Brenna tells of desperate attempts to prevent tragedy when she discovered Paul was on drugs again hours before he died
Tragic Slipknot bassist Paul Gray’s widow has told of her desperate attempts to save him – even though she only discovered he was using drugs again the day before he died.
Gray, who would have celebrated his 39th birthday this week, was found dead in an Iowa hotel room last May following an accidental overdose.
And his wife Brenna, who was pregnant at the time, says she’d saved him from death once in the past – but couldn’t manage it a second time.
She tells Revolver: “One Saturday I realised what was going on when I found things at home – then he passed away that Sunday. So I really had no time to make a move.
“On the Saturday I said, ‘Hey, we need to do something. We need to fix this.’ He agreed . He was getting ready to go out on tour with Hail and he said, ‘I’ll go get help after this tour.’ But I said, ‘You’re not going.’ I called his manager and told him to cancel. But I think it was a little too late.”
Brenna says Gray often checked into hotels to rehearse, particularly during her pregnancy when she needed to rest, so there was nothing unusual in him being in a hotel room in his home town.
She explains: “He was getting ready to restart his old band, Body Pit, right before he died – that’s what he was rehearsing. I was four months pregnant, exhausted and throwing up all over the place. The last thing I wanted was him and the other guys making a noise in my house when I was trying to sleep.”
The couple moved from Hollywood to Iowa early in their marriage, as Brenna worked to distance Gray from his drug use. She says: “If we’d stayed in Hollywood he would have died sooner – I felt like we had a matter of weeks, that’s how bad it was.
“I decided, ‘This isn’t working for me, and I know I want to be with you, but I can’t watch you do this to yourself.’ So I made the decision to pack all our shit and come to Iowa.
“It was like day and night – Paul did great. He worked really hard on his sobriety. I hadn’t wanted to move from my home, but that’s what had to be done. You make sacrifices for the people you care about; and him living was way more important than leaving somewhere I was comfortable at. We were happy and he was healthy.”
Brenna isn’t sure what led Gray into substance abuse, although she believes it may be connected to the suicide of his father, who was also a drug addict.
“He had a really shitty childhood,” she says. “I never pushed him to talk about it because it was such a burden to him. When he did talk about it he’d get really upset. I tried to get him into counselling but when someone’s not ready you can’t push them.”
Some of the public reaction to the bassist’s death shocked Brenna, and she thinks people need to understand more about addiction. She explains:”It’s a sickness – he didn’t do it on purpose. People are like, ‘Oh, typical rock star who has money and fame and a wife and a child on the way. Why would he do something like this?’
“If he could have controlled it, he would have. He wanted to be done with it. But it’s a life-long disease – even if he stayed clean for the rest of his life he’d still have had the disease. It’s sad that people don’t get it while so many people are having their lives taken by it.”
The Grays’ daughter October was born three months after the musician’s death, and Brenna says she’s beginning to show traits of her dad.
“She went through a phase where she looked just like him. Like, holy crap, kid, you’re scaring me. Now she’s just coming into her little character. She has his smile: she has these huge dimples and when she smiles, that’s Paul right there.”
Slipknot percussionist Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan is making a video for October, showing scenes of Gray with and without his mask. Brenna says: “The video is just for her. And I’m going to tell her everything I knew about him – how he made me smile, how he had a huge heart, and how excited he was that she was coming.”