Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Saying Goodbye to "Brother" Bruce Corbitt - by Orlando Logan Olivero
While in between my various activities, I decided to remark on the passing of a dear friend of mine. It is far too important a thing, not only for the sake of mournful acceptance, but also for the nature of the individual’s impact on the arts. On the morning of January 25th 2019 - It was announced that Texas Music Legend, Bruce Corbitt passed away after an immensely difficult battle with Esophageal cancer. He fought a long, grueling, 21 months and defied the odds as he was told he had only had 3 months from date of his initial diagnosis. This entire ordeal would become a very slow sadness.
Bruce Corbitt was part of a movement of underground metal that I had grown-up with in the early 90s. The Rigor Mortis name and demo were passed around and often listened to during our weekend sleepovers and hangout sessions. My buddy, Raymundo had these two older brothers. Me and Ray were like in the 4th or 5th grade. His brothers were already in 8th and 9th grade. That meant “old” and “wise” in the ways of experience and metal. If you knew someone that was just a few years older and had access to metal and rated R movies, you had a “connection”. So at an early age, me and my South Texas buddies were often spending weekends listening to his brothers’ cassettes along with whatever we would bring to the table. I’d make sure to bring my own metal mix tapes (A few blank ones so that I could record what they had as well). So, in order to further illustrate my tastes and mindset, allow me to present a hodgepodge example of my world at the time: Castlevania 2 - Simon’s Quest, Iron Maiden, Return of the Living Dead, Megaman 2, X-men Comics, Painting Miniatures, Transformers, Drawing and making comics, The Misfits/ Danzig, King Diamond, Iron maiden again, The Satanic Bible, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead 2 over and over, Star Wars over and over, Playboys under the mattress, and bands like RIGOR FUCKING MORTIS!
So why the hell would I not like Rigor Mortis? They spoke to me because they delved deep into the media that I had a high affinity for. It made me feel less childish perhaps to know that “older” guys in a cool band all were into horror movies and art. So let’s go ahead and fast forward to maybe ten years later when I actually MET Rigor Mortis and saw them for the first time with the original lineup. That was in San Marcos, Texas at a place called Lucy’s. That was a show that they performed for me and just three other individuals. That, was one of the most magical live music experiences that I’ve had to this day. I think the guys in Rigor Mortis have gotten bored with that story since every now and then, I will remind them of that time just because it was so special. And it was that time that Bruce and I had first officially met and began communicating. Don’t worry, I’ll definitely go more into that show in the future. It was a wild experience especially getting to know Mike Scaccia. So we communicated via Myspace, e-mail, and Facebook later on. I had seen Bruce numerous times whether it was for another Rigor show or Warbeast. Truth be told, he and Casey were and still are big heroes to me. What they developed in their various ventures were inspirations for everything that I do with Terranodon Media. Also, ( a funny little tidbit relating to that night ) there was a picture of Herschell Gordon Lewis (Wizard of Gore director ) with both Bruce and Casey. They both were wearing the same shirt. The shirt that I had given them on that day, my old band “Vows in Ashes”. Imagine just how giddy I was to see that three icons were hanging out, two of which were wearing my shirt. It’s the little things that matter most.
So there are other events that occurred after that time frame, but it is way too much to discuss at the moment. One of these days, I may share such stories, if for nothing else, my memory archives or perhaps on a podcast. So let’s go back to 2017. Bruce and I had talked about doing a show in Austin for Warbeast. Warbeast was putting out a new album, afterall. But soon after we had begun the initial promotion, Bruce made an announcement. Initially, I had thought that his issues with heart disease had worsened. This was something on a completely different level. It was, in fact, cancer. The underground metal world was shaken by the news and an onpour of support began throughout this journey. I, myself, joined the cause without any hesitation. I helped put together the Bruce Corbitt Benefit in 2017 when we had first heard the news. Initially, the show was going to feature one of my bands directly supporting Warbeast. However, that soon changed as we learned about the news. Instead, we turned that into a benefit show to where all proceeds went to Bruce and the Corbitt family. This sentiment, of course, was supported by Jim the owner of the Texas Mist. There were thousands raised. Two of Bruce’s friends, came down to help support and help auction off some of Bruce’s items. We played the new Warbeast album, The Hanged Man’s Curse would cover Rigor Mortis’ “Re-animator”, and much fun and celebration was had that night. When I showed Bruce the flyer where I depicted a giant-sized Bruce along the mascots for both Rigor Mortis and Warbeast, he told me that he was in tears. I had to let him know that I try my best to honor my heroes with my art.
In support of the awareness, I even created a Rigor Mortis action figure as a gift for Bruce. Bruce fell in love with the figure when I sent it to him. He told me that he began to cry because it was always his dream to get “toys” for the band. He pleaded with me numerous times to make more and more so that people could enjoy them. At his wedding vow renewal ceremony he brought it up. I told him “ Dude that can happen, but it’s going to be hard to do with materials and I’ll have to sculpt a head. But it is possible. Very possible”. But at Frightmare he finally convinced me. Honestly, tt didn’t take much, because looking at him smile like a kid in a candy shop while holding the new “Sog” toy was enough to convince me to do everything I could to make it happen. And that is exactly what I did in early 2018. Over 20 have been produced and Bruce graciously signed a number of them as well. So he was happy knowing that this was happening and that his band, Rigor Mortis, had their own line of action figures. Something very few others can say. You have Ozzy, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, The Misfits, and Now RIGOR MORTIS. Anything for my heroes.
But let’s get back on how Bruce impacted the world. He was a visionary but viewed the world with such innocence and playfulness. He really enjoyed life and the people around him. When I’ d go see him in Dallas he was always surrounded by people and friends who adored his presence. His light was so bright. Bruce wanted so much out of life and wanted to create much more. He managed to release several documentaries - one of which was for Rigor Mortis. He was tickled when I told him that I ordered and displayed it at the Public Library that I worked at. Bruce was also so proud of his work with Warbeast. During the entire ordeal, he was focused more on how his bandmates were suffering. His selflessness and humble acts continued. More and more, I began to see Bruce share other people’s charities and other people’s fundraisers. He was constantly raising awareness for others even while he was suffering.
I had spoken to Bruce a week prior to his death to remind him constantly of what he meant to me and everyone else. He exemplified the humane, the creative, and the jovial qualities that most should aspire towards. His music and art changed the world for the better. I contemplated visiting him at his home “ The Batcave”. But, I knew he needed time with his closest loved ones. It is a regret I’ll always have, but we still spoke. I will remember; however, our last encounter. During the final Warbeast show with Bruce a few months back, we were talking as if nothing at all was going on. Just nonchalant “how’s this” and “how’s that”. I Showed him one of the new Rigor Mortis “ Sog” sculptures I was working on. I recall telling him that I’d see him again soon. Before we parted he hugged me.He said, “ I love you, brother”. I held back my tears and told him “ I love you to man. You need to know that you are my hero”.
I think Bruce Corbitt came to that realization that he had that effect on everyone. At least, I hope he did. So this brings us to where we go from here. It’s been a long, 21 months.And although Bruce may be gone, his legacy will continue to thrive. That is, of course, if we help to do that. Knowing Bruce, he would want people not to mourn but to rather celebrate and enjoy life as he did, to be accepting of all and unashamed with the things that make you happy. I hope people in the generations to come will appreciate and understand his contributions to music and art. Long live the legacy of the immortal, Bruce Corbitt!!!!