Early life, family, educational background
American songwriter, musician and singer Chad Gray, was born on 16 October 1971, in Latham, Illinois, USA. He is the co-founder and lead singer of heavy metal band Hellyeah, and is also known as Kud, Helvis, and Chüd. He was born to Mitzi Gray and Dan Gray, but was raised by Betty Rau, his grandmother. In Hellyeah’s DVD “Below the Belt,” he spoke about how his grandmother supported him by taking him to choir practice and performances.
He made $40,000 annually when working in a Firestone tire factory – the company became notorious for fitting faulty tires used on Ford Explorers, which were the cause of the vehicles rolling.
He told the Peoria Journal Star, ‘I had a job that paid good money, and I basically wasn’t living my life… I wasn’t following the dream in my heart.’ He quit his job and moved to Peoria, adding that he didn’t have savings, as he had spent all of his money on useless nonsense such as pinwheels, bubble gum and beer.
After quitting his factory job, he formed Mudvayne in 1996. The band released five studio albums – “L.D. 50” in 2000, “The End of All Things to Come” in 2002, in 2005 “Lost and Found” was released, “The New Game” in 2008 and 2009, “Mudvayne.” “Lost and Found,” reached number two on the Billboard 200 chart, and their single – “Happy?” – reached number one on the US Mainstream Rock chart.
He wrote “Death Blooms” in honor of his grandmother’s struggle with her disease, believing that his grandmother was feeling neglected towards the end of her life.
In 2004 their song “Silenced/Not Falling” was in the video game, “Backyard Wrestling 2”, and “Determined” appeared in “Need for Speed: Underground 2.” In 2007, “Happy?” played in “MX vs. ATV Untamed.” In 2007, their compilation album “By the People, for the People,” was released.
Their EPs included “Kill, and I Oughtta” in 1997, “The Beginning of All Things to End” in 2001 and “Live Bootleg” in 2003.
Chad Gray and Tom Maxwell, former Nothingface guitarist, worked together on creating another band, Coldwhitechrist, however, the project never entirely took off due to Chad’s commitments to Mudvayne.
After working with Tom, Mudvayne and Nothingface decided to tour together, and during the Tattoo the Earth tour in 2000, they discussed forming a supergroup. Although they could not go through with anything immediately because of their busy schedules, they came up with five possible band names, and in 2006, Hellyeah was formed in Dallas, Texas. The American heavy metal group was composed of Chad Gray as lead vocalist, Tom Maxwell and Christian Brady as guitarists, Roy Mayorga as the drummer, and Kyle Sanders as bassist.
Greg Tribbett, the guitarist of Mudvayne, approached Tom and asked to join the band. Nothingface’s drummer, Tommy Sickles, was the original drummer, but it did not work out, so they searched for a new drummer.
They tried to persuade Vinnie Paul, the former drummer of Pantera and Damageplan. At the time, he was unsure about returning to music following his brother, Dimebag Darrell’s death, and went on hiatus for 18 months – ‘It was one of those things that I didn’t think I’d be a part of this ever again without him.’ He said that Chad and Tom contacted him and asked if he would be interested in joining the band. At first, he told them that he didn’t think he was ready yet, but they were determined. ‘And one night, I had been drinking some red wine and listening to some KISS on 12… and I said… let’s see what happens.’ Upon joining the band, he commented, ‘Everybody had their head in the right place, and that let’s-tear-the-world-a-new-ass attitude.’
During an interview on AOL Noisecreep’s “Creep Show,” Chad said that their fans find an escape in Hellyeah’s music, ‘People need this… we’re giving people a relief… a night where they are not worried about the house payment or car payment.’
In 2007 they released their first self-titles album, which reached number nine on the Billboard 200 chart, and number three on the US Rock chart. In 2010 “Stampede” came out, which reached number eight on the Billboard 200, number three on the US Rock chart, and number two on the US Hard Rock chart. “Band of Brothers” was released in 2012 and reached number three on both the US Hard Rock and the US Rock charts.
In 2014, “Blood for Blood” was released, and it reached number one on the US Hard Rock chart. “Unden!able” was released in 2016, and reached number two on the US Hard Rock chart.
In 2007, their song, “You Wouldn’t Know” was in the video games “WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008”, and “Madden NFL 08.”
Chad and Greg Tribbett often co-produce and co-write songs for other artists. Man Made Machine from Phoenix released their debut album entitled “Become,” with “Victim” on the tracklist, a song written and produced by Chad and Greg.
They also produced Nonpoint’s sixth studio album, “Miracle” – Chad also lent his voice to the album’s title track. Other songs he has featured in include “Falling Backwards” by Bloodsimpleand and “Monsters” by V Shape Mind. He sang Suicide Silence’s “Fuck Everything” at Mitch Lucker’s Memorial Show. He has claimed that he enjoys helping other bands with their tracks more than singing and performing.
In his 2015 interview with All Access, he said, ‘I purposely write songs kind of open-ended so listeners can draw a line between what I’m saying lyrically and make it applicable to their lives.’
In 2005 Chad married Kelli Olson, and they lived in Redding, California, together. That same year Rau, his grandmother, passed away after battling cancer for several years. He dedicated “Thank You” by Hellyeah and “Death Blooms” by Mudvayne to her and her struggle. He had said that he is grateful for his grandmother’s love, and that she had encouraged him to join the choir when he was a young boy, which led to his passion for singing.
He divorced Kelli Olson, and is currently engaged to Shannon Gunz. She is the radio host for various Sirius XM channels, including Octane, Ozzy’s Boneyard, and Turbo. Together they have a dog, Milly.
Hobbies, favorite things, and interesting facts
Chad occasionally wears make-up when performing on stage. He is well-known for his trademark growls, screams, but clean singing.
He enjoys painting, hiking, golfing, photography, and tries his best to eat healthily.
He has blue eyes and natural black hair, which he sometimes dyes. When performing, he usually wears his hair down, and sometimes he styles it into a mohawk.
Net worth and salary
Chad’s net worth is estimated at over $5 million, as of mid-2020.