By Steve Knopper
Alice Cooper had his guillotine, Ozzy Osbourne had his bat, and Dave Williams, lead singer of the furiously rhythmic nu metal band Drowning Pool, had his snow shovel. Before Williams adopted it as his onstage prop, he favored a pitchfork he had retrieved from Dallas' Vampire Club. "But since we had cords and stuff (onstage), we were like, 'Dude, that's crazy,'" says lead guitarist C.J. Pierce. "So the next night, he brought this snow shovel."
The big, shocking, comical sound of the shovel slamming against the stage matched Williams' personality. "He was just funny as hell," says Pierce, who had been searching for the perfect frontman when he encountered Williams, a fellow Faith No More fan, in 1998. "Even when we were in the middle of an argument, he would say things -- 'Man, I'm a Duncan Hines hate cake ready to rise!' -- and you'd just start laughing. You could never stay mad at him very long."
Williams, 30, died of as-yet-unknown causes August 14 on Drowning Pool's tour bus in Manassas, Virginia. The Dallas band, known for its metal anthem "Bodies," as well as the million-selling 2001 album Sinner, was scheduled to perform that night at Ozzfest. Pierce, who spoke at a public memorial in Plano, Texas, a few days after Williams' death, says Drowning Pool's three surviving members hope to put out two or three unreleased tracks with Williams on vocals. After that, he adds, the band will look for a new singer.
But it will be hard to match Williams' up-for-anything charisma. Pantera's Dimebag Darrell dubbed him "Stage," says Pierce, because Williams watched every set by every band on tour with him from the side of the stage. Mercedes Lander, drummer for metal trio Kittie, who toured with Drowning Pool in 2000, recalls wrestling with Williams at a San Antonio club one drunken night. He later asked her to do his hair. "There were pigtails all over the place," she says.
"He was never mean to a single person on Earth -- he always had a smile and a one-liner and was usually cracking jokes about himself," says longtime friend and Sevendust guitarist John Connolly, whose wife grew up with Williams in Texas. "I didn't know if he was going to be a singer or a guitar player or a stand-up comedian. But I always knew he was going to be up on stage."
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