With all greatness we must endure times of sorrow, sadness and reflection. This morning we learned of a good friend passing in the night. Dave Brockie, the infamous frontman and vocalist for the 30 year veteran Slave Pit ambassadors GWAR, has unexpectedly returned to his home planet. His alter ego and stage presence of Oderus Urungus graced us with many years and many gallons of fake blood and spew, his condscending lyrics beating us to the floor in a heap of submissive human flesh. The satyrical Urungus was much the demon of the opposite shoulder for Brockie.
Dave was a very kind, gentle and loving man who was quick witted and very down to earth. His larger than life heart was the core and foundation of what helped build and develop a thriving heavy metal scene which is what we enjoy today. Brockie always the consumate professional – he was beyond humble with a eerie child like quality. Dave Brockie never really grew up – he lived much as we all fantasize, he was a modern day Peter Pan. Encouraging the barbaric limits of satire, exploding the limiting confines of good taste, stretching the overtly obtuse definition of “politically correct” he is and will always remain a publicity / political dream and an enemies worst nightmare. Armed with a strong education in visual arts and communication Dave Brockie was the refinement and good humor we all dream of saying but rarely ever do.
Gwar was my second show ever shot as a professional and my last major photoshoot recently; in a solemn declaration in foreshadowing it’s often peculiar how life enters a circular pattern when we explore mortality. My first ever show was a mixture of unbearable heat, steam, sweat, fake blood, bad lighting and loud and I mean really loud music. Through it all I persevered and cut my teeth against these latex clad giants before me – studying their onstage personaes; preparing myself for their next visit and readying myself for better images yet again. With a second and third show under my belt came a stunning bolt of lightning like news. Flattus Maximus, the guitarist for GWAR (Cory Smoot) was found dead on the bus 3 nights before the venue in Edmonton, AB. As I delicately negotiated this time and respected the artists and their space, I was oddly rewarded with a mind blowing statement from the band and management. The show would go on as planned. Never before nor never again did I expect to see such a display. In true GWAR form 3 nights beyond, I entered the venue and was standing outside the Green Room backstage, Dave Brockie exited the door and we stood face to face. In a very vacant worn stare, his eyes distant and tired – he said “Cory’s guitar will be onstage” make this look good. I was speechless.
Following that show I remember contacting Dave by way of email and advising after Cory’s passing that I had some images of the departed member and that Dave may wish them for his personal archive. To say he was excited was and understatement, this turned out to be one of my biggest ice breakers as Dave asked that my image of Cory playing be used on the website for the Cory Smoot Memorial Fund. I sent the images to Dave and expected nothing more, some weeks later an envelope arrived with a postmark from Virginia and the header reading Slave Pit Inc. I tore open the envelope to find a hand written note to say thank you and it was signed your friend. . .Dave, that’s who Dave Brockie was; the man in that note. Very simple, very classy and eloquente – perhaps not by others definition but by his own.
From that encounter forward Dave was always a respected colleague and would always ensure I was front and center for local GWAR shows.
As I woke this morning and learned of his passing, it is hard to see admittedly. We have collectively enjoyed the GWAR experience for 30 years, we need to celebrate what Dave and his friends created; the world is a better place for it. The humor they sought to fill the void with is what society needs and feeds from; irreverance is healthy and a normal part of the human condition. Dave Brockie was doing what he loved and did it for 30+ years – we in our lives should only be so lucky to find the passion in our hearts which drives us to wear a 50lbs latex suit night after exhaustive night and give 150% of ourselves. This is the mark of a true professional and friend. Thank you Dave for your years of service and support of the industry you loved so well.