Slipknot have decided to stay "within the family" to find a touring replacement for bassist Paul Gray, who died of an accidental overdose last May. Donnie Steele, who served as an original guitarist for the hard rock group, will fill in for Gray for Slipknot's upcoming 2011 shows, the band announced on its official website.
"Donnie was in the band at the very beginning, and rather than get an outsider, we thought it would be a fitting tribute to Paul to play with someone from within the family," the band explained in a statement. "Donnie was great friends with Paul and we can't think of a better way to celebrate his memory than with someone who was there with us at the very beginning. The eight of us are looking forward to being onstage again and honoring Paul's legacy with our families in Europe and Brazil this summer."
Gray, 38, was found dead of an overdose of morphine and fentanyl in an Iowa hotel on May 24, 2010. After Gray's death, the eight remaining members of the metal band appeared in public for the first time without their signature masks to pay tribute to Slipknot's founding bassist.
Slipknot kicks off a string of 10 summer shows at Greece's Sonisphere Festival on June 17. While a few Slipknot members have already begun contemplating a new album, frontman Corey Taylor told Billboard.com in January, "We lost a huge piece of our band. We lost a huge member of our family -- in my opinion the biggest -- and it's a different vibe now. So right now I'm just taking it step by step, and I can only hope that the other guys in the band are as well."