Eric Wagner, who helped pioneer the “doom” genre of heavy metal rock, passed away on Aug. 22 at the age of 62. He reportedly died of COVID-related pneumonia.
The Chicago Reader broke the news of his death. According to the outlet, Wagner contracted COVID while on tour with his band The Skull. Several people on the tour also contracted the virus, causing the tour to stop after an Aug. 8 show in Austin, Texas. Three weeks later, Wagner passed away.
Ron Holzner, the bassist for Eric Wagner’s early band Trouble and recent band The Skull, told The Chicago Reader how the singer tried to take care of himself towards the end of his life. But Wagner stood firmly opposed to any kind of “institutionalized medicine” from “Big Pharma” companies. So, the doom metal singer refused to get vaccinated against COVID.
“We argued about it, and he stood his ground on the matter,” Holzner told the outlet. “I always joked, ‘The World According to Eric Wagner—you should write a book.’ He lived his life his way.”
Eric Wagner was born in Aurora, Illinois, on April 24, 1959. He joined his first band at age 18, and shortly after that joined Trouble, in 1979. The singer stayed with the band until 2008, eventually breaking off to join other groups and start up his own.
Wagner’s band Trouble, according to The Chicago Reader, became “one of the heads on the Mount Rushmore of doom” music. Eric Wagner himself influenced several other doom singers and groups throughout this lifetime, including Nathan Carson of the group Witch Mountain.
Eric Wagner’s Doom Metal Legacy
“What’s really sad to me is that he was making some of the best music of his life in the Skull,” Nathan Carson told The Chicago Reader. “He’d always been wise for his years, but now he actually had the years under his belt. All of this came through in the lyrics, the sound of his voice, and his stage presence. He was a master who everyone knows deserved to be better known and on bigger stages. And I am certain he had several more albums’ worth of timeless music ready to pour out, if only he’d cared enough to protect himself.”
Wagner created The Skull in 2012, recruiting Trouble bassist Ron Holzner. The bassist confirmed that some of Eric Wagner’s music will be released posthumously, in a solo record he finished up earlier this year. Doom-metal fans can listen to it come early 2022.
Even though Eric Wagner died relatively young and in a horrible fashion, his music will stay with fans for years to come.
“Drowning in your own lungs is a terrible way to die. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” Nathan Carson said. “But at least he had his beliefs. He felt he was going to a better place, so that probably took some of the edge off in the end. The music world is poorer without his voice, though. I really hoped he would live so that he could use that voice to send a message that this virus is no hoax. Instead, his legacy is an example of its own. Thankfully the music is forever.”