Cory Smoot, guitarist with GWAR, was found dead on the tour bus today following the gore-metal band's performance last night at First Avenue. His death was discovered when his band mates tried to wake him as they crossed the border into Canada. Cause of death has not been determined.
Smoot had been wearing the monstrous costume and performing with GWAR since 2002. He came out of Richmond, Va., and led his own band, Mensrea. A statement already provided by GWAR leader Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus, reads:
"It is with a sense of profound loss and tragedy that the members of GWAR must announce the passing of their long time guitarist and beloved friend Cory Smoot, also known to thousands of metal fans worldwide as Flattus Maximus. Cory was found deceased this morning as the band prepared for a border crossing. There is no word as to the cause of death and the members of GWAR are completely shocked and devastated that this has occurred."
First Avenue stage manager Conrad Sverkerson, who has been working closely with the band at their local gigs for 20-plus years, said there was nothing at the Minneapolis show to indicate what was to come. "They're actually not the kind of guys known as partiers; they're really solid guys," Sverkerson said. After the show, he said he went and had one drink with GWAR's tour manager and drummer, and everybody was on the bus to head north by 1:45 a.m.
Conrad added, "I emailed their tour manager Eddie and said thanks, and I didn't hear back. I guess I know why now." First Avenue staff sent out a tweet this afternoon that read, "We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Cory Smoot. Our thoughts are with our friends GWAR, their family and friends."
GWAR was only a week into a month-long tour and were due to play next in Edmonton on Friday. Brockie's statement also addressed the future of the tour and the band:
"At this point there is no word on arrangements and the disposition of the remainder of GWAR's current North American tour, nor are there any details regarding long term plans. At this point we are just dealing with the loss of our dear friend and brother, one of the most talented guitar players in metal today. We ask that our fans and the media be respectful of our request for privacy for those that have suffered this terrible loss. A full statement will be coming in the next day or so, in the meantime please give your thoughts and your prayers to Cory, his family, and all the people that love him."
Accounts from last night's concert said it was the usual batch of bloody debauchery and thundering metal. Photographer Erik Hess took some especially, um, colorful shots of the show for City Pages' site. GWAR already had an unusual tie to First Avenue: It was the first band to perform after the club rose out of bankruptcy and reopened following a three-week closure in 2004. Brockie said at the time, "It's been the most consistent rock venue in North America." Here's hoping the band retains its fondness for performing there.