This Week In Metal (6/4/15 - 12/4/15)

Three bands seem to have hogged all the drama this week, chief amongst them being heavy metal’s founding fathers. Black Sabbath have cancelled plans for a farewell concert at the Ozzfest in Japan this November, announced last month by Sharon Osbourne. A Facebook update on Thursday declared “Despite previous reports, Black Sabbath will not appear on this year’s Ozzfest Japan. The show will instead feature the festival’s namesake, Ozzy Osbourne (and friends). The assumption seemed to be that the show had been called off due to of a recurrence of Tony Iommi’s lymphoma, and fearful rumours were soon flying around about the guitar hero’s health. But the Iron Man himself took to Facebook to set minds at rest: “Thank you for all the enquiries about my health. Very kind. I’m not sure how the rumour started as I was away on holiday,” he wrote, adding “Once you’ve had something like lymphoma, the fear that it will return never leaves. All I can say is that right now I’m fine, and I have regular blood tests.” The real reason for the cancellation seems to be that the plans hadn’t been properly finalised before Sharon’s hasty announcement; an unnamed band spokesperson admitted to Rolling Stone “Although there have been discussions about a farewell tour, nothing has been confirmed.”

An ugly legal spat has flared up this week between GWAR and William Brockie, the father of the band’s late frontman Dave – aka Oderus Urungus. William Brockie, the administrator of his son’s estate, has filed a lawsuit against the band, claiming that the estate hasn’t been fully paid for Dave’s last tour, that the group stole Dave’s bass guitars, artwork and personal effects, attempted to take control of Dave’s estate away from his father, and even stole Dave’s cremated remains. William Brockie is suing the band for $1 million in compensatory damages, plus alleged breach of contract and unauthorised use of Dave’s image. The lawsuit also demands the return of Brockie’s ashes to the family.

GWAR refute all of these allegations, insisting on Facebook “We did not steal Dave Brockie’s ashes, or anything else that belonged to him. At all times, and under very trying circumstances, we have acted in good faith to honour 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 honour what we believe Dave Brockie would have wanted.”

The band point out that their management company Slave Pit Inc assumed all responsibility for Dave’s funeral, his two memorial services and his plot in the Hollywood Cemetery. “The accusation concerning Dave’s ashes is particularly troubling for us,” the statement continues. “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.” It is very strange to see this forcefully outrageous band who never took anything seriously embroiled in such a depressing and sensitive predicament. Whatever the outcome, after such a raw public experience of bereavement and litigation, will the Scumdogs Of The Universe still be able to convince us they’re devil-may-care bad-taste entertainers from space?

Finally, the Megadeth soap opera too another twist this week. Dave Mustaine tweeted that the band had fifteen new songs already finished, and that Dave Ellefson was going to “freak” when he heard the band’s new guitarist Kiko Louriero and temp drummer Chris Adler playing together. But ex-drummer Nick Menza’s not so happy. He says he spent a weekend in December jamming with Mustaine, met with the band’s manager Ron Laffitte, was invited to rejoin and even recorded drums on new material, but when it came to negotiate a contract, “I was offered a very unfair deal that was so wrong. They didn’t feel I was worth anything to the band. Dave blocked my emails, changed his number and then, apparently, Laffitte was fired as the band’s manager.” He continues: “I am really blown away how this band conducts business. A band is about a group of people who have respect for one another, sense of loyalty, camaraderie, and, most of all, honour and trust. I’m not a puppet. I have integrity, loyalty, and honour. That’s who I am.”

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.