Bruce Kendall Corbitt
December 22, 1962 - January 25, 2019
“And in the end, the love we take is equal to the love we make.” –The Beatles
Bruce Corbitt’s contribution to the world of music will be cherished forever through his epic recordings as the Vocalist for the speed metal band Rigor Mortis and the thrash outfit Warbeast, on Capitol Records and Housecore Records respectively. We will be reminded of Bruce everyday from seeing memes about his name-sake Batman, to hearing music he loved on the radio including The Beatles, Aerosmith and Iron Maiden or when watching football. His fun youthful spirit will continue to inspire us, as will his kindness and generosity in helping others through benefit shows.
Bruce will be lovingly remembered by his wife Jeanna, daughter Chyna, step-son Lyric, and mother Glenda. He will also be fondly remembered by all his nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, band mates, fans, and both the heart health and cancer communities. He was preceded in death by his brother Jeff Corbitt, his father Jack Corbitt, and his Rigor Mortis band mate and dear friend Mike Scaccia.
Legendary Metal Icon Leaves Indelible Mark on Local Music
By Christian McPhate
Bruce Corbitt spent his life pursuing his American dream onstage. Named after the Caped Crusader, he wore his long hair like a heavy metal barbarian, wielded a chainlink microphone like a magical weapon, and slayed fans around the world with his rapid-fire vocals.
When he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer more than a year ago, he poured the same energy and intensity he unleashed onstage into his fight with an enemy that kills approximately 1,620 people each day, according to the American Cancer Society.
This Batman-esque willpower helped him survive multiple stabbings in the ’80s and, more recently, heart disease. It kept him going when his Stage 3 diagnosis became Stage 4 in December 2017 and was on full display when he entered hospice care on January 11 of this year. He died on Friday afternoon at age 56.
“This is the bravest man I will ever know,” wrote his wife Jenna Corbitt on Facebook shortly after his death. “He fought so hard, and instead of three months, he ended up with 21 of them. I will love you forever for many reasons but most of all because of the way you loved me. R.I.P., Bruce Corbitt. You know damn well you will never be forgotten.”
Corbitt first rose to prominence in the local metal scene in the ’80s when he became the frontman for local thrash metal icons Rigor Mortis. It was a dream come true for the fan-turned-singer, whose machine-gun vocals were the perfect match for the light-speed licks of his friend and guitarist Mike Scaccia. The band would eventually land a deal with Capitol Records.
Corbitt and Rigor Mortis parted ways shortly after the release of its self-titled debut album, a move that bassist Casey Orr later said was a mistake. More than a decade passed before the original members reunited in 2005. The quartet landed onstage at Ozzfest in Dallas and headed overseas to play a festival in Europe.
Corbitt would go on to form Warbeast with local metal stalwarts Alan Bovee, Joe “Blue” Gonzalez, Rick Perry, and Scott Shelby. Shortly after their formation, the band landed a record deal with Housecore Records, a label founded by former Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, and released three pulverizing albums –– 2010’s Krush the Enemy, 2013’s Destroy, and 2017’s Enter the Arena –– and one split EP, 2013’s War of the Gargantuas, featuring Anselmo singing on two of the four tracks.
Corbitt returned to the studio with Rigor Mortis in 2012 to record a new album. Later that year, they played Corbitt’s 50th birthday bash at The Rail Club in Fort Worth. Scaccia collapsed halfway through the set when he suffered a heart attack. He was pronounced dead at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth at the age of 47. Two years later, Rigor Mortis released Slaves to the Grave.
In 2015, Corbitt discovered he suffered from heart disease and changed his lifestyle. He’d already quit smoking, but he began exercising and changed his diet. In August of that year, he underwent heart ablation surgery and complained that he felt close to death –– a feeling he compared to trying to finish a great horror movie when you’re tired. “You keep nodding off and fighting to stay awake over and over,” he told me. “If I didn’t stay awake, I would have died.”
A few months after a conversation we had in January 2017, doctors discovered a pecan-shaped tumor in his throat and realized it was Stage 3 esophageal cancer. He chronicled his experience on videos posted to Facebook. Some days were better than others, and his fans and loved ones were always there to cheer him on or lend a shoulder to cry on when his battle became overwhelming.
During his two-year fight, he defied doctors’ expectations by living longer than predicted. He returned to the stage last April to renew his vows with his wife and again in July to be inducted into the Fort Worth Music Hall of Fame at the Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards at the iconic Ridglea Theater.
