Cory Smoot, lead guitarist for the theatrical shock rock group GWAR has died. According to lead singer Dave Brockie, Smoot was found in the band's tour bus in the early morning hours on Thursday as the band was preparing to cross into Canada to continue their North American tour. Brockie has released a statement, providing fans some detail about the tragedy.

"We have lost a brother, a husband, a son, and one of the most talented musicians that ever slung an ax. Cory Smoot, longtime lead guitar player for the band GWAR, has passed at the age of 34."

Cory Smoot joined the group in 2002. He portrayed the character Flattus Maximus, described as having a "red face, white dreadlocks, dinosaur-head shoulder pads and reptile feet." He was the 4th guitarist to portray the character in the band's 25 year history. Brockie, known to fans of the group as Oderus Urungus, confirmed that no cause of death had yet been determined. His statement continues:

"The most glaring question is how? And unfortunately that is the hardest question to answer. The truth will not be known until the medical officials have finished their work. All I can do is relate what we saw with our own eyes."

Speculation over the cause of Smoot's untimely passing quickly ran rampant on internet message boards over the weekend, with many fans convinced that drug and alcohol played a part. No history of substance abuse on Smoot's part has been acknowledged publicly, though his passing follows a recent string of celebrity deaths that turned out to be drug and alcohol related.

"The last time I saw Cory was after our show in Minneapolis on Weds. night. It was a great show at First Avenue in Minneapolis, one of our favorite places to play. Cory was happy," Brockie said.

Sometime before dawn, as the band members were gathering documents and passports for the border crossing, Smoot's lifeless body was discovered in his bunk. "It was without a doubt the most horrible moment of my life," Brockie said.

Brockie went on to say that the character of Flattus Maximus will be officially retired, though their North American tour will continue as planned. Corey Smoot's funeral is expected to take place in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia sometime this week, though it is likely to be a small, private affair. Brockie concluded his statement by asking for fans to "Respect the families wish for privacy, and especially to keep his wife, Jamie, in your thoughts and prayers.”