A day after the body of Drowning Pool frontman Dave Williams was discovered on the band's tour bus, details remained scarce but memories of Williams as a fun-loving, kind-hearted character abounded.
The 30-year-old singer was found in his bunk by members of Drowning Pool's touring crew Wednesday afternoon, their publicist said (see "Drowning Pool Singer Found Dead"). The band was in Manassas, Virginia, on its way to Thursday's Ozzfest show in Bristow.
An autopsy conducted Thursday morning proved inconclusive, according to a Prince William County police spokesperson. A cause of death is expected to be determined from toxicology tests, which generally take four to six weeks.
A public service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Plano Center, 200 East Spring Creek Parkway in Plano, Texas.
"Dave Williams was a beautiful man both inside and out," the Osbourne family said in a collective statement. "He is gone but will not be soon forgotten. We send our love to his family and bandmembers."
"Dave Williams was one of a kind, and a friend to everyone he met," the surviving members of Drowning Pool — guitarist C.J. Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton and drummer Mike Luce — said in a statement. "He was a good man and a giving person. Not a day went by when he wasn't giving somebody a little present and touching everyone around him with his passion. He was full of energy until the day he passed and undeniably full of life. To the end, we were having a great time. We will miss him."
System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan remembered Williams as "a joy to be around," while the band's singer, Serj Tankian, wished him well in the hereafter: "I hope that wherever his energy is, that place is deserving of his smile."
Although concertgoers will no longer see Drowning Pool on the Ozzfest main stage, Williams and his band will still have a presence. Ill Niño drummer Dave Chavarri, a close friend of Williams, plans to pay tribute by hanging a Drowning Pool banner behind his drum kit and having singer Cristian Machado use Williams' mic stand to perform.
"We basically went onstage in tears yesterday," Chavarri said of his band's solo gig Wednesday. "In this business you meet 10 people a day, but there will never be anyone like him."
Williams' passing stunned the music world. By all accounts, he was one of the friendliest and most personable guys in all of rock. His peers and his fans made it clear he'll be sadly missed and fondly remembered.
"He was the sweetest man you'll ever come across in your life," Disturbed singer David Draiman said. "[He] didn't have a bad bone in his body. ... Everyone loved him. I don't know a single person that has ever met Dave Williams and not just instantly fallen in love with him. He could charm anyone to death. He was a very special guy. It's shocking."
"Dave was always with the crowd and with the fans," remembered Elias Soriano, singer for fellow Ozzfest band Nonpoint. "He truly was what a rock frontman should be — sweet, charismatic and just great to watch. From the first time I met the band, I couldn't believe how completely genuine Dave was."
"I am shocked by the death of Dave Williams," 21-year-old Jessica, from Brighton, Michigan, wrote (see "You Tell Us: Remembering Dave Williams"). "I had met him a few times at various concerts and was instantly charmed by him. He took the time to walk around the Orbit Room in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and tell funny stories. He seemed like the type of person that all other rock stars should take heed from. ... He was the only rock star I have met that didn't act like one."
Even after Drowning Pool had crisscrossed the country several times in support of their platinum debut, last year's Sinner, Williams, the big-hearted country boy, stayed tied to his roots and rarely passed up an opportunity to give something back to his community.
"He was a great, down-to-earth, fun-loving type of guy," remembered 21-year-old Kevin, from Princeton, Texas, in a letter to MTV News. "Every time he came back to town, he would visit the school and say hi to everyone. I thought that was so cool of him. I never saw him turn down an autograph or a hug from a screaming fan. He loved what his music had made him and used that to change a lot of people's lives. He gave a lot of people the chance to say, 'I have met a superstar!' "
"Dave was a true brother to us," Pantera's Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul said in a statement. "All the success, platinum records, etc., never changed him. He was always the same big-hearted, fun-loving Dave, never a rock star — just Dave. He loved music, and most of all he loved his family, friends and fans."
As the popularity of Sinner's first single, the moshpit anthem "Bodies," swelled early last summer, so too did Drowning Pool's status as one of rock's burgeoning newcomers. Throughout the whirlwind ascension, which allowed the band to move from an early morning slot on the third stage of Ozzfest to a place on the main stage by tour's end, Williams kept a level head.
"You just have to take everything with a grain of salt," he said in July 2001. "Celebrate and be proud, but don't lose track of the big picture. Go do your show, get to places you've never been and entertain your audience. That's our whole driving force — the audience, the fans, that's what it's all about. It's fun, and you can enjoy it."
Williams' enthusiasm for his art was matched only by his modesty. "We are just four jackasses from Texas who love to play music," he said. "We love doing what we do for the audience and making all these friends on tour. ... To me, the biggest reward is to get up and play music every day."
Those who came in contact with Williams describe him as warm and good-natured. He often stayed at a venue long after Drowning Pool's set to hang out with fans and sign autographs. At a Florida stop on this year's Ozzfest, with temperatures well into the high, humid 90s, Williams was visibly exhausted and drenched with sweat after Drowning Pool's stint onstage. Nevertheless, he gave autographs for more than two hours.
Williams was also a notorious cut-up, performing stunts and gags that are the stuff of touring-band folklore — from bursting into Sevendust's dressing room wearing nothing but a cape and some duct tape to busting guts with a spot-on Sebastian Bach impression.
"[That he was nice guy] was an understatement," said John Connolly, guitarist for Sevendust, who gave Drowning Pool a break by tapping them to open a string of shows. Connolly met Williams in 1995, when the latter was roommates with Connolly's future wife. "He had the biggest heart of any person. All he wanted to do was make people laugh, smile, that was it. He wanted to entertain. He wanted to make people have a good time at whatever cost. When everything else could suck, Dave would walk into a room and you couldn't help but laugh. He was just a cool guy to be around."
"Uniquely cool" is how Coal Chamber's Dez Fafara remembered him. Coal Chamber and Drowning Pool toured together on this spring's Jägermeister Tour. "He was one of the most down-to-earth guys ever. He used to come and bring me horror movies and we'd sit around. Just a good guy. A lot of times you meet musicians and they've got an ego. That guy had none."
If Williams was a good-humored goofball offstage, he was a bad-ass singer and frontman on it. His stage presence was so commanding, Darrell nicknamed him "Stage."
Connolly recalled, "I remember standing on the stage with [Stereomud bassist] Corey Lowery, who said, 'You know what, he's the best frontman I've ever seen.' I agreed because of the way he commands an audience. It didn't matter what kind of crowd you threw in front of him, he was going to find a way to get that crowd into the show, whether you liked the music or not."
"He was very powerful," explained Draiman. "He was very much from the Phil Anselmo school, but with a smile. He pretty much embodied what a South Texas metal frontman would sort of be — very good-hearted, very positive toward the audience. Always trying to take them to the next level. He could sing very sweetly and could also scream like the devil."
Flowers can be sent care of:
Hwy 75 at Exit 38
McKinney, TX 75069
Anything other than flowers can be sent to:
P.O. Box 1007
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Joe D'Angelo, with additional reporting by
Iann Robinsonand Jon Wiederhorn