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Gwar Sued for Stealing Late Frontman’s Ashes

Band denies taking personal items and not fully paying Dave Brockie for final tour amid lawsuit from Brockie’s father

GWAR

GWAR performs in Seattle, Washington on November 12th, 2014.

Mat Hayward/Getty

In a case of rock and roll weirdness that could surpass Phil Kaufman’s daring theft and cremation of Gram Parson’s body in the Joshua Tree desert, the father of late Gwar frontman Dave Brockie is suing the band for allegedly holding onto his son’s musical equipment, artwork and ashes, NBC News reports.

William Brockie is hoping to retrieve his son’s remains, and is also seeking $1 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages for a supposed breach of contract and the unauthorized use of Brockie’s image. Brockie — who performed under the stage name Oderus Urungus — died of a heroin overdose in March 2014.

The suit accuses Gwar of “trying to capitalize on the death of Dave Brockie,” and claims the band’s manager, Jack Flanagan, allegedly signed phony documents allowing Gwar to use the late Brockie’s name and likeness for merchandising. The suit also accuses Gwar of not fully paying Brockie’s estate for the frontman’s final tour last winter.

Among the items the elder Brockie hopes to retrieve are his son’s bass guitar, artwork and other personal items, including a gold record. As for the frontman’s ashes, Brockie claims Gwar swiped and locked them away at the office of their management company, Slave Pit. Brockie was reportedly denied entrance when he tried to retrieve the ashes last May, and, per the suit, was eventually given “a small fraction of his son’s ashes which were delivered in a used plastic bag with Discover credit card logo on it.”

In a statement, Gwar admitted they had not seen the actual lawsuit papers, but said the claims — as reported in the Richmond alt-weekly, Style Weekly — were entirely false.

“We did not steal Dave Brockie’s ashes, or anything else that belonged to him,” the band wrote. “In fact, all of the items mentioned in the article, including Dave’s ashes, have been available to his attorneys for weeks. At all times, and under very trying circumstances, we have acted in good faith to honor the wishes of our dear friend. Dave left no will or instructions for final arrangements, and so we have done the best we could to honor what we believe Dave Brockie would have wanted.”

Elsewhere, the band said that William Brockie did not want to be involved in making final arrangements for his son, nor did anyone in the band attempt to steal Brockie’s personal items. They also said Dave, like the rest of Gwar, was paid up front for his last leg of touring, and that the papers Flanagan signed were perfectly legal.

“Dave Brockie was our friend, peer, co-worker, and our family,” the band wrote. “We want to preserve the legacy of one of the greatest singers in rock and roll history. There is no ‘conspiracy,’ no bad faith, no theft, no graft, and no ill will.”

Gwar’s full statement regarding William Brockie’s lawsuit

We have not yet seen the actual lawsuit papers, and thus cannot comment on the substance of the lawsuit brought against GWAR by Dave Brockie’s father, William Brockie, but we can say that the claims in the Style Weekly article are false. We did not steal Dave Brockie’s ashes, or anything else that belonged to him. In fact, all of the items mentioned in the article, including Dave’s ashes have been available to his attorneys for weeks. At all times, and under very trying circumstances, we have acted in good faith to honor the wishes of our dear friend. Dave left no will or instructions for final arrangements, and so we have done the best we could to honor what we believe Dave Brockie would have wanted.

The accusation concerning Dave’s ashes is particularly troubling for us. Following Dave’s passing, the first thing we did was notify his father, who signed over Dave’s body so we could have him cremated. We were told by Dave’s father that he did not want to be involved in making Dave’s final arrangements. For this reason, Slave Pit assumed that responsibility, paying for his cremation, arranging two memorial services (one public and one private), and purchasing a plot for Dave in Richmond’s famed Hollywood Cemetery. Dave’s father did not attend either of the services held for his son in Richmond.

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. In the weeks following his death, we developed a plan for a memorial fund that would raise money to honor Dave’s memory with a statue in Hollywood Cemetery and work to continue his passionate support of the arts. We felt strongly that a portion of his remains should live at the site of his proposed monument in Hollywood Cemetery. When William Brockie later approached us, we released a portion of the ashes at his request, so he could spread them in the location where Dave’s brother and mother’s ashes were dispersed.

Concerning the other allegations in the article, there was certainly no effort on the part of anyone in GWAR, including drummer Brad Roberts, to steal or hide Dave’s belongings and personal effects either from his home or office. Dave, like the rest of GWAR, was paid upfront for his final leg of touring with GWAR. The claim that we failed to pay his share of royalties from Slave Pit Inc. is false, and we have the records to prove that. We have been in correspondence with William Brockie and his lawyers for months. They have access to the band’s financial records, and Dave’s payments and share of royalties are clearly recorded. Likewise, William Brockie’s attorneys have an itemized list of the small collection of Dave’s art and belongings at Slave Pit. There was never an attempt on the part of Slave Pit to withhold these items from William Brockie. When his attorneys finally identified the particular things they wanted, we made arrangements to return them immediately. Dave’s remains, as well as his belongings, including the instruments and the gold record mentioned in the article were given to our lawyers, who in turn notified the Brockie estate that they could retrieve them weeks ago.

The Dave Brockie Fund did indeed raise money toward our initial goal of building a monument to Dave in Hollywood Cemetery. Unfortunately, its mission has been put on hold because William Brockie’s attorneys claim that the Brockie estate should have control of the Dave Brockie Fund and the money contained therein. If we are ultimately unable to use the funds for the purpose for which they are raised, the funds will be returned to all contributing donors.

Finally, our manager, Jack Flanagan has been unjustly accused of signing a bogus release. At the request of our attorneys, he signed some paperwork to make his position clear on what he thought Dave would have wanted, which is something that the law of Virginia specifically asks for, given Jack’s relationship with the band and with Dave. There is nothing bogus about this.

Dave Brockie was our friend, peer, co-worker, and our family. We want to preserve the legacy of one of the greatest singers in rock and roll history. There is no “conspiracy,” no bad faith, no theft, no graft, and no ill will. We trust our fans will see through this, and we will be able to get back to work on the one thing we all know Dave Brockie loved; GWAR.

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