Back on December 8th 2004, the music world was rocked with the news of a mass shooting at the Alrosa Villa music venue in Columbus, OH, during a Damageplan concert. Darrell Lance Abbott (aka Dimebag Darrell), founding guitarist of groove metal band Pantera, was shot to death within minutes of taking the stage by former Marine Nathan Gale. Before Gale was taken out by police responding to the situation, he was able to fire off round after round, killing head of security Jeff “Mayhem” Thomspon as he tried to stop the shooter as well as two other people in attendance. Seven more people were injured in the shooting.

Dimebag Darrell founded Pantera back in 1981 with brother and drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott (better known as Vinnie Paul). The band didn’t start out as “Pantera,” however, initially going by Gemini, and later by Eternity, before the members settled on Pantera (he also went by Diamond Darrell at the time). The group started out as a glam rock act, as Dimebag was a huge fan of Ace Frehley from KISS, even going so far as to tattoo the guitarist’s likeness on his chest. It wasn’t until the addition of singer Phil Anselmo in 1986 that Pantera began to form what would be their signature groove metal sound, led by Abbott’s now recognizable tone, which came to fruition with the recording and release of Cowboys From Hell (1990). That album took Pantera to an entirely different level.

“Psycho Holiday” (from 1990’s Cowboys from Hell):

With the success of Cowboys, followed by the release of 1992’s Vulgar Display of Power and major hit that was 1994’s Far Beyond Driven, Dimebag became a rising star amongst guitarists in the rock and heavy metal worlds. He went on to record and perform with countless bands such as King Diamond and Anthrax, the latter of which considered him their “sixth member.” He garnered respect and friendships from other stars such as Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), and Eddie Van Halen—whose original Charvel “Bumblebee” guitar is buried with Abbott.

A serious Anselmo heroin overdose in 1996—requiring a shot of adrenaline to get his heart beating again—and the overall toll of his lengthy battle with drugs set the wheels in motion for Pantera’s eventual demise. The group would release 2000’s Reinventing the Steel, its final album, and tour on and off through 2001. Their last performance would be at Japan’s Beast Festival on August 28th, 2001. For the next two years, Anselmo played in several side projects (Down and Superjoint Ritual), but with both Abbott brothers feeling that the singer abandoned the group, they made the decision to break up Pantera for good in 2003.

“This Love” (from 1992’s Vulgar Display of Power)

It was a bad break-up, to say the least, with plenty of choice words thrown around, both in public and in private. With Dimebag and Vinnie Paul’s decision to move forward and tour as Damageplan, the future of a potential Pantera reunion was put in question. That question was never given the answer it deserved, as the nightmare that was Alrosa Villa occurred in 2004. Dimebag was buried in the KISS Kasket that he requested in his will, staying true to his roots until the very end.

RIP Dimebag Darrell (August 20, 1966 – December 8, 2004)

“Fractured Mirror” (Ace Frehley cover)

[Originally published 12/8/17]