In December, he underwent another experimental treatment. Only this time, his daughter donated her blood to help him. It seemed promising, and he was in good spirits. “Batman and Batgirl joining forces by combining our blood together,” he wrote in a December 27 Facebook post.
A couple of weeks later, his health began deteriorating, and he entered hospice care. He spent several days at the hospital and returned to his Batcave in Irving a week later where, wrapped in an L.A. Rams blanket, he was able to watch his beloved team beat the New Orelans Saints in overtime and head to Super Bowl LIII to face the New England Patriots.
You know damn well he watched the game in heaven.
Bruce, You Did It. You Beat Dallas.
By Jeffery Liles
It was a small poster that the LA Lakers gave to their fans when the Dallas Mavericks were in town for an NBA playoff game. Somehow it found its way into a publicity photo that Capitol Records used for a speed metal band called Rigor Mortis.
At the time, I remember thinking that image was working on more than one level. Here was a band that couldn’t get the respect it deserved right here in our own hometown. Like when this happened: I was working the phone in my office at the Longhorn Ballroom one afternoon, just like any other day, when two kids appeared in the doorway. They wanted to ask me a question, and the vibe was less than cordial.“
Dude, why is Scratch Acid opening up for Megadeth?”
I answered, “Well, I like to do that sometimes, to cross-pollenate artists of differing styles to introduce them to new audiences.”
Bruce Corbitt and Mike Scaccia weren’t buying it. Bruce spoke up first and handed me a cassette tape. “Dude, we’re a much better band to open up that show.” I remember telling him to put the tape over on the pile in the corner and that I would listen to it later. Scaccia did that thing where he sort of spits and said, “Psew. Whatever. He doesn’t give a shit.”
“I think you should listen to it right now,” Bruce said.
I sat there for a second, thinking to myself, OK, these guys aren’t leaving. The sleeve in the cassette shell looked to have been drawn by hand by a high school kid. My expectations were not great. I slipped the tape into my jam box and pressed play.30 seconds into “Re-Animator” I looked at the two of them said, “Holy shit. That’s you?”
When Scaccia’s guitar solo kicked in I could see that we were in uncharted territory, at least for metal bands from Dallas. This guys was pulling noise out of nowhere, weird harmonics and blistering atonal sound that couldn’t have ever been scripted on sheet music. Took less than a minute and I was sold. That afternoon I called the guys in Scratch Acid and told them that I was shifting them over to the upcoming Motorhead show. Thankfully, they were delighted.
Rigor Mortis would be opening for Megadeth at The Longhorn Ballroom.
That was the beginning of a relationship that lasted for years. There were no real artist managers to speak of in Dallas back then, none that would be willing to rep a speed metal band that lived out in Red Oak, anyway. Their timing for our meeting was pretty good, too. Major label A&R reps and talent scouts were just starting to hear about this original music scene blossoming in a neighborhood outside of downtown Dallas called Deep Ellum. Bands like New Bohemians and The Buck Pets were getting a buzz outside of their hometown comfort zone. For decades, rock bands from DFW had dreamed of landing a record deal, but most had no idea how to go about it.
That’s where “Beat Dallas” comes in. Back in the mid-’80s, most local musicians outside of Deep Ellum had accepted the fate of being a copy band. If you wanted to get gigs, you played cover versions of songs by Van Halen or Scorpions or AC/DC. Rigor Mortis had been a garage band at one point, like everyone else, but they quickly outgrew that and began writing and composing their own material.
It was the only way they would ever get out of town.
Safe to say there were no other speed metal bands in Deep Ellum, either. Alternative rock was a brand new thing (The Buck Pets, for one, predated grunge music by five years or so.) Most of the bands in the neighborhood were all different from one another and had but one thing in common: a dedication to originality, and extraordinary musicianship. This was very different than the metal scene that was happening in the mid-cities. A band like Rigor Mortis was never cut out to play at neon rock and roll bars and wet t-shirt contests. Listening to the meticulous arrangements in their songs, they probably would have been better suited to play with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
So I made it a point to introduce Rigor Mortis to everybody in the tiny, 500-person music scene that was then emerging in Deep Ellum. They were immediately embraced by musicians who didn’t play heavy metal; most had never even heard speed metal, in fact, but they were collectively blown away by the band’s musicianship, and by the fact the band wasn’t wearing the heavy metal “costume” of spandex, biker gear and bandana headbands. Their gigs in Deep Ellum were attended by people who were entirely unaware of the genre itself. In many ways, the captive audience there was a blank slate for this band. Because they were at Theatre Gallery, and not sharing the stage with five other metal bands at some rock bar in Arlington, the ability to make an impression came much easier. It wasn’t unusual to see bands like New Bohemians and Loco Gringos standing right in front of the stage whenever Rigor Mortis played in the neighborhood.
