Eric Wagner, the iconic former singer for doom metal groups Trouble and The Skull, was opposed to taking a COVID-19 vaccine according to his bandmate Ron Holzner in a Chicago Reader tribute feature. This stance was a place of disagreement between the two up until Wagner’s death from COVID pneumonia on August 22.
The Skull had been on tour with The Obsessed before their performances came to a screeching halt as the Delta variant assisted in yet another massive spike of COVID-19 cases. Soon after, Wagner would be hospitalized just five days prior to his death.
“We argued about it, and he stood his ground on the matter,” said Holzner. “I always joked, ‘The World According to Eric Wagner—you should write a book.’ He lived his life his way.”
Scott Carlson, a bassist and vocalist for metal bands such as Repulsion, Death and Cathedral, credits Wagner’s former band as having a large influence on him as a metal musician. “Trouble were the real kind of heavy,” said Carlson. “The Sabbath/Priest kind of heavy that you can’t achieve simply by down-tuning and a loud amplifier. Their very essence had weight. [Despite] my obsession with speed and extremity at the time, Trouble’s first two slow, doom-laden records were among my very favorites. I even named my first band, Tempter, after a Trouble song.”
The sudden death of Wagner left Holzner reflecting on their last performance together in Austin. “During the last song of the night, Eric turned to me and pointed at me and mouthed the words, ‘Thank you, I love you.’ He has done this over the years to me… this night he did it to Henry, Lothar, and Matt as well,” said Holzner. “I thought, wow… that’s cool. He died exactly two weeks later… I can’t stop thinking about it now.”
Revisit mxdwn’s review of The Skull’s project For Those Which Are Asleep.