Death of GWAR frontman prompts tributes here

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Metal fans woke up Monday to the news that Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus of the band GWAR, was found dead, at 50, in his Richmond home Sunday night.

The news hit particularly hard for a few Pittsburghers with ties to the metal band known for its over-the-top, fake-blood-filled horror spectacles.

GWAR was the first national client for Pittsburgh sound and lighting engineer Scott Warner.

"Dave amazed me with his quick wit, which sometimes made me cringe. I know I'll never work with someone like him ever again."

Reached in Florida, where he is working the Icona Pop and Miley Cyrus tour, Mr. Warner said he hooked up with GWAR in 1993 after doing sound for the Pittsburgh band The Cynics at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. The sound engineer at the club scored him an audition with GWAR to do lighting.

"I was so excited since I loved them," he said. "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."

Mr. Warner says he moved on from the gig because he felt he had done all he could with GWAR.

"It was a mixture of the same clubs and no budget for more lights," he said. "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 the 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 costumed metal band Dethlehem recalled opening for GWAR two years ago at Mr. Smalls: "We had a short but awesome convo backstage in which [Brockie] complimented me on wearing a real metal helmet while playing drums ... Something I will always remember."; 412-263-2576. Twitter: scottmervis_pg

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