, probably too long. Over the years, Chuck released a few solo albums, and he even reunited with Faith No More for two shows in 2015.
It’s difficult not to sound like a know-it-all smart ass, but the music industry is a very difficult and emotional place to work. Duty of care is an alien concept. In the pursuit of sales the body count is high. In 2015, Help Musicians commissioned the first global academic research into musicians and mental health, which was done in conjunction with the University of Westminster and MusicTank. This academic report looked at the whole gamut of health issues within the music industry. Through this report it became very obvious that mental health issues was a continuing growing issue in the music industry. Many organisations are now discussing ways of trying to end the stigma by encouraging musicians, and those in the industry, to come forward and talk about their challenges. This report highlighted that musicians are three times more likely to suffer from mental health issues, depression or anxiety than other professions. This is coupled with lack of sleep, poor and sporadic salaries, failed relationships, disrupted lifestyles, imposter syndrome and a whole gambit of other related issues. If you consider Paul Manning’s normalisation theory, as defined in his 2007 book ‘Drugs and Popular Culture’ to hold true (I do), then we also have to contend with the fact that the music industry is a place where drugs and alcohol are totally acceptable/encouraged. If we also factor in the psychoanalytical theory of Imago, we are in very dangerous territory. Chuck fought his demons courageously to the end with a great support network of family and friends around him. Addiction is a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences. He’d spent the last decade fighting very hard to maintain his sobriety. With such a strong personality, I am sure that Chuck’s cognitive dissonance kicked in hard one last time late last week.
As I read in the Brooklyn Vegan on Saturday, “We’re sharing the manner in which he passed, in the hopes that it might serve as a warning or wake up call or beacon to anyone else struggling to fight for sobriety. He is survived by long-term partner Pip Logan, two daughters, Erica and Sophie and his grandson Wolfgang Logan Mosley. The family will be accepting donations for funeral expenses.“
I’ve read lots of press recently about the dangers of suicide in young male adults but I believe that there is another serious problem looming with the 50 to 60 years olds. Especially those from high profile careers in music, entertainment and sport; but that’s another blog post.
It was an absolute pleasuring knowing and working with you Charles Henry Mosley III, may you rest in peace.