Rigor Mortis and Ministry Guitarist Mike Scaccia Dead at 47

On December 23, thrash metal lost another legendary pioneer when Mike Scaccia, lead guitarist for Ministry and Rigor Mortis, died shortly after collapsing during a performance at the Rail Club for Rigor Mortis/Warbeast frontman Bruce Corbitt's 50th birthday celebration.

Scaccia, who suffered from heart disease, died of a sudden heart attack, according to Tarrant County medical examiner's office. He was only 47 years old.

In 1983, Rigor Mortis formed when drummer Harden Harrison and bassist Casey Orr met Scaccia, who shared an interest in horror and metal. The band not only developed a sound that influenced generations of metal bands, but also created an underground metal scene that still inspires generations of North Texans.

Although Scaccia left the band in 1991 to join Ministry, he still had a special place in his heart for his original bandmates and later reunited with the original lineup in 2005, performed at Ozzfest in 2008 and recently recorded their first studio album in 25 years, Slaves to the Grave.

"You know I keep thinking about all of this," Corbitt posted on Facebook. "Why this happened the way it did. Why it happened at all. What if I wouldn't have asked them to play for my birthday show? But mainly, I keep thinking of the conversations I had with Mike in recent years. Each close friendship is different... you cherish them all. I talked about things with Mike that I couldn't with some other close friends.

"So what I do know is how happy Mike was at this point in his life. He loved his wife and kids so much. He talked about them all the time. He loved his bandmates from his different bands. He loved his friends... past and present. He loved his job working for Gibson Guitars. So that gives me some kind of comfort just knowing he was enjoying his time on earth until the very end."

Scaccia is survived by his wife Jenny and four children. A memorial will be held on Sunday, December 30 at 3 p.m., at Aristide Event Center in Mansfield, Texas. The event is open to the public.

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.