So, even though it really wasn’t by design, they found themselves at the right place at the right time.
Mike Alago, the Elektra Records A&R man who found and signed Metallica, made a trip to Dallas to check out the Deep Ellum scene. While he seemed to dig most of the bands that he heard that weekend, he made it a point to sit down with the guys in Rigor Mortis and explain the major label process to them better than I ever could. He was honest and up front about it -- he wasn’t in the position to sign another act that appealed to same base that Metallica appealed to, but he was happy to share the kind of valuable insight and information that very rarely ever trickled down to bands in flyover America.
The next A&R person to make it to town was Kim Buie from Island Records, a label that didn’t really have the internal infrastructure to sign a speed metal band. Kim, like Alago, found RM’s music to be well-crafted and interesting, but she ended up signing the Buck Pets instead. She was also very forthcoming with key information and insight that helped the guys in Rigor Mortis to understand how this business worked at the time.
Third time was a charm. Rachel Matthews, who was an A&R rep from Capitol Records in Los Angeles, was interested in making a trip to Dallas to check out the scene in Deep Ellum. Her reaction to hearing the band’s first demo was very similar to my own -- “Oh my God, is that you?” Within two weeks after hearing the tape, she offered the band a deal with Capitol.
For Bruce Corbitt, this was more than just a validation of hard work and talent. This was the realization that he would be signed to the same record label that put out The Beatles’ records, his favorite group as a child. It was almost too good to be true.
Signing with a major label meant the band would need a “real” manager, other than myself. (I was fine with that, I had a band of my own and things happening with Kim Buie and Island. So it was a smooth transition.) I passed the baton to Charley Brown, who lived in Los Angeles and managed Jane’s Addiction at the time. Mike Scaccia and I went out to LA to meet the other promo folks at Capitol, and to work out the management deal between Charley and the band. We were staying at Kim Buie’s house on the night that a huge earthquake hit. While the building shook violently, the furniture fell over and car alarms went off up and down the street, Scaccia sat there on the couch laughing the entire time.
Nothing would ever phase these guys. They stood in the middle of an earthquake every time they did a show.
While waiting for a meeting with Rachel at the Capitol building, I happened to be standing near the desk of her assistant when Dave Mustaine and the manager of Megadeth walked by. They stopped to say hello to her, and saw a copy of the Rigor Mortis demo cassette on her desk. Mustaine picked it up, made some kind disparaging remark, and tossed it back down. This was the same kind of dismissive, competitive remark that RM would have been accustomed to had they chosen to stay in the mid-cities and go that bar band route. The metal community was particularly competitive.
Bruce Corbitt had that competitive streak, too, and was less than amused when I told him abut the encounter with Mustaine. The gig at the Longhorn was tense, as one might expect. This was their turf, and the guys in Megadeth were less than cordial to their support act that evening. On that particular night, “Beat Dallas” meant something else altogether. As in, “Don’t come to our hometown and think that you can push us around.” There was a big brawl between the bands in back of the venue after the show, and it was obvious that the two label mates would never get along.
Rigor Mortis released their self-titled debut, did a small tour with Death Angel, and then eventually parted ways with Capitol. Bruce would leave the band shortly thereafter.In the years after the release of their debut record, our own paths would go in different directions. Bruce would leave Rigor Mortis and I moved to Los Angeles. We kept in touch on occasion, to talk about football and compare notes on other emerging bands. Scaccia hooked up with Ministry and RevCo, Casey hooked up with the Burden Brothers, The Hellions and GWAR, Harden joined up with Speedealer and Mitra. Bruce would go on to front local metal heroes Warbeast.
In 2005, Rigor Mortis would would finally reunite with the original members. Everyone was more mature now, the record business had virtually collapsed, and the goal was no longer to score a record deal and become a huge thing. The pressure was off now. They were doing it for fun at that point, and the result was that the band actually became more successful than back in the day, when the band had the full weight of a major label behind them. They played at OzzFest in 2008, and then performed at the Keep It True Festival in Germany the next year. In 2012, they began work on Slaves To The Grave, an absolutely extraordinary collection of songs.
On December 23 of that year, Mike Scaccia died with his boots on, while performing onstage at Bruce’s 50th birthday celebration at The Rail Club in Fort Worth. The “Slaves” record would finally be released in October of 2014. The album, produced and mixed by Kerry Crafton, finally delivered documentation of the musical potential that Rigor Mortis always had. To this day, I still find myself driving around town listening to it at full volume from front-to-back.
