Heaven Needed a Scumdog: Remembering GWAR's Dave Brockie
Dave Brockie performs with GWAR at Warehouse Live, 2013
Photo by Francisco Montes
If you never caught a GWAR show in the band's improbable 30-year reign, your failure is now officially complete. Dave Brockie, the often-hilarious, always-obscene front-thing better known to fans as Oderus Urungus, returned to the stars from whence he came early Sunday morning. He was 50.
Though a slew of musicians have put in work under the foam rubber over the years, it's hard to imagine GWAR continuing without him. As the hideous face, voice and only constant member of GWAR for three decades, Oderus Urungus became a well-known, much-loved personality in the underground metal scene. Given life by Brockie's rapier wit and politically incorrect creativity, Oderus was always at the forefront of the band's mythology, which cast GWAR as omnipotent alien overlords banished to Earth millions of years ago, who accidentally created the human race by raping a few of the apes cluttering up the place.
Following the advent of recording technology, GWAR released a lucky 13 albums with Oderus on the mike. The band's sound veered from punk to heavy metal to strange jazz and country experiments, but their recorded output was always secondary to their gonzo stage show. Over countless tours, Oderus led GWAR through public mutilations of famous figures from the Pope to Justin Bieber, spraying fans with unending streams of fake blood, bile, semen and worse.
Though you can never trust Internet death rumors these days, GWAR manager Jack Flanagan issued a statement Monday confirming the shocking news.
"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 p.m. EST Sunday March 23,2014," Flanagan reported. "His body was found Sunday by his band mate at his home in Richmond, Va."
GWAR at House of Blues, 2011
Photo by Barry Sigman
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Dedicated GWAR slaves wore white T-shirts to their shows, which came away looking like they'd been tie-dyed in vomit. Every rock club in Houston worth a damn in the last 30 years was surely soaked by GWAR's excretions. The band's outrageous stage props -- including Oderus' pet phallus, the Cuttlefish of Cthulhu -- helped ensure that no major record label would publicly take a chance on them, but the band achieved notoriety on their own terms with appearances on talk shows like Jerry Springer and Joan Rivers as well as '90s pop-culture touchstones Empire Records and Beavis and Butthead.
Long after their '90s heyday, though, Oderus and GWAR soldiered on, releasing new music and slaying new foes across the globe. The band was dealt a tremendous blow in 2011 when longtime guitarist and producer Corey Smoot (Flattus Maximus) was found dead on the band's tour bus as they prepared to cross the border into Canada. After hosting an intergalactic melee to find a successor, GWAR rallied, releasing last year's Battle Maximus in tribute to their fallen comrade.
When Rocks Off spoke with Oderus late last year about time travel, Roger Staubach and the future of GWAR, he sounded characteristically upbeat and confident, ready to carry the Scumdog banner on and on.
"GWAR is eternal; I've always stated this," he said. "It will never, never, ever end, just as sure as West Side Story is playing on Broadway tonight!"
For a long time, that seemed certain. The universe may have stolen Dave Brockie from us before he could establish GWAR's permanent rule of our planet, but thanks to the vivid memories he made over the decades, his foul, familiar stench is certain to linger on for quite a while.
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