LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The bassist for Grammy-winning metal band Slipknot, a masked group whose members beat each other up on stage and endearingly call their fans "maggots," was found dead at a hotel near the group's home town of Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, officials said.
Paul Gray, a co-founder of the group, was 38. The circumstances of his death were unclear. His body was discovered at a TownePlace Suites hotel in Johnston, north of Des Moines, by a hotel employee.
A spokesman for the nearby Urbandale Police Department said there was no evidence of foul play, and that more information would likely be released on Tuesday following an autopsy.
One of the biggest bands in the metal genre, Slipknot topped the charts in the United States, Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland with its most recent album, 2008's "All Hope Is Gone." The nine-man band won a Grammy in 2004 for its song "Before I Forget."
"Paul Gray had a passion for music and a flair for the theatrical," said Neil Portnow, president and CEO of The Recording Academy, which organizes the Grammys. "The heavy metal world has lost an immense talent, and Slipknot's loyal following will ensure he and his music are remembered for years to come."
Slipknot is an unusual band in almost every respect: Inspired by their heroes KISS, each member wears a grotesque mask in public along with coveralls, and is identified by a number. Gray was No. 2.
Even after the band enjoyed widespread commercial success with its decidedly nihilistic and radio-unfriendly songs, it remained based in remote Des Moines.
While some of its members actually lived rather humdrum existences with their families, Gray evidently preferred the hotel life. A decade ago, Rolling Stone magazine reported that the soft-spoken musician lived in a local Holiday Inn.
The band became notorious for its performances. Its members often broke each other's bones and also injured their fans after diving into the crowd. They were not above hurling their own excrement and drinking their own urine, according to Rolling Stone.
(Editing by Eric Beech)