Body Count rhythm guitarist D-Roc died Tuesday at the City of Hope Hospital in Southern California, due to complications from lymphoma; he was forty-five. Born Dennis Miles, he was one of five original members of rapper Ice-T’s rock band.
Miles is the third member of the band to pass away. Drummer Beatmaster V died in 1996 due to complications from leukemia, and Mooseman was the inadvertent victim of a 2000 drive-by shooting in South Central Los Angeles. Ice-T and lead guitarist Ernie-C are the only surviving members of what has become the ironically named Body Count.
“D-Roc was the backbone of the Body Count sound,” Ice-T says. “He went to school with Ernie and I and for me it was great to bring friends from my childhood along to share in success. Words cannot explain how much we will miss D-Roc, more as a friend than as a band member.”
D-Roc performed wearing a hockey mask, which Ernie-C attributes to shyness: “He didn’t want to be a star. He didn’t want people to know his face. He just enjoyed playing the music.”
Body Count released their self-titled debut in 1992. The album — best-known for the gritty single “Cop Killer,” which brought on a media maelstrom that caused Warner Bros. to remove it from the album — was one of the first to mesh rap and metal, a combination that would dominate the charts in the late Nineties courtesy of groups like Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit.
“What I saw was a direction in music,” Ice-T told Rolling Stone in 2000. “I was like, ‘This will work because rap is rock, and rock is rap.’ It’s all the same.”
Body Count, who have had a revolving door of members in recent years, plan to continue to play live and record. “We will carry on the band,” Ernie-C says. “I don’t know if it will be Body Count, but in some form, Ice and I will always play together.”
D-Roc is survived by his daughter Paris, his step-daughter Kianna and other family in Los Angeles.