It looked like another death hoax on a Monday morning, but the reports are true.
Dave Brockie, frontman for the band GWAR, was found dead in his home Sunday evening, at age 50.
His manager Jack Flanagan said in a 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."
A police spokesperson told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that they did not suspect foul play.
Brockie, who founded the theatrical metal band in 1984, worked under the stage name of Oderus Urungus. GWAR, which released its 13th album in 2013 and recently toured Japan, was known for its over-the-top stage antics, employing fake blood and costumes that took Kiss to the next level.
GWAR's last trip to Pittsburgh was Sept. 14 at Mr. Smalls, where the band has played numerous times.
Among the first to break the news Monday morning was Darkness singer David Draiman, who tweeted "SADDENED TO HEAR, RIP; Gwar Frontman Dave Brockie A.K.A. Oderus Urungus Dead At 50."
Gwar bassist Mike Bishop told Style Weekly, "Dave was one of the funniest, smartest, most creative and energetic persons I've known. 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. His penchant for scatological humors belied a lucid wit. He was a criminally underrated lyricist and hard rock vocalist, one of the best, ever! A great frontman, a great painter, writer, he was also a hell of a bass guitarist. I loved him. He was capable of great empathy and had a real sense of justice."
GWAR was the first national client for Pittsburgh sound and lighting engineer Scott Warner, who told us Monday: "It was an honor to have spent 5 years with Dave and Gwar. Dave amazed me with his quick wit which sometimes made me cringe. I know I'll never work with someone like him ever again."
Warner hooked up with GWAR in 1993 when he was doing sound for Pittsburgh band The Cynics at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC.
"The house engineer at the venue was the sound engineer for a band named Testament. We had met at City Limits a few months back. After the show he said I was a good sound engineer and wanted my card. I told him I'd rather do lights and he offered me an audition for his other client GWAR. I was so excited, since I loved them. A few months later I drove to Richmond and the gig was mine for five years. When I left to move on to Everclear, Dave was pleading with me not to go. He was tearing up. That memory is really in my mind today."
Warner says Everclear was a better opportunity at the time.
"I felt I had done all I could with Gwar. I told Dave he needed to find a young lighting guy who was hungry and showed the same excitement I had years ago. It was a mixture of the same clubs and no budget for more lights. Plus with all of the blood, I had to keep my lights behind the band. The shows were beginning to look the same."
Spahr Schmitt, who managed record store Brave New World and played in the bands Necropolis and Hi-Watt Hex, booked the first GWAR show here in 1988 at City Limits in Penn Hills after first hearing about their “outrageous stage show.”
The band, which hadn’t even released its first album yet, showed up in an old school bus missing one essential drum.
“As they were loading in, somebody realized that they’d forgotten their 50-gallon drum of fake blood back in Virginia. Dave said, ‘No worries, just go get these five ingredients, and off a couple guys went.’ ”
Only about 60 people showed up that night, Mr. Schmitt said, “But it was one of the greatest shows that ever played that City Limits venue. Just outrageous. Band members brawling in the audience, fake blood flying everywhere. I remember kids who went to that show having a pseudo-blood-tie-dyed effect on the clothes that they wore to the gig and complaining that the blood didn’t wash off of their skin and hair for several days.”
After paying for the sound equipment, there was only about $60 left to pay the band. “I very shamefully offered it to Dave, who put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘No problem, man, thanks’ and even gave me a GWAR T-shirt for my trouble. He was an awesome guy.”
Overlord Brom of the local metal band Dethlehem said, "We opened for them in 2012 at Smalls. Had a short but awesome convo backstage in which he complimented me on wearing a real metal helmet while playing drums... Something I will always remember."
Brockie was also a friend of Autumn Cook, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh grad and special effects artist who appeared on Season 4 of the Syfy show "Face Off." She posted on her Facebook page Monday, "I love him more than you will ever understand."
Updated: Monday, 2:37 p.m.