At 7:00 am this morning as I sat in my chair having my first cup of coffee and talking to my wife a message pops up on my phone from a good friend of mine. The message started out with, “Don, I have some terrible news.” Being that me and my friends always fuck around with each other I was waiting for the punchline. The only thing was that the punchline never came. She replied, “It’s about Dave Brockie. They found him dead in his home.” I then quickly checked my calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. I then realized that what I was doing was the same thing that people do in shock and disbelief when hearing news like this. It wasn’t a joke and it wasn’t a rumor. Dave “Oderus Urungus” Brockie was found dead in his residence by his roommates on March 23, 2014. He was only 50 years old.
When someone dies, especially a celebrity, the first question people ask is, “How?” As I sit here typing this, I just can’t help but feel that it’s irrelevant to anything. Why does it matter how someone dies? Just so you’re speculations can be confirmed? If anyone who knew Dave or was a just a huge fan, we can all only hope that he died on the toilet. He would’ve loved that more than anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if his wishes were to have his body moved to the toilet in the event that he was found dead somewhere else. Ok, you see what I did there? That is exactly what Dave would’ve done if someone had died. He would’ve found a way to make a tasteless joke of some sorts in order to lighten the bearing load of sad news. That’s the kind of person Dave was and that’s why his family, friends, and fans loved him so much. Even when he was saying shit that you didn’t always get behind we all had this respect and admiration for him. In many ways Dave said all the things that we usually only thought and tucked away in the back of our minds. That man just didn’t give a fuck and in a lot of ways was a huge influence and inspiration behind this here blog.
The same friend of mine who broke this news to me this morning asked me: “What made you like GWAR in the first place?” I immediately started reminiscing on my years as a GWAR fan. I can still remember the day that I first heard them. It was 1988 and I was in 9th grade Art class. This kid sitting next to me goes, “You like metal right?” “I sure do” I replied. “Here, listen to this” he says. He hands me a blank cassette and scrawled on the little sticker label is “GWAR – HELL-O” I was like, what the fuck is GWAR? There was no picture, no nothing. I had no idea what this band looked like but when I popped the cassette into my Walkman, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Time For Death”, “Pure as the Arctic Snow”, “I’m In Love with a Dead Dog.” It was like the Ramones singing Alice Cooper type lyrics with metal guitar solos. I told this kid I loved it but wanted more and he says, “This is all they have. Oh, here’s what they look like” and shows me his original cassette cover. I about lost my mind. From there, I was hooked.
It would 1992 before I would see my very first GWAR show and from that show on I would forever be a GWAR fan. GWAR’s live shows were always special and as the years passed they would became legendary. You just never knew what GWAR was going to do and every year it was, “Who are they going to kill this year?” One year it was Jerry Garcia, one year it was JonBennett Ramsey, and another year it might be George W. Bush, Paris Hilton, or Saddam Hussein. Over the years I would see 12 GWAR shows and while the live shows were always what we loved, it was their music that was every bit as a strong, compelling, and thought provoking as their live show.
When I first launched The Great Southern Brainfart, it was a dream of mine to interview Dave at some point. In 2010, my dream came true when GWAR was playing here in Atlanta. I arrived at the venue just after sound check and was brought backstage to interview Dave. Here come’s Dave with a plate full of food. He sets it down and goes, “Are you Don? I hope you don’t mind if I stuff my fucking face while we do this interview cuz I’m starving? You want some of this?” I launched question after question at him and he would laugh (making him laugh was an honor!) and he would deliver answers that would make me snort at which he would laugh in return saying, “You sound like a goddamn pig, man. Jesus!” Dave was a really smart, really funny, and a really genuinely sweet person. He loved being in GWAR and he loved being Oderus. He had a strong sense of pride in what GWAR did and he was a guy who was always looking forward. After our interview he says to me, “Man that was a fun interview! Here, hold on to this and let’s take a picture.” He picks up the legendary Cuttlefish of Cthulhu and there you have it; a Kodak moment like none other.
Over the next 4 years I would cross paths with Dave in person and online with Dave a few times. I even remember playing a game of Words with Friends with him during which he messages me and says, “What do you mean CUNT isn’t a word?” Dave was always really great and really friendly and he would thank me for my support and ask how I was doing. The last time I saw him here in Atlanta in 2013 he said, “Hey! It’s the Great Southern Fartknocker! How are you?” We talked for maybe 5 minutes and that was the last time I would speak with him.
So to answer my friend’s question: “What made you like GWAR in the first place?” My answer: GWAR was me. With GWAR, Dave Brockie created something special that metal heads all over the world could all relate to. GWAR was this crazy looking band who was known for doing gross antics on stage and were painted and stereotyped as being just a bunch of violent metal monsters. Underneath all the latex, fake blood, and tongue in cheek (or ass to mouth) humor was an intelligent, outspoken man who could hold his own in any arena when talking about political and social issues of the times. This was something that every metal fan could relate to. We may look like hell but we’re intelligent, well read, well spoken, and pretty much a nice bunch of people who love comics, cartoons, and potty humor. Dave Brockie was us and we are all Dave Brockie.
It’s funny how when someone dies, the first thing we all want to do is to reminisce and share our stories with each other. I have countless GWAR stories and the sad thing is they never really get told. Why? Because I just assumed that GWAR would always be around and that the stories would just keep piling up. From my very first GWAR show in 1992, to traveling to New Orleans to see them play (where Dave was so blown away that we did this he gave me and my friends each a shirt, drumsticks, and packs of fake blood), to seeing X-Cops and three Dave Brockie Experience shows, Dave Brockie was a guy who truly appreciated and valued his fans.
RIP Dave/Oderus. Thank you for all those unforgettable live shows, unforgettable moments of hanging with you, and a legacy of music that will last a lifetime. I hope you’re defecating in that big shitter in the sky and remember, if you find the big ol’ throne up there, be sure to leave a booger under it.