Chuck Mosley, photographed earlier this year at a record store appearance in New YorkEXPAND
Chuck Mosley, photographed earlier this year at a record store appearance in New York

R.I.P. Chuck Mosley, Whose Eccentric Brilliance Drove Faith No More

It’s unlikely that the members of Faith No More knew how historically significant it would be when they agreed to reunite with Chuck Mosley, their former singer, for two gigs billed as “Chuck Mosley & Friends” in August 2016. What initially appeared to be a hat-tip to their old comrade turned into two nights of triumph — for the band, because they were able to give some early deep cuts an airing; for the fans, because they were able to see something truly special; and certainly for Mosley, whose legacy with the band was complicated, to say the least.

Mosley, born in Hollywood but raised in South L.A. and Venice, met future Faith No More bassist Bill Gould in 1977 when both were attending a show by Chula Vista punk band The Zeros. Mosley played keyboards in Gould’s first band, The Animated, and, after a spell in San Fran post-punk band Haircuts That Kill, rejoined Gould in a fledgling Faith No More in ’85, replacing a rotating cast of lead vocalists that included, among others, Courtney Love.

Mosley hooked up with Faith No More just in time for the debut album, We Care a Lot, recorded without label backing with the members pooling their funds to get the thing out, on vinyl only. It’s a flawed piece of work — the sound of a band finding its feet. But it also deserved its re-release last year, because there are certainly signs of the greatness that would come later, not least that immortal title track.

The deep grooves created by Gould and drummer Mike Bordin were complemented beautifully by Roddy Bottum’s perfectly weird keys and the heavy riffing of Jim Martin. And the icing on the cake was Mosley’s vocals.

History hasn’t always been kind to the singer. His early FNM vocals have been called an acquired taste, and it didn’t help when the man who later replaced him, Mike Patton, turned out to be one of rock’s very best vocalists. But make no mistake — Faith No More wouldn’t have sounded like they later did without the early influence of Mosley. His slightly out-of-tune croons, his quirks and ticks, on songs such as “The Jungle” and “As the Worm Turns,” certainly had an influence on Patton. Even when he was gone, Mosley’s impact on Faith No More could be heard at every show, as Patton would be the first to admit.

Until it was re-released, We Care a Lot was something of a forgotten album, with many thinking that the follow-up, 1987’s Introduce Yourself, was the debut. The song “We Care a Lot” was re-recorded for Introduce Yourself, and even the band believed it to be their true debut for years. It’s certainly more polished, though all of the elements that made We Care a Lot great, including Mosley’s unique and often-mimicked vocals, are still there. “We Care a Lot” might forever be the song that people will know Mosley for best, but many FNM fans believe that the song “Introduce Yourself” is his greatest moment — a rapid-fire assault of aggressive funk-punk.

Even for a band as notoriously unpredictable as Faith No More, Mosley’s behavior became too much during the subsequent tour. Stories of him punching Gould onstage and of his roadies getting into a fistfight with Martin circulated before Mosley was eventually fired. Mike Patton joined, and Faith No More would go on to have more success, but the fans never forgot Mosley.

For a while, it looked like Mosley would be fine. He joined punk pioneers Bad Brains in 1990 following the release of 1989’s Quickness album and original singer H.R.’s temporary departure from the band. Mosley performed nearly 60 shows with the band before leaving in January ’92. He never recorded with Bad Brains (Israel Joseph I joined for 1993’s Rise album, before H.R. rejoined in time for 1995’s God of Love) but live videos show a guy comfortable with his prestigious bandmates.

Mosley wasn’t out of action for long, forming the familiarly funk-metal band Cement, who put out a self-titled debut in ’93, followed by 1994’s The Man With the Action Hair. Both displayed hints of what Mosley had brought to Faith No More, but neither was strong enough to set the world on fire and the band were over within a few short years.

Musically, Mosley went quiet for a while. He moved to Cleveland and worked for many years as a chef. it wasn’t until 2009 that his debut solo album surfaced, Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food, featuring guest appearances from members of Korn and Faith No More. A legal wrangle with his old FNM bandmates was eventually resolved, and We Care a Lot was re-released in 2016, which led to last year’s stellar reunion, a show that saw Mosley’s reputation soar. If he ever felt slighted by the band, this was hopefully the moment that gave him peace.

Chuck Mosely died on Nov. 9 at the age of 57. His family released the following statement:

“After a long period of sobriety, Charles Henry Mosley III lost his life, on November 9th, 2017, due to the disease of addiction. 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. Details to follow when arranged.”

The following statement appeared on the Faith No More Facebook page:

“It’s with a heavy, heavy heart we acknowledge the passing of our friend and bandmate, Chuck Mosley. He was a reckless and caterwauling force of energy who delivered with conviction and helped set us on a track of uniqueness and originality that would not have developed the way it had had he not been a part. How fortunate we are to have been able to perform with him last year in a reunion style when we re-released our very first record. His enthusiasm, his sense of humor, his style and his bravado will be missed by so many. We were a family, an odd and dysfunctional family, and we’ll be forever grateful for the time we shared with Chuck.”

Thanks to a career that occasionally touched on greatness, Mosley’s legacy will live on for a very long time.

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