Eric Wagner, former singer for doom metal icons Trouble and more recently of The Skull and Blackfinger, died of COVID pneumonia on Aug. 22. Now, in a Chicago Reader tribute feature, his bandmate, Ron Holzner revealed that the singer was opposed to taking a COVID-19 vaccine, which was a point of contention between the two.

Prior to Wagner's death, The Skull had been out on tour with The Obsessed, but dropped off the run early, reportedly in response to the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the United States, fueled by the highly-contagious Delta variant.

Not long after, the frontman was hospitalized with COVID pneumonia on Aug. 17 and sadly died less than a week later.

Holzner, who-cofounded The Skull in 2012 and played bass for Trouble from 1986 through 2002, told Chicago Reader, "We argued about it, and he stood his ground on the matter," in regards to the late singer's resistance to taking the vaccine. "I always joked, ‘The World According to Eric Wagner—you should write a book.’ He lived his life his way."

Remembering a powerful moment from The Skull's last performance, which was Aug. 8 in Austin, Texas, Holzner relayed, "During the last song of the night, Eric turned to me and pointed at me and mouthed the words, ‘Thank you, I love you.’ He has done this over the years to me — this night he did it to Henry [Vasquez, drums], Lothar [Keller, guitar], and Matt [Goldsborough, guitar] as well. I thought, 'Wow... that’s cool.' He died exactly two weeks later... I can’t stop thinking about it now."

Scott Carlson (Repulsion, ex-Cathedral, ex-Church of Misery, ex-Death) counted Trouble as having such a prominent influence on him that he named his first band Tempter after the opening track on Trouble's debut album (see his Instagram post below).

"Drowning in your own lungs is a terrible way to die. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone," added Carslon of Wagner's tragic passing.

"But at least he had his beliefs. He felt he was going to a better place, so that probably took some of the edge off in the end. The music world is poorer without his voice, though. I really hoped he would live so that he could use that voice to send a message that this virus is no hoax," he continued, "Instead, his legacy is an example of its own. Thankfully the music is forever."

A new CDC study revealed earlier this week indicated unvaccinated individuals are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and five times more likely to contract it than those who have been vaccinated.

A mid-August report from the New York Times offered a state-by-state breakdown of hospitalization and death percentages among fully vaccinated individuals compared to those who have not received any of the available vaccines.

In all but three states, the percentage of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 who are also vaccinated is between 0.1 and 2 percent, meaning over 98 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated persons.

A total of 47 states also have recorded COVID-19 death percentages of less than 3.5 percent for vaccinated individuals, meaning over 96 percent of COVID deaths are among those who have not been vaccinated in all but three states in America.

Learn more about the available coronavirus vaccines here.

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R.I.P. to the rockers who died in 2021.

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