9 Years Ago: GWAR Mastermind Dave Brockie Passes Away
For intergalactic warriors and metal fans alike, March 23, 2014 was a sad day. Shock metal pioneer Dave Brockie, the founder, frontman and creative force behind GWAR, was found dead by a roommate. Brockie was 50.
Richmond police received a phone call at approximately 6:53PM, reporting “a deceased individual” at the 4800 block of West Seminary Avenue in Richmond, Va. After arriving at Brockie’s home, police found the singer sitting upright in a chair. He was unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology reports later confirmed he had overdosed on heroin.
For 30 years, Brockie (ex-Death Piggy) performed as Oderus Urungus, the front-thing of a punk-inflected metal band that claimed to be composed of intergalactic Scumdogs who were banished to Antarctica. There, they formed a band with the intention to use their powers to destroy the earth, score tons of crack and return to their home planet to rejoin their fellow Scumdogs.
Along the way, GWAR developed into one of the most outrageous, enduring and messy metal acts, earning their battle stripes for simulating gory atrocities that splattered their audience with fake blood, which poured like fountains from decapitated bodies. One of Oderus’ most legendary stunts was to bathe the crowd in jets of fake sperm he shot from his huge, malformed penis.
GWAR, "Sick of You"
Although Brockie did interviews out of costume, most of his fans only saw him in character. Many artists would have trouble sustaining the public’s interest with such antics for years, let alone decades, but Brockie was witty, garrulous and hysterical. Also, his band was appealing musically as well as visually. Although they experienced numerous lineup changes over time, GWAR released 13 studio albums with Brockie at the helm. In addition, the band put out more than 20 VHS videos and DVDs.
Brockie wasn’t only a legend of the metal counterculture; he infiltrated the mainstream. Between July 8, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2010, Oderus Urungus appeared as a semi-regular “Intergalactic Correspondent” on the Fox News show Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld. Oderus also co-starred in the 2012 sitcom Holliston on the Fearnet cable network, providing bad advice to the show’s main character.
Oderus Urungus on Holliston
After Brockie died, support flowed in from the local, national and international music communities. Perhaps the most powerful and heartfelt tribute came Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe, whose band also came from Richmond, Virginia and played with GWAR on countless occasions:
"Dave TRULY WAS ONE OF A KIND. I can't think of ANYONE even remotely like him,” Blythe said. "My band learned how to become a real touring band from GWAR. They gave us out first shot at this thing. I learned many things from Dave, many of which I am eternally grateful for, and some of which I am deeply ashamed of."
"Right now, if I were to truly honor Dave in the way HE would do it if it were ME that had died, I would make a completely tasteless joke about his death. But I do not have the stomach for that — Dave would, but not me. He never put much stock in 'limits.' Richmond has lost one of its most creative people… Thank you, Brockie, for all the crazy s--t you did. Thank God you existed, so you could do it and I didn't have to. It was an honor to know you, to be your Shaky Slave, to serve in the Blood Vomits alongside you (let's ride!), and to be soaked by your sweet cuttlefish. RIP Dave Brockie. Oderus, enjoy your trip back home."
Viking Funeral Ceremony for Dave Brockie
Brockie was the last original member of GWAR. Following his death, his bandmates decided to continue the group. They gave Oderus a traditional Viking funeral, in which he was placed on a raft that was set aflame and launched out to sea. The event took place after a public memorial on Aug. 15, 2014 before the fifth annual GWAR B-Q. Former bassist Beefcake “Michael Bishop” the Mighty (a.k.a. Blothar) took Brockie’s spot as lead vocalist and the band hired a second singer, Kim Dylla (a.k.a. Vulvatron), whose breasts spurt blood in concert.
Rest in peace, Oderus. You always knew how to make us laugh.
Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends, co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.