Bruce Corbitt was proud of his contribution to that album, and his performance on the record cemented his enduring legacy as the front man for the band. Listening to the record, it is impossible not to notice the enormous musical growth of everyone involved. During the downtime when Rigor Mortis broke up and went their separate ways, different musical styles and various artists came and went, and the entire music business went through a weird transformation. Bruce stayed true to his roots until the very end. He and I were born the same year, in 1962, and we bonded on everything from The Beatles to Batman.
I’m gonna miss him, just like I miss Scaccia, just like I miss the days of having band meetings with all of them sitting cross-legged on the floor of a dirty rehearsal space.
Bruce, you did it. You beat Dallas. You took speed metal to an entirely different level, and your music will endure and exist longer than the rest of us ever will.
You know damn well.
Memorial Concert & Celebration of Life
Date: March 9, 2019
Time: Doors 5:30 PM, Memorial 7 PM
6025 Camp Bowie
Fort Worth, TX 76116
Hyperlink the address to: https://www.facebook.com/events/2371043716465698/
Date: March 9, 2019
Time: 7:00 pm
So many fun memories and so many Aerosmith shows. I loved following your career and seeing how you finally met your soulmate in Jeanna. Rest in peace my friend you will be missed. Now go find your horse and carriage. ??
I LOVE AND MISS YOU SO MUCH!!!
Love you and miss you!
Robert Nixon Jr
Round Rock, TX
RIP Bruce. You were a class act and true warrior....rest easy my friend.
Joy Smith and Family
Bruce was, is, and always will be a legend. He was a good man. He was extremely talented. I recall my encounters with him to always be pleasant. Always a nice guy. He shared his journey with us. Taught my family and I how to cope with my Momma's diagnosed of cancer too. His journey inspired us and gave us wisdom. Jeanna and his love story is absolutely Beautiful! He lived a grand life. He is deeply missed. Many loving thoughts and feelings of compassion go out to his Family, band mates, us fans, and friends. May his life he led lead us into a light of goodness and greatness. Thank you universe for ending his suffering. But we as humans left behind feel a deep emptiness w/o him. R.I.P. Bruce ? Love you Jeanna! Sending strength to you, his mom, his daughter, and your son ?
Rest well Bruce. Love and respect to you and your family.
I love you and miss you my metal brother!
Colorado Springs, CO
My family and I send our sincere condolences to the family, friends and bandmates of our beloved Bruce. Our hearts are broken and we will miss you so much!
Dallas, Texas, TX
Bruce, your history in the Dallas Metal scene and World Wide will be with many forever. You had such a big heart and you accomplished all the things you told me you would do. You were one of the bravest most determined souls I've had the pleasure to know. Love ya!
Batman never dies! And you won't ever be forgotten. Thank you all the good times and your legacy! Rest in Paradise
Balch Springs, TX
I did not know you very well but I have to say WHAT AN INSPIRATION! WOW, watching you fight so hard to stay alive was both heartbreaking and inspiring to say the least! I have never seen anyone fight so hard and be so strong through it all! My thoughts and prayers to your wife, friends and family! May the angels in heaven watch over you and give your family strength. You will live forever in many peoples hearts!
We Love You and Your Beautiful Family! Thank you so much for always being kind and generous to others! You are missed. The world needs more people like you.
Really going to miss you one of the nicest people I ever met and worked with in the music industry. A total Class Act and Texas Metal Legend. Thanks for being cool and being a friend bless you my friend and your family you will be missed. Now your fight is over rest easy my good man.
Much love and respect Sweet Nightmares radio show.
Much love and respect Sweet Nightmares radio show.
Someone who would like to see his family in his obituary
This is a great and wonderful story. Some would like to see his obituary finished and have his family at least put in it. R.I.P Bruce
Dallas, Texas, TX
I'm glad I had a chance to meet you. I will always remember how nice you were to us. Rest in peace. I will always remember you.
Park HIill, OK
Sending out love and condolences to all Bruce's loved ones. He was such a dedicated and talented musician and friend. Rest in peace, Bruce. We'll miss you.
??HAIL BRUCE CORBITT??
North Richland Hills, TX
You will be deeply missed. Loved seeing that face at Frightmare weekend.
Ft. Worth, TX
R. I. P. Bruce You always had a heart of gold and treated everyone with kindness.
I know damn well hes resting now and not suffering this horror of cancer any longer thank God ....he was a tough man ..and a loving person
San Antonio, TX
Wow , nothing about his family or recent friends....someone sounds like it all about them .he will be missed by so many friends,and family.someone needs to rewrite this asap.love you bruce.
