By Gary Robertson
RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - David Brockie, frontman for the Grammy nominated "extraterrestrial" metal band Gwar, died of an accidental heroin overdose in March, the Virginia State Medical Examiner's Office said on Tuesday.
Brockie, 50, who gained an international fan base performing as a 43-billion-year-old alien vocalist for the satirical band, was found by his roommate on March 23 dead in his Richmond home.
Brockie died from "acute heroin toxicity and the manner of death is accident,” Arkuie Williams, administrator of the medical examiner's office, said in an email.
U.S. deaths from heroin have soared as prescription painkiller abusers turn to the drug because it is cheaper. Across the United States, the number of fatal opiate overdoses increased 45 percent from 2006 to 2010.
Brockie's band had returned earlier in March from a tour in Japan.
Jack Flanagan, the band’s manager, could not immediately be reached for comment on the future of Gwar. Don Drakulich, another founder of the band and one of its costume and prop makers, declined to comment.
Brockie helped found Gwar, billed on its website as "Earth’s only openly extra-terrestrial rock band," in the 1980s with fellow art students at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Grammy nominated group gained a worldwide following for its mix of thrash metal, grotesque costumes and outrageous stage shows.
Described by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper in 2007 as "the mutant child of early '80s hair music," Gwar's onstage antics included simulated urination, dismemberment of lifesize puppets and lots of fake blood. It released its latest album last year.
Performing as "Oderus Urungus," Brockie wore an elaborate costume of a horned mask, shoulder pads, massive helmets and armor with blades jutting out it.
In a profanity-laced 2014 television interview produced by Australia's Soundwave music festival, Brockie said performing sober was not part of the act.
"For me, being wasted is not being wasted. When I'm sober, that's being wasted, literally," he said while in full costume, a bottle in one armored hand.
(Reporting by Gary Robertson; Editing by Ian Simpson and Andre Grenon)