The metal community was shocked and saddened today with the news of the passing of Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus from the satirical trash metal band GWAR. Brockie, who was found dead on Sunday, March 23rd, in his apartment by his roomate with the cause of death unknown at this time. Brockie was the lead vocalist and frontman of the band Gwar since 1984 when the band formed as a result of two separate projects merged into one. Gwar would go on to become one of the most successful, outspoken, brutal, funny, obscene bands of all time mixing over the top, elaborate sci/fi horror inspired elements into their shows forming hilarious political and morally corrupt themes.
People all over the world are in a state of disbelief, in fact Gwar’s own manager, Jack Flanagan issued this statement: “It is with a saddened heart, that I confirm my dear friend Dave Brockie, artist, musician, and lead singer of GWAR passed away at approximately 6:50 PM EST Sunday March 23,2014. His body was found Sunday by his band mate at his home in Richmond, VA. Richmond authorities have confirmed his death and next of kin has been notified. A full autopsy will be performed. He was 50 years old, born August 30, 1963. My main focus right now is to look after my band mates and his family. More information regarding his death shall be released as the details are confirmed.”
I was personally a huge fan of Gwar, having seen them live in action several times. I still have my bloody shirt from the slave pits of hell to prove it. I enjoyed seeing Gwar live because they utilized every inch of the stage with their hilariously obnoxious science fiction/horror film inspired costumes that were larger than life. My favorite aspect of a Gwar show was when they mercilessly killed off a political or social media icon, some that have met their grisly end included Paris Hilton, Justin Beiber, the Pope and George W. Bush to name a few. Brockie’s character Oderus Urungus was perhaps the funniest of the fray. Gwar was so much more than a band, in fact there is a complete mythos that reveals the mysterious origins of the band members.
Oderus’s origin story is completely ridiculous stating that he hails from a planet called Scumdogia “Syntho Womb 5”, his father was a supercomputer, mother was a petri dish and sister known as Slymentra Hymen. You might be asking, who the fuck thinks of this shit, well a brilliant mind and that is just the beginning. Urungus was known as an intergalactic humanoid barbarian who carried around an epic broad sword named “Unt Lick”, accompanied by his true companion Cuttle Fish. Urungus was also the only character that existed in every incarnation of Gwar, playing bass, guitar and eventually leading to vocals. Also according to the mythos, Oderus Urungus was over 43 Billion years old, while that may be true, Dave Brockie was only 50 when he died, and he no doubt left this toilet earth way too soon, but not without a legacy of punk, trash, and horror that will not be forgotten any time soon.
Gwar’s stage presence and theatrics were one of a kind and unlike any other band in existence. Having been around since 1984 and reigning supreme for nearly 30 years, they have inspired countless movies, comics, comedians, and bands. The heavy metal band Ghoul is totally Gwar inspired and I am happy to say I got to see them on tour twice. Gwar’s discography is epic with having recorded over 13 studio albums. Some of my favorites are ‘Scumdogs of the Universe’ ‘Violence has Arrived’ and ‘Ragnarok’. Gwar always stayed hungry, never were complacent, even released an album last year entitled “Battle Maximus”.
They were without a doubt one of the hardest working bands around, formulating epic storied stage shows, recording albums, directing videos, forming outstanding tours like the ‘Gwar-beque’ and ‘Stripper Christmas Summer Weekend’ and starring on television shows like ‘Holliston’ or creating havoc on the Jerry Springer Show. If there was an oppurtunity for Gwar to be in the spotlight they would seize and kill it. Gwar also are responible for over 20 video releases with some of my favorites being ‘It’s Sleazy’, ‘Live From Antarctica’, ‘Phallus in Wonderland’ and of course their ‘Ultimate Video Gwarchive’ that contained all their outlandish music videos like ‘Saddam a Go Go’. Gwar was a force that noone could stop or contain and it was all the brainchild of Dave Brockie.
One of Brockie’s last projects was ‘Holliston’ in which he played Oderus Urungus as an imaginary creature in Director’s Adam Green’s apartment, who was giving him advice. Gree was contacted to release a statement on Brockie’s death and here’s what he had to say: “Thank you to every fan that has reached out with condolences in these early morning hours. I am at ArieScope with Joe and Laura now as we struggle through the night to try and accept that our dear friend is gone. Oderus Urungus has left planet earth to go home to Scumdoggia, and even more devastating, he has taken my brother Dave Brockie with him. I’ll try and put proper words together when I can, but for now I just wanted to thank every member of the HOLLISTON NATION for your love and for sending your thoughts and prayers to the Brockie family, the GWAR family, and everyone else who was lucky enough to know Dave in this life. I am heartbroken.”
Devastating news like this is hard to take, especially when it rocks the metal community. Needless to say Gwar has met a measure of success that noone can deny, they did chart three albums on the billboard 200, been nominated for two Grammys and sold over 820,00 albums. However, lately they have fallen on hard times. Gwar lost their bass player in 2011 Corey Smoot aka Flattus Maximus who died on the bands very own tour bus. The death caused Cannibus Corpse guitarist Brent Purgason to join the band as a new character Pustulus Maximus paying homage to the late Smoot. Also the death inspired the name of their 13th studio album ‘Battle Maximus’. Dave Brockie stated that Smoot’s character would be retired forever out of respect.
Gwar played on through the hard times, I remember seeing them on a tour right after Smoot died and their was a bass hanging high in the air well above the stage as a tribute. However, now the band has lost their main stay. Oderus Urungus has now left the building and its hard to imagine a Gwar show without him, I mean sure their is still fan favorites like ‘Beefcake the Mighty’ and ‘Balsac the Jaws of Death’ but without Oderus it’s just not the same. Here is a statement from former Gwar bassist Mike Bishop,”Dave was one of the funniest, smartest, most creative and energetic persons I’ve known,” he said. “He was brash sometimes, always crass, irreverent, he was hilarious in every way. But he was also deeply intelligent and interested in life, history, politics and art.”
In conclusion, its hard to fathom the news at this time that we lost yet another legend of metal. I still can’t believe Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman, Type O Negative’s Peter Steele, Rainbow/Black Sabbath’s Ronnie James Dio and Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell to name a few, are no longer here. Now, a mainstay of metal, Dave Brockie has passed but not without leaving behind a legacy, having inspired and toured with countless bands. There is not much more I can say here as I am now rendered speechless, I suppose I’ll go listen to Gwar songs or watch some of their videos as a tribute.
I’ll leave with a quote from a member of one of my favorite bands Municipal Waste, Tony Foresta, who toured with Gwar and Ghoul in 2012 :”I’m so devastated right now. One of the most fun, brilliant, inspirational and creative people I’ve ever had the privilege to call a friend has passed. I’m going to miss you so much, pal.”
RIP Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus – August 30, 1963 – March 23, 2014