Vocalist and extreme metal pioneer Kam Lee believes that DEATH frontman Chuck Schuldiner ripped off POSSESSED back in the late 80’s amidst the burgeoning death metal scene.
DEATH is largely considered to be one of the most important and influential death metal groups of all time, who released their debut album “Scream Bloody Gore” in 1987. California metal band POSSESSED, commonly believed to have also been pioneers in the extreme subgenre, released their debut LP, “Seven Churches” in 1985. That band also featured bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra, who is credited by some with initially creating the term “death metal” in 1983.
Speaking with “That Metal Interview“, Kam Lee, who played with DEATH in the early days as well as with the pre-DEATH band MANTAS alongside Chuck Schuldiner and Rick Rozz, discussed who he believes was the first true death metal band. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “I’ll admit this, and I’ll say this straight out, ’cause I know there’s an argument all the time, who was first — was it DEATH or was it POSSESSED? Well, I will tell you POSSESSED was first, and I will tell you why. Because Chuck heard what Jeff was doing and Chuck wanted to emulate Jeff. I was there — I was there in the beginning.
“There was times when we were living here in Florida before Chuck moved to California, and Chuck and I both started off as tapetraders back in the day,” Kam continued. “And I remember, if you go back to before we were DEATH, we were called MANTAS. If you look at some of the hand-drawn logos of MANTAS, the MANTAS logo, there’s the logo with the devil’s tail on it, on the ‘M’. That’s completely stolen from the original POSSESSED logo, the devil’s tail.
“I’ll say this now, ’cause [former DEATH manager] Eric Greif is passed, he’s deceased, but this is stuff that he didn’t want me to tell people,” Lee added. “That’s why I was denied ever being interviewed for the DEATH movie, the DEATH documentary [‘Death By Metal‘]. They denied me, because they didn’t want me to say these certain things, because how are you gonna sell a documentary about DEATH if I come on and tell everybody, ‘Nah, that’s not really how it was’? So they didn’t want me on there — they absolutely refused to talk to me on there. They didn’t want me to come up and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was the one that drew the DEATH logo, not Chuck.’ They didn’t want me to tell everybody I’m the one that created that. And they didn’t want me to tell everybody, ‘Oh, well, Chuck ripped off POSSESSED.’ They wanted to sell it like Chuck created it, because they were selling a product. And if you’ve got somebody come and say, ‘Well, that’s not exactly how that product works.’ Kind of like the [fast food chicken restaurant chain] KFC. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t [KFC founder] Colonel Sanders that came up with a special recipe; some other guy came up with it. So that’s really what it was.”
You can check out the full interview at this location.