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GWAR to keep touring despite guitarist's death on tour bus in Pembina, N.D.

Guitarist Cory Smoot, stage name Flattus Maximus, was found dead Thursday in Pembina. He was 34. Special to The Forum

PEMBINA, N.D. - GWAR, the sci-fi heavy-metal band, will continue its North American tour despite the fact its lead guitarist was found dead Thursday in Pembina.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the death of Cory Smoot, 34, continues, according to Pembina County Sheriff Brian Erovick.

Band frontman David Brockie posted a long comment on the band's website while the tour bus drove toward Edmonton, Alberta, where the band had a concert scheduled Friday.

"We have lost a brother, a husband, a son and one of the most talented musicians that ever slung an ax," Brockie wrote. He said how Smoot died "will not be known until the medical officials have finished their work."

Sheriff Erovick said his deputies responded Thursday morning to a call and found Smoot's body in his bunk on the tour bus in Pembina.

The circumstances surrounding Smoot's death won't be discussed until the autopsy report is completed, Erovick said Friday in a news release.

Brockie described his last day with Smoot, who used the stage name Flattus Maximus.

"The last time I saw Cory was after our show in Minneapolis on Wednesday night," he said. "It was a great show at First Avenue in Minneapolis, one of our favorite places to play. Cory was happy. He was excited about the band and especially the new studio he was building in the Slave Pit back in Richmond, Va."

The band, described as satiric, sci-fi and heavy metal, using over-the-top performance art involving fake blood and other kinds of goo, was formed in 1984 in Richmond. It's gone through several phases and many members, several of them using the Flattus Maximus character and name. Brockie said the name now will be retired after Smoot's death.

"He was deeply in love with his wife, Jamie, and was busily planning their family and future in the beautiful home they had," he said.

An employee of First Avenue, a downtown Minneapolis club, told a Twin Cities reporter he thinks the band left on its bus about midnight Wednesday after its show.

The drive from downtown Minneapolis to Pembina is about 400 miles and would take six to seven hours; the weather was good, and roads were dry.

Apparently during the trip, Smoot died in his bunk.

As the band pulled into Pembina, which is 75 miles north of Grand Forks, they discovered Smoot was dead, Brockie said.

"We found Cory the next morning as we collected passports for a border crossing," Brockie said. "He was in his bunk, unresponsive, and it quickly was clear that he was dead. It was without a doubt the most horrible moment of my life. That's all I can say about it.

"Within moments everybody was off the bus, standing in a wind-swept parking lot in the middle of nowhere, trying to come to grips with the shock of it. First the ambulance arrived, and then the police, but there was nothing that could be done other than fully investigate the scene and remove Cory with care and respect."

The band spent the day in the Red Roost motel in Pembina and left Thursday night to continue its tour in Canada. Brockie said Smoot would want the band to continue to play.

"We are completely devastated and shocked beyond belief. One night we had our friend and colleague, happy and healthy in the middle of our best tour in years - and the next morning, so suddenly, he was gone," Brockie wrote. "Never have I seen starker proof of the fragility of life.

"Cory will be transported home to Richmond over the next few days, and an announcement regarding services will be made soon."