RICHMOND, Va. – The cremated remains of Grammy-nominated thrash metal band GWAR’s founder are at the center of a legal dispute between his father and his surviving bandmates.
William Brockie says in a lawsuit that members of GWAR have stolen his son Dave Brockie’s ashes and many of his possessions, including guitars, artwork and a gold record.
Dave Brockie, who performed as the alien-costumed band’s lead singer Oderus Urungus for 30 years, died of a heroin overdose last year at age 50.
The musician did not have a will, and his father was named administrator of his estate.
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According to the lawsuit, filed last week in Richmond Circuit Court, the band had its leader cremated and gave his father only a fraction of ashes “in a used plastic bag with a Discover credit card logo on it.” The band also has locked up many of Dave Brockie’s belongings and has failed to pay his share of the proceeds from GWAR’s tour of the Far East in the weeks before his death, the lawsuit says.
Band members issued a statement late Tuesday denying the allegations and saying that “under very trying circumstances, we have acted in good faith to honor the wishes of our dear friend.”
The lawsuit seeks the transfer of Dave Brockie’s ashes and property to the estate and at least $1 million in damages.
GWAR was formed in 1984 and is known for its comically grotesque costumes, graphic and fake-blood-soaked shows and vulgar lyrics. The band was nominated for Grammy Awards in 1993 for “Phallus in Wonderland” and in 1996 for “S.F.W.”
The band had a revolving door of members, but Brockie remained a constant until he was found dead in his home in March 2014.
The lawsuit says GWAR members “set out on a course of action to capitalize on the death of Dave Brockie.”
It says the group tried to gain control of the estate while simultaneously absconding with his belongings. Later, William Brockie “was callously made to wait across the street” from the band’s headquarters, Slave Pit Inc., until a member came out to deliver a portion of the ashes in the plastic bag, the complaint says.
“The accusation concerning Dave’s ashes is particularly troubling for us,” the band said in its statement. “Over 30 years of working and living with Dave, several of us had heard him say that he wished for his ashes to be kept at Slave Pit, so he could ‘keep an eye on GWAR' while we worked.”
The band agreed to release a portion of the remains to Brockie’s father so he could spread them were the ashes of singer’s brother and mother were dispersed, the statement says.
The lawsuit also says GWAR also failed to get permission to use its founder’s name and image on T-shirts and other merchandise to raise money for a Dave Brockie Memorial Fund over which the band has control.
GWAR says the fund was established to erect a statue of Brockie in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, the final resting place of Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, and to “work to continue his passionate support for the arts.”