The Pulse of Radio reports:
Today (Tuesday, December 8th) marks the five-year anniversary of the death of Pantera and Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.
Abbott, one of the most beloved and respected musicians in hard rock, was shot onstage during a Damageplan concert at the Alrosa Villa club in Columbus, Ohio by a 25-year-old ex-Marine named Nathan Gale. Gale murdered a total of four people and wounded three others before being killed himself by police officer James D. Niggemeyer, who arrived on the scene minutes after Gale began his rampage.
Gale seemed to deliberately target Abbott, leading to speculation that the young man, who had a history of mental illness, held a grudge against Abbott and his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul, for the break-up of Pantera in 2002. Columbus police closed their investigation in October of 2005 without establishing a motive for the shootings.
Abbott and Paul formed Pantera in the mid-Eighties in Texas. The band recorded four independent albums before their 1990 major label debut, "Cowboys From Hell," introduced a heavier sound and made them a favorite with metal fans. 1994's "Far Beyond Driven" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 without the benefit of a commercial hit single.
The group split in 2002 following the departure of volatile lead singer Philip Anselmo. Dime and Vinnie, as they were known to their fans, regrouped with Damageplan, releasing the band's debut album, "New Found Power," in February of 2004. The group was touring in support of the record at the time of the shootings.
Abbott's death was a devastating blow to the close-knit hard rock and metal community. He was known to his fellow musicians for his hospitality, friendship and partying spirit, and was a legend among fans and peers for his powerful, innovative and unmistakable playing style.
Several of Dime's final projects, including a country-metal album called Rebel Meets Rebel and a DVD titled "Dimevision - Vol. 1: That's The Fun I Have," were issued in the years following his death by Big Vin Records, a label started by Vinnie Paul. Paul previously told The Pulse of Radio that activities continue to keep Abbott's memory alive. "It's very important to me to make sure that Dime's legacy lives on forever, and I think without anybody even tryin', it will, you know," he said. "But I just want to make sure that the things that are still here that he was part of, can increase that and just be one more thing that lends credence to his legend, you know."
Vinnie Paul told The Pulse of Radio in early 2004, before Dime's death, that he had the utmost respect for his brother as a musician. "I tell people all the time, he's the most talented person I ever met in my life," he said. "Not just 'cause he's my brother, but it's just, that's how I feel about it. On this Damageplan thing, Dime gets out there and rips a solo every night and I can't believe how much of a rush it is just still to hear him get up and play and then hear the crowd start chanting 'Dimebag' and all that. It's a good time, man."
Dime also spoke about his relationship with his brother. "Our brotherhood is a true brotherhood and we both have the same goal," he said. "You know, it wasn't like in somebody else's family — 'Well, Johnny got a A-plus this week, you got a C-minus, up yours,' you know. It was never a competition kind of thing with us, you know, we both had the same goal. And we're like best friends more so than brothers, you know."
Dime and Vinnie Paul were known as two of the hardest-partying rockers around, and Dime told The Pulse of Radio that their motto was "everyone is welcome." "You know, we don't judge people for what kind of music they play or what kind of people they are or what kind of haircut they got, or anything," he said. "We're just into hangin' and cuttin' up, you know, and there's always gonna be a nut to find in somebody, you know. And hey, if they're ever wantin' to hang and have a good time, we're open to it, man, any time, and we're gonna have a good fuckin' time and they don't forget it."
Other musicians on Dimebag:
Slipknot lead singer Corey Taylor: "Every time I hung out with Dime, dude, it was just laughing. I just remember laughing my ass off, 'cause he was just one of the funniest guys, you know. And he was just one of the best dudes, man, and probably one of the best guitar players I've ever seen. Not only live, but just everything, you know. He just made it look fuckin' effortless."
Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford on Abbott's legacy: "His music will live forever, and that's the wonderful thing about what we do as recorded musicians — our music will be around a lot longer than we will. So we have his music to cherish, and he still will be an inspiration to guitar players, as he was with Pantera and with Damageplan. So, you know, we'll miss him dearly."
Vinnie Paul eventually joined a new band called Hellyeah with members of Mudvayne. The album was recorded in the Dallas studio co-owned by Paul and Dime. Mudvayne and Hellyeah singer Chad Gray told The Pulse of Radio that it was a strange experience to work there. "It was bizarre," he said. "It really bothered me to kind of be there because, you know, there's a lot of greatness that happened in that room but there's a lot of pain that goes along with that. And you see it in Vin, like, going in there the first couple of times, it was hard for him. One night I think we were just kind of standing outside and I'm like, you know, there was just parts of me that kind of wished I wasn't there, because the only way that I wouldn't have been there is if Dime was still around."
New content has been posted at the official Pantera web site in honor of Dime's memory, with more to come.
Musicians from various bands that have toured with or have been influenced by Pantera will contribute their stories about the group and Dimebag to the site.