<3 rest in peace brotha.
Pompano Beach, FL
Batman will always be in my heart !! Thanks Bruce for getting me into Thrash Metal Musics,Rigor Mortis is the 1st best Thrash band Ive ever heard in 1983,Ive always liked Rock n Roll,Heavy Metal,Hard Rock when Bruce gave me the first Demo Rigor Mortis Casette tape,I fell in love listening Thrash Metal Band.Thanks Bruce the Batman will always in my heart
Michael Graham (concert Mike)
It was always a pleasure to meet you at the Rail Club the few times that I did, thank you for your time and your great music.
Saw warbeast at gwarbq, boyfriend got injured in y'all's pit.. a moment we will never forget. Followed your journey, sad to see it end like this. Fly high, Bruce.
San Antonio, TX
Bruce I will miss you brother.We had alot great times growing up.Great memories.RIP
West Branch, MI
R i p Bruce you were a great friend and a great musician and a great inspiration to thousands and thousands of people may God bless your soul Love you Batman!
Rest easy brother thanks for the memories and the kick ass tunes.
RIP brother you will never be forgotten, BATMAN FOREVER.....YOU KNOW DAMN WELL! Thanks for all the memories
You will be a testimony for people stricken with cancer. You always thought positive and had a fight attitude. But then you always have.Your in Heaven now with Dime, Vinne and so many others.We will miss you.
You were one of the bravest people I have ever seen facing this battle. It was an honor to get to play a show with you and meet you. You touched a lot of lives with your music and great personality. Your legend will last forever
You will never be forgotten ! Much love and prayers to Jeanna , Lyric , Chyna and your mom . They will not be forgotten either
R.I.P BRUCE "BATMAN" you are loved an truly missed thank you for all you have done with the thrash metal scene an making it a staple in Deep Ellum an thru out Texas You Maybe Gone But Will Never Be forgotten an To his loving wife you will be in my prayers while going thru this time of sorrow an thank you for allowing us to be truly blessed by his voice an music again thank you ????
Until we meet again... ??
Thank You, Bruce..
Rest In Power...
Rest In Power...
Ft. Worth, TX
Thank you Bruce for chasing your dreams, keeping true to yourself, to your family and friends and fans. Sharing your love and talent of music with the world and making it better. Peace and prayers.
A True friend and inspiration to all ,We all will miss you tremendously-Gave so much and helped the Texas Music scene in More ways than I could possibly describe,,,,I will never for get you my friend-
You were an inspiration to my generation . Thank you for the legacy and the thrash. RIP Batman
R.I.P. MY FRIEND. I met you sooany years ago at one of your concerts , we all hung around together for many years growing up in Irving. You were always fearless. You treated everyone with the same respect, and truly care d for every friend you had. You and Jeanna were perfect for each other. I know you will be all of our guardian angel. Miss you and love ya!
Fort Worth, TX
The good old days. Rest well, Batman.
The strongest person I've ever had the pleasure to meet. May the Lord keep you and bless your wonderful wife and family.
Rest well my friend. You are missed and so many are thankful to have known you
Dr. Lex Reed
We will miss Bruce immensely! May God comfort his family and friends during this difficult time.
I am without words.......rest in peace, BatMan!!!
The Colony, TX
Rest In Peace in my friend
It was so awesome being friends with you on FaceBook. I was just a fan, but you accepted my request!!
I will miss you!!
I will miss you!!
West branch, MI
Brother gone but not forgotten love ya Batman see you on the other side
R.I.P. Brother, we had so many Great times and Memories, I will miss you so much.
Grand Junction, CO
You were a true inspiration in life.
Bruce, You will never be forgotten and your memory
Will live on forever. Rest In Peace
Bruce, You will never be forgotten and your memory
Will live on forever. Rest In Peace
Good times always!
Proud to have known you. RIP
Pompano Beach, FL
Thank you Bruce for giving me the very first Rigor Mortis Demo cassette tape,met in line for Black Sabbath Tickets in 1985,and got hooked on Thrash metal.May rest in peace Bruce, and it will always be in my heart for my lifetime. Love and Peace,Daryl
Loved how youd take the time out to comment LENGHTY on posts.. You always set me straight on the Metal side .. I will miss that , YOUR AWESOME FOREVER !
Lost touch with you many years ago. You were a totally cool dude to know and it shocked me to find out tonight that you passed away in January. May you rest in peace.