The Obsessed bandleader Scott "Wino" Weinrich has made his first public comments following the death of former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner last week from COVID pneumonia, also using the opportunity to expound on a statement he made earlier this month where the heavy metal musician suggested COVID-19 was a biological weapon funded by the government and "created as a depopulation tool," an unproven theory.

Weinrich and Wagner were peers who frequently found themselves working in the same circles. Wagner, most recently with the band The Skull, died on Aug. 22 at age 62 after being admitted to the hospital with the coronavirus complication. He opposed COVID vaccines up to his death.

"I had known Eric Wagner for over 30 years," Weinrich wrote on Sunday (Aug. 29) on The Obsessed's official Facebook page. "Although we lived in different cities, we often crossed paths professionally. Trouble was the headlining act at the Loeb Center NY show where The Obsessed showcased for Columbia records, ultimately resulting in a record deal. We did a holiday package with Trouble, Crowbar and others in the Lunar Womb days, we joined forces in Probot, and most recently, we embarked on a small U.S. tour with his band The Skull. I am saddened greatly by his death. RIP Eric."

Following a line break, The Obsessed leader appended to that remembrance a rundown addressing his previous comments.

"I would love to leave it with the above statement about a lost friend," Weinrich said, "but I feel I must address what some have suggested — that the timing of my previous 'statement' was insensitive or awkward. Let me make something absolutely clear, I am not indifferent over Eric's death, and any insinuations otherwise are beyond reproach. [His] was a unique voice and mind, and his musical influence on [me] was profound. I don't read the small-minded comments that jealous haters propagate — we all know when the shit comes down, they will be the first to run."

He added, "It blows my mind to realize that so many people in a genre I would have previously described as forward-thinking and cool get their feathers all ruffled when ideas come down the pike that are 'out of the mainstream' way of thinking. But hey, if we are free at all, then that means we are free to disagree! Have your opinion, and I will have mine. Think for yourself. I am always up for a civilized discourse or healthy debate. My beliefs are rooted in science, much of which is being suppressed and censored before it can reach the people. In the end, I believe love and music will ultimately be the healing elements for us all."

Weinrich was scheduled to perform a solo acoustic set at this month's Psycho Las Vegas Festival but dropped off when he learned that mask mandates would be enforced. "I will not be performing this night at Psycho Las Vegas," he said on Aug. 19, "not out of fear, but principle. If we, the people, continue to blindly accept this tyranny we are destined for enslavement."

Elsewhere in that statement, he spread falsehoods about COVID-19, claiming he had "dug very deep when researching [it] not just on YouTube, but in scientific publications, journals, lectures, etc."

Weinrich continued on Aug. 19 that, while be believes COVID exists, he theorized it had "been weaponized as has been proven in congressional hearings where the evidence is overwhelming. Our [government] has been complicit in the financing and shared scientific lab work creating a SARS-based super-coronavirus, designed specifically for lethality and easy dissemination amongst the human population. Bioweapons are nothing new, but in my personal opinion pure evil. … A paper mask was also first said by the [World Health Organization] and so-called experts to be useless against the virus, then of course the official word was again changed. My personal beliefs are: We are under the authoritarian cloak of a small cadre of unelected so called 'elite' who are beyond rich and consequently consider themselves above the common man. This virus I believe was created as a depopulation tool, and the fear associated with it as a means to subjugate and enslave you and I, the common people."

Just before Wagner's death, The Skull were on tour with The Obsessed. But The Skull dropped off the trek early, reportedly in response to the surging number of COVID cases in the United States fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. Wagner was then hospitalized on Aug. 17.

Weinrich added on Sunday, "Politics is all theatre, it's BS, and the current medical politics are designed to subjugate and divide. The power we will have will come from being united for the common cause of truth and freedom."

COVID-19 is currently plaguing musicians much as it has the general populous. In the last month, Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Jonathan Davis (Korn), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Sean Killian (Vio-Lence), Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row), Paul Stanley (KISS) and members of Tesla and Lynyrd Skynyrd all revealed they'd tested positive for the disease behind the worldwide pandemic. Several bands have had to cancel or postpone shows because of it.

Vaccination efforts are ongoing; 52 percent total in the U.S. are fully vaccinated as of Aug. 29. But with an uptick of infections across the country, many upcoming concerts and fests seem questionable.

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