Sunday, December 12, 2004

In Columbus, Ohio, Nathan Gale went to a club shot and killed "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott while he and his band, Damageplan, was performing. As horrible as the crime was, I am not a fan of Abbot and his music. That's not to say I wouldn't like it--just that I am not familiar with it.

My cousin Steve, on the other hand, was very familiar with his music and was profoundly affected by his death. He sent me an email to express his feelings about it, and, with his permission, am reprinting it here. I thought it was very moving and wanted to share it.

Just so you guys now, I have been very upset over what happened in Ohio and I think it is important that something positive come from Dimebag, I loved his playing as much as Randy Rhoads! So in case you didn't know.......

Hey-

It is a Friday night and I am home alone drinking beer (Coors lite, Dimebag's favorite) and I had to tell someone that could appreciate this: the next generation of guitar players!

I loved Dimebag Darrell (Damageplan, Pantera), he was one of the best guitar players I ever saw or heard! Cheers to him and I want to introduce you to him, as the way I knew him. Don't believe the crap you hear, Dimebag was special and unfortunately for us as guitar players, he is gone.

I saw Pantera about 4 times, I also bought and read articles he posted in Guitar World since 1994, and Alex was 4 years old at the time. He was an excellent guitar teacher and I am going to photocopy those articles and send them to you. He knew how to explain things in a cool way, how? By showing you fun stuff and explaining it in a simple way.

In 1994, an album came out by the name of Far Beyond Driven. I had already heard their second album Vulgar Display of Power, which was not doubt a classic like Back in Black, Paranoid and Van Halen, the music punched you in the face as it portrayed on the album's cover (a guy getting punched in the face!) DRIVEN was their third album and I, like everyone else wanted to hear it...BAD! When I did, they literally made it sound like someone was driven far beyond vulgar power! Sounds kooky but that album ripped asshole! They were intense and super, super talented.

These guys were special like Metallica in the late 80's. Metallica was the best metal band around until they seemed to fade, my friend and fellow guitar player Will Merkle handed me a copy of Vulgar and said "I think these guys are better than Metallica!" Pantera first released an album called Cowboys From Hell in 1991, Pantera fans refer to this album, as CFH and Dimebag would sign autographs with those initials even up until he died. When I first heard CFH I liked it, but the singer was trying some Judas Priest screams and honestly NO ONE could really do that except Judas Priest. But the guitar! The guy was a shredder! Jammed his ass off, played loud and fast and the music began to form a METAL GROOVE that became obvious on Vulgar Display of Power. He was playing solos when no one else was in the time of Nirvana and grunge.

Dimebag was the one who not only was playing the best rock, heavy metal guitar but he was like family, he said cool things in interviews and I could really relate to his music, it was very aggressive and I loved it! In a time where Seattle Grunge was popular, the only metal albums I really bought in those days were Pantera.

As far as guitar players go he was very vocal about whom he liked, he loved Ace Frehley/Kiss, Judas Priest (Glenn Tipton and KK Downing), Black Sabbath and a guy by the name of Randy Rhoads. As you can tell, we liked the same stuff; I felt a connection with the guy. Yeah, yeah he played like Eddie Van Halen too, but who didn't? But that is the point of this letter; EVERYONE copied Eddie in those days, now everyone will copy Dimebag. This guy told the world his music was metal that is my favorite style therefore I loved his open arms approach to heavy metal music! I feel. ...very empty and sad when I heard about his death. He was kick ass, and the guitar world is the only group that can really understand.

Here are the facts:
Dimebag Darrell Abott grew up in Pantego, Texas with his brother Vince, aka Vinnie Paul, the drummer and certified bad ass that played drums for him during Pantera and Damageplan years. "Riggs" was the nickname Dime gave Vince. Incidentally, the name 'Dimebag' was Darrell's second stage name. He originally listed himself as 'Diamond' Darell on CFH and Vulgar Display of Power he officially became Dimebag after that.

When asked about it in a magazine I read, he said "Dime, Dirtbag, Diamond, Dimebag whatever you want." He was very easy going and his guitar world articles were called Riffer Madness. Ok obviously he made several references to Pot, but he was a serious drinker, the rumor in those days that there were two bands you wanted to avoid on the road, Slayer and Pantera because they will make you drink and drink you under the table!

They were boozers big time! They also like all dudes shared a fondness for hot chicks and to this day they own a couple of strip bars in Dallas Texas. Yes, unfortunately their favorite football team was the Cowboys!

