Bruce Corbitt isn't ready to die. It's not that he's afraid of death; he says he just has too much to live for. A popular local metal singer for bands like Rigor Mortis and Warbeast for decades now, the 52-year-old Dallas native recently finished a display of Texas metal at the Texas Musicians Museum in Irving. Collecting old memorabilia from local legendary guitarists like the late Dimebag Darrell, Rick Perry and Scott Shelby helped to keep his mind off his heart condition.
But last week, two heart complications in less than five days changed Corbitt's reasoning. At the ER, Corbitt found that his heart was misfiring, which caused his blood pressure to skyrocket. The doctors told him that he would need heart surgery. After months of living healthy, even changing his diet, he finally agreed. He couldn't take the chance of dying on stage like his late guitarist and friend Mike Scaccia, who died playing at Corbitt's 50th birthday bash at the Rail Club in Fort Worth.
“It became very evident that I can't live a normal life anymore without doing the surgery, without fixing the problems,” Coribtt says. “It's not fair to me, my wife, my family and my band to have to worry. It's no way to live: 'Oh we can't go out of town without worrying about his heart messing up.' Nah, it's worth the risk of surgery to live a normal life again. I feel like a walking time bomb.”
The heart surgery is scheduled for Monday, and his chances of surviving are good — 1 in 1,000 don't survive — although the risk of complications is slightly scarier at 1 in 100, he says. And the medical costs associated with his heart failure are also frightening. He's already dropped nearly $50,000.
Luckily for Corbitt, the local metal community is a family. Not long after word got out about Corbitt's heart complications, a Youcaring page appeared online seeking to raise money to help with his medical expenses: “Bruce has been there to help so many of us, and as a proud man, he will not ask for himself," the page says. "So let's all support him and donate.”
Corbitt didn't want to ask anyone to help him with his medical bills. He says Obamacare had forced him to get health insurance, but it only covers a portion of the expenses. “I just thought about the bills and my wife and my family and what they're going through to help me pay some of these bills,” he says. “I thought I would be smart and not be stubborn.”
The local metal community also plans to hold a benefit concert for Corbitt on Saturday, October 17, at The Rail Club in Fort Worth. Thrashin' Alan from KNON will be hosting the event while bands such as Rabid Flesh Eaters, Creeper Texas Metal and Wizards of Gore (aka Rigor Mortis without Scaccia) will be offering a night of soul-scorching metal.
“I have never felt more love in my life than at this moment,” Corbitt says. “Sometimes people don't get to see what everyone thinks about them. In some small way, I'm getting to see some portion of that, that people do care about me and love me.”
Corbitt's recent heart complications aren't his first brush with death. He's had a lot of close calls in the past, having survived a stabbing in the '80s, melanoma and several car crashes. But dying from heart complications looms heavy in his thoughts, especially after recent health complications involving some of the original members of Rigor Mortis.
Scaccia, who passed away in 2012, isn't the only one. Drummer Harden Harrison battles high blood pressure, and just a few weeks ago, bassist Casey Orr suffered a heart attack. Orr's artery known as the “widow maker” was more than 90 percent blocked, Corbitt says. But Orr underwent emergency heart surgery and survived.
“After a near-death experience, Casey says it is a blessing in disguise,” Corbitt says. “He was lucky that he felt the symptoms. And we both feel that we had warning signs and second chances at life. Sadly, Scaccia didn't get those second chances. It was just over.”
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