Gwar frontman Dave Brockie was found dead in his home on Sunday, as first reported by Richmond’s Style Weekly. He was 50 years old. His death has shocked devoted fans of the longtime metal band, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. Brockie, who played a few roles in the band since its inception, was Gwar’s last original member.
Arlington resident, Electric Cowbell label founder and former Tropicalia booker Jim Thomson was also one of Gwar’s founding members. He fell into Brockie’s clan in 1984 while a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, and went on to help start the group. “You felt like you were some sort of co-warrior with Dave,” Thomson says. “He was an art-school misfit.” Monstrously costumed and constantly over-the-top, Gwar loved to skewer politics and religion and spray copious blood on its fans, and it became Richmond’s most famous band. Brockie continued to live in Richmond, and remained a major presence in the local scene.
Thomson toured with Gwar for the last time in 1989, but remained in touch with Brockie over the years. He gave permission to Bandwidth to publish his memories of Thomson, which he posted on Facebook earlier today.
I first met Dave Brockie at a surprise birthday party for him in ’84. I had just moved to Richmond to go to VCU after high school. I kept hearing about Death Piggy and Dave Brockie. His vibe was already larger than life. When he walked in the door of his apartment on Harrison [Street], everybody piled on top of him. Everybody seemed to love this guy. I didn’t know him, but I piled on, too. Seemed like the right thing to do.
I thought he was too cool for me, but we naturally became friends and fellow pranksters together. When he came out to check out my band, I thought it was the coolest thing. And he was so supportive. He had a way of inspiring you. He was very local. Very punk rock. The kind of punk rock that was real. It was how you lived it. Make your own scene.
We lived and sort of squatted in the Richmond Dairy together. We jammed for hours together. Dave was an entire cosmos of spirit and boundless energy. He always had a sketchbook or notebook nearby. Constantly creating. It made you feel like you should be doing something, too. We played together in probably the most unlistenable band ever called Armpit. We had an absurdist trio called Deranged Deranged that we always talked about doing again. There was MILK. There were the GWAR years. Then it was just years of going along running into Dave here and there, sharing war stories, new projects, even until the last time we spoke on the phone a few months back.
He was one of the biggest peaceniks I ever met. His fascination with war was more or less one of horror and amazement that humans could do that to each other. He was truly a soldier for art and creativity. He helped me to revise my thinking. In many ways he shaped me and others around him. The scene. The community. Richmond. He was just inspiring and fun to be around. You knew when Dave entered the room. He was a fire starter. A provocateur. He seemed immortal. He called me brother. I love him and miss him deeply. I’m thankful for his friendship and his spirit. That’s for keeps.