Back to the band, in the very beginning Pantera was originally a glam band. Yup, Bon Jovi all the way, however, they released an EP (mini album) called Power Metal. Don't let the spandex and big hair fool you; these boys from Texas could play! Most bands were from Los Angeles or New York and then Seattle, but not Texas! So they got signed by a major record label and recorded a phenomenal record called COWBOYS FROM HELL! Some people argue that it was Dimebag's best guitar playing to date.

The only brother guitar/drummer siblings before them to have a #1(Far Beyond Driven) record were Edward and Alex Van Halen. Therefore by family genes, with musician blood, the Abbotts (Darrell and Vince) were destined for glory. Their father Jerry Abbott was a country music songwriter who owned a rehearsal/recording studio his sons grew up in and learned everything about music. That was the deal; if they learned music theory and the rules that applied they could use the studio. Dimebag was the first to tell you in his articles for Guitar World you need to know music theory and how do you do that? YOU TAKE LESSONS!

Darrell, just like Hendrix made a guitar famous. He won a guitar in a contest made by Dean a bad ass US made guitar that I had seen Sammy Hagar use before. It was unique it had three points on the body and a great pitchfork headstock. Dimebag was the one who made it special, I don't know the name of the model, but I'll send a pic with the lessons. He won it in a guitar contest growing up in Dallas or pigs knuckle Texas, but he used that same instrument on most of the albums for Pantera until he got a guitar endorsement from Washburn.

The guitar is significant, The Dean he played in question was dark blue and had lighting bolts extended through the three points on the body and had a picture of the band kiss in makeup on the end. Just like Stevie Ray Vaughan another guitar player from Texas relied on a 1959 Fender Stratocaster, just like Angus Young used the Gibson SG exclusively Dimebag used this one until they started making them for him at Washburn.
Let's put it this way: If a guitar company makes a guitar for you, then you're really good!

In 1994 Far Beyond Driven debuted #1 in that year, on billboard pop charts, an album Dimebag wrote probably 90% of! Vinnie and Darrell were hands on musicians and unlike most musicians in this time period they knew everything about recording music. They eventually built their own studio at Dimebag's house and started recording Pantera albums there after Driven. They recorded an album called The Great Southern Trendkill and that one was by far my favorite Pantera album to this day! I mean, right when you think they couldn't play anymore heavier or faster they fooled you and jammed even harder! Dimebag was always trying to get better and play as hard as they partied.

I had to see them, they headlined like in 1995 at a place called Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland. Sepultura blew them off the stage back then, but in 1998? HOLY SHIT! I saw Pantera deliver the craziest live show I had ever seen!!!!!!!!!! The CROWD! LITERALLY TORE THE PLACE UP! At Nissan Pavilion, in Bristow, VA. I will never forget that, besides the fact they jammed 10 times better than the first time I saw them! They had the crowd tearing grass out of the ground! I mean it looked like birds in the sky, because people were literally ripping sod out of the ground and throwing it. The cops broke out the riot gear to stop it and to this day I have never seen a show like that! They had the craziest mosh pit going and I have been in hundreds of them, that one was the scariest by far!

Did I see them again? Yes and let's put it this way, they were destroying something great after 1998, they lived hard, but it was catching up with some members of the band and with all the metal egos, the band by this time had side bands and projects and the singer took a part time project and made it full time, he left. Pantera was no more! Just like that, don't blink a music ass kicking' machine split up! They were special, NO ONE delivered the goods like they did, and Pantera was without a doubt one of the best Heavy Metal bands of all time! One of the best bands ever that I paid money to see! I loved their live show so much I would work out or lift weights in the late 90s to the same cd over and over, their only live one called 101 Proof Live! I had the tape, wore it out! I have the cd then I wore it out and it is all scratched up! I have never done that with ANY other album, I have never wore out the tape AND cd of the same album.

