HOLMBERG: GWAR family talks about Dave Brockie death and band’s future

Posted at 1:47 PM, Mar 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-25 00:43:05-04

Click here for CBS 6 coverage of Dave Brockie

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - How could someone so alive be dead?

Richmond's own Dave Brockie, founder of GWAR, was found by his roommates shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday in their Northside Richmond home.

A friend, brother, fellow traveller and leader in the wildest lane in life. Bursting with energy. Creativity. Humor. Semi-controlled madness. Musician, lyricist, writer, artist, technician, mastermind. And just a cool guy with heart.

There's no question he was a champion of free speech, pushing the boundaries of taste like few artists - and people - have done before.

But he did it with humor and a certain maniacal poetry.

In his band X-Cops, he played a gay racist officer in San Francisco, "a gay Aryan from the Bay Area."

He slaughtered, in effigy, cultural icons of all races, creeds and political and sexual orientations. From popes to presidents, pop stars to terrorists. That's why he appeared regularly on the late night Fox News show.

There was a theatricality, an almost Shakespearean depth and energy to his vocal eruptions.

Someone he was mocking wasn't just stupid or silly, they were "an insignificant piece of liver fat."

And he could just switch that zany energy on at will.

He was heavily into comics, and saw himself as a bit of a cartoon character himself, mocking his own (what he considered to be) overly large head.

I've never seen someone so sure of his own grand and, at times, maniacal mission, but so honestly humble and childishly surprised that it was working.

We all knew Dave fought his drug and alcohol demons.

We listened when and watched when he wrestled with the sudden death by heart failure of band mate Cory Smoot.

Virtually every time I saw him - and I saw him a lot over the years - he was sober, focused and absolutely full of life. Just full-on firing.

The guy was in good shape - he had to be to perform endlessly and energetically in his heavy rubber costume. He, like the rest of the vast troupe, would be drenched in sweat and wrung-out at the end of every show.

I fully admired Dave Brockie.

I wrote about the many twists and turns in his artistic path.

I loved that his band mocked the pretentiousness in pop culture. I loved the way the band grew into heavy metal superstars by dint of hard work and endless performances, frequently here in town without their costumes as RAWG.

I loved that he led a co-op, a sort of musical commune that was largely - okay, not always, but mostly - faithful to its members.

My kids met Dave and were big fans. All around the world, people know RVA because of Dave and GWAR.

There's never been another musical enterprise like GWAR - art, music, film, comics, wrestling, prop creation and manufacture, anatomy, sci-fi, theater, controversy, humor, horror and cultural truth.

Yes, there were a lot of people on the GWAR bus, but Dave drove it.

There's nobody remotely like him. So very sorry to see him gone.