Cory Smoot suffered a heart attack.
That's the official word from a North Dakota coroner who issued an autopsy report which the Gwar guitarist's family subsequently made public Tuesday to dispel suggestions that Smoot may have gone the way of other rock stars who lived hard and died young.
Smoot died Nov. 3 from a "coronary artery thrombrosis brought about by his pre-existing coronary artery disease," wrote Dr. William Massello III, the state's medical examiner, who added that "the formation of such blood clots can result in a heart attack."
The costumed headbanger's bandmates were relieved by the coroner's findings.
"For a rock and roll musician to die on a bus on the way to a border crossing…there was a real breath of relief that rippled through the metal community when we found out it was a normal death," Gwar vocalist Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, told the New York Daily News after the autopsy results were released.
Mouring the loss of their lead guitarist, whose onstage alias was Flattus Maximus, the four surviving members have officially retired his character. They have also vowed to soldier on with their upcoming European tour as a tribute to their fallen comrade, who joined the Intergalactic Mutant Overlords in 2002.
"When Cory died, we all wanted to go home and take care of the family and our own grief. But the best way to do that is by playing all the shows we have planned," said the Brockie said in a separate statement on Gwar's website. "The response from the U.S. metal community and especially the whole international GWAR family has been overwhelmingly supportive…these GWAR fans need the chance to pay their respects to Cory, and cancelling any shows would deprive them of that."
"Let's make these shows a celebration of Cory Smoot, one of the most amazing players in metal," he concluded. "We shall honor Flattus Maximus in the only way we know how…by rocking the f--k out!!!