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24 March, 2014

Goodbye, Dave Brockie

Dave Brockie, during his stint with Virginia Beach Police Department

Suddenly today, there were a bunch of hits here, which is unusual. When I tracked them back to the source, it was an article about the death of David Brockie, founder of Death Piggy, and later, GWAR. Sadness.

I'd pretty much left Richmond by the time GWAR came about, but always enjoyed Death Piggy more. So much so, that 30 years after dancing to their manic music, it seemed important to post about their place in the history of punk, the post which is getting all the hits now, apparently because of the Death Piggy image I posted then and there, and here:

David Brockie and I were not friends, and he wouldn't remember me, but he influenced who I became. The random hilarity of Death Piggy, the utter freedom expressed by a band who could get up and play a song consisting entirely of the words "No prob dude," the refusal to plummet into the pitfalls of many a hardcore band (brick-headed hate, intoxicated inability to perform, and maybe worst of all, sanctimonious preachiness), and the commitment to just having fun stuck with me.

The internet, especially those cul-de-nut-sacs where know-it-all critics lurk, is full of references to the ridiculousness of Death Piggy, but without much appreciation of what a gift it was. They use terms like "Silly Core," and treat Death Piggy as a joke precursor to GWAR, which of course is the opposite of what really happened; GWAR was the Death Piggy sideshow that took over. That Death Piggy did not depend on spike-studded leather or huge mohawks to express their hardcore punkness did not mean that they could not thrash out noise with the best of 'em.

Dave Brockie was a leader in the Richmond punk scene because he did not act like a leader. He didn't give a shit how you danced when they played. He did not write lyrics preaching a Message (a Mess, maybe, but that's another thing entirely). He rode the GWAR waves, but as far as I can tell, did not become an insufferable asshole. He was a self-mocking artist. His "time waster" posts (on some site I cannot re-find now) would show up every so often as I surfed the net--one of my favorites was a screed about art in Richmond, especially the Lady Diana Mural and the Bojangles statue, which he correctly recognized as a racist city's backhanded insult, tucked away off the main (white people) drag and appearing to have been literally slapped together out of shit.

It's sad to lose a creative force. It's a loss to have a rebel die. Personal friend or not, I'm pretty sad. Maybe these lyrics, from the first Death Piggy release, will help:

BATHTUB IN SPACE (by Death Piggy)

I tried to get out, I tried to dry off
But when I got out it called my bluff
Bathtub in space, bathtub in space
Once you get in what a difference you make

I went up in space, I've given up hope
When I got out I slipped on the soap
Bathtub in space, bathtub in space
Bathtub in space what a difference it'll make

We're all in bathtubs, given up hope
What's that mean but soap on a rope

Bathtub in space, high above earth
You know I'm covered in cosmic dirt
Bathtub in space, bathtub in space
Once you get in what a difference it'll make

Time for a nice long soak.


  1. I became a huge Gwar fan around 13 years old. I naturally ended up learning of Death Piggy, and being a collector and fan of obscure memorabilia, searched high and low for the 3 Death Piggy albums they made. I collected the self-titled and Death Rules the Fairway, but have not been able to find R 45 yet. I am bent on that day coming.
    I was never a part of the Richmond scene, but have always admired it from afar. Me and my cousin Marcia have been obsessed with all of Dave's brilliant, hilarious, unique and and completely original work. The world is much dimmer without him. All hail Gwar! All hail Death Piggy!

    1. I have no more Death Piggy, the cassette I'd taped of their stuff having bit the dust long ago. Dave was selling hand-painted 45s for a while online, but I never got any, and may never manage too at this point.

      So mostly what I have now are echoing memories to go along with the ringing in my ears from being right in front of the speakers at Richmond shows. Totally worth it.

    2. Also, the photo is a personal snapshot my sister took. Outside of Hard Times, I think, a club where they played. Until I scanned it, the print was the only copy in existence. But now it's on the net, so it's free. Rip, copy, and spread it as you will.