The break up happened because Phil Anselmo, the singer a guy who is a HUGE Asshole, but he had just as much to do with Pantera as Dimebag did, but if you ask me? IF someone wanted to blame for the breakup of Pantera, BLAME PHIL! He plays in a band called Super Joint Ritual and I know, I was at the Ozzfest in 2004, they sucked! But he left Pantera and refused a reunion or talk of because he wanted to have Superjoint a very angry, grungy, loud, but no where near the level of Pantera and here is the truth: Superjoint has 2 guitar players and the two of them together cannot play like DIMEBAG! Dime and Vinnie formed DAMAGEPLAN and played the same super heavy, dynamic timing, angry, loud music they knew how to play. The problem is DAMAGEPLAN would always be compared to Pantera and they were just trying to do what they knew, but people had already heard it in Pantera. However, Dimebag was still coming up with crazier guitar leads and when I first asked a friend about what he thought of DAMAGEPLAN he said, "I think they kick ass!" You could tell Dimebag was not ready to let go and he wrote an article in guitar world about how he didn't know what would happen to Pantera either but he and Vinnie Paul had to move on.

Dimebag always played loud, flawlessly, and wailed guitar solos when no other punk ass band would! He had HUGE BALLS as a guitar player and lived life the same. He drank Coors lite and a little secret Pantera official drink called: BLACK TOOTH GRIN. Seagram's 7 whiskey with a splash of coke, they drink it like shots. Funny thing, I would ask bartenders if they knew what it was in other cities I went to and they actually did!

He was phenomenal. Great songwriter, exceptional lead guitar player and a real energetic guy that I have no clue why someone would want to hurt or kill. I idolized him, being married now, job, house payment like the rest of America; I want to be like HIM! You ask me what I want to do with my life? I want to play guitar like DIMEBAG!

He had a huge respect for other guitar players playing the same type of music the same my current Metal hero Zakk Wylde of the Black Label Society, Ozzy's right hand man. Ironically, they became really good friends and I was happy because I felt like I knew both of these guys and they actually hung out with each other. Zakk posted at 1am the night DIMEBAG was murdered. He posted "OUR BROTHER DIME WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS HOW WE ALL FEEL TONIGHT" That was all I had to see and at 34 years old, I started to cry like a 4 year old. He meant that much to me.

DIMEBAG was killed on stage Wednesday 12/8/2004 in a club North or close to Columbus Ohio shortly after the band hit the stage, the killer walked up and shot Dimebag 5 times in the head. For god sakes how can anyone do that to someone else but especially DIMEBAG a living guitar legend that loved everyone! He was killed on stage in front of his own brother and there was nothing anyone could do.

The following web sites listed memorial messages and pictures they had of him: Black Label Society, Motorhead, Slipknot, Anthrax, Kittie, Killswitch Engage, Drowning Pool,Washburn guitars, Randall Amplification, Guitar World Magazine Online, Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Soulfly, Sepultura, Kiss, VH-1 and Rolling Stone Magazine.

He was obviously real cool and I have been drinking to him all night, VH-1 played their first video Cemetery Gates and I chugged a beer when the guitar solo came up, swear to god I haven't done that in years. I want you to know I was dying to tell someone about him, but no one gives a crap because violence is the norm. People will make up shit and say "just another metal burn out" they have no idea how wrong they are and what a wonderful guitar player we lost. Dime represented aggressive, loud, violent music. My mother used to always warn me about the consequences of violent music, I never once listened to her about that until now. Pantera's music was violent and I guess a crazed fan ended up killing the guy that wrote most of it. Read this line twice if you have to: NEVER TAKE THE MUSIC SERIOUSLY! It is supposed to be fun! Sure you can take your guitar playing seriously, but don't believe the shit they spew out! Phil's new band Super Joint Ritual has Pentagrams (signs of devil worship) and pot leafs all over their cd cover and that is the wrong message to you guys. Don't believe the hype those guys do that shit to sell cds and it all started when Kiss dressed up like clowns! Don't believe the hype, but listen to the music and learn from it.

It really bothers me; I feel the rest of the world doesn't care. They did the same when Layne from Alice In Chains died (friend of Dime's) they gave more attention to the dumb chick in TLC and now? Layne's music, Alice In Chains is in full rotation 24/7 in every major city in the country, go do it, right now. I bet you $20 you can turn on a radio station somewhere and find an Alice In Chains song. Dimebag will be the same, but if you are a guitar player? I have more, I have some cool shit to show you, the way he played his ass off and tried to teach it to us, as a guitar player.... I feel an obligation to share this with the next generation. By the way, Pantera has recorded two Black Sabbath covers: Planet Caravan and Hole in the Sky. When everyone else did Paranoid and War Pigs, these guys tried to do the tough stuff, they could do it because they had Dimebag Darrell Abbott.

SRH
12/11/2004

"Stronger than All"
Far Beyond Driven

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