Dimebag Darrell PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 November 2008 13:57

Darrell Lance Abbott

Born: August 20, 1966, Arlington, Texas, U.S.

Died: December 8, 2004, Columbus, Ohio, U.S.

Age: 38

Cause of death: Gunshot wounds

Notable because: Renowned heavy metal guitarist was shot dead onstage.

 

Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as "Diamond" Darrell, "Dimebag" Darrell, or simply "Dime" was an American guitarist. Best known as a founding member of the heavy metal bands Pantera and Damageplan, he also performed in the country music band Rebel Meets Rebel. Abbott frequently appeared in guitar magazines and in readers' polls, where he was often included in the top ten metal guitarist spots. In addition, he wrote a long-running Guitar World magazine column, which has been compiled in the book Riffer Madness. Remembered for his amiable nature and rapport with fans, critic Greg Prato  describes Abbott as "one of the most influential stylists in modern metal." On December 8, 2004, Abbott was murdered onstage during a Damageplan performance at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio.

He was born to Jerry Abbott, a country musician and producer. He took up guitar when he was in his early teens, winning a series of local guitar competitions, where in one he was awarded his first Dean (later known as the ML styled guitar.) Coincidentally, his father had bought him a cherryburst finish Dean (ML) standard the morning before the competition, so he only had a few hours of playing time on it. These and another contest prize, his first Randall Amplifier, are the two staples of his style and sound. As a child, Abbott became a member of the KISS fan club (the KISS Army). He enlisted with his neighbour and later girlfriend Rita Haney, and the first rock concert they attended was a KISS performance. Abbott has stated that his main influences were Ace Frehley of Kiss and Black Sabbath.

Abbott formed Pantera in 1981 with his brother Vinnie Paul on drums. The band began in a glam metal style, but by the late '80s showed a greater influence from thrash metal acts such as Exodus, Megadeth, Exhorder and Metallica, as well as traditional metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Pantera subsequently became a key formulator of the post-thrash subgenre of "groove" metal. It would not be until nine years after forming that Pantera saw its first piece of commercial success in its 1990 major label debut, Cowboys from Hell. Pantera's "groove" style came to fruition in its breakthrough album Vulgar Display of Power, released on February 25, 1992, which saw the replacement of the power metal falsetto vocals with a hardcore-influenced shouted delivery and heavier guitar sound. In 1992, Abbott dropped the nickname "Diamond Darrell" and assumed the nickname "Dimebag Darrell". Pantera began to suffer from mounting tensions between band members in the mid-1990s, largely due to Phil Anselmo's rampant drug abuse; in 2003, the group broke up. Anselmo left the band for other projects, such as Superjoint Ritual and Down.

After a year, brothers Vinnie and "Dimebag" formed Damageplan, a Heavy metal band which also used the Pantera-style groove metal sound. The Abbott brothers recruited former Halford guitarist Pat Lachman on vocals, and Bob Zilla on bass. Damageplan released its debut album New Found Power in the United States on February 10, 2004, which debuted at number 38 on the Billboard 200, selling 44,676 copies in its first week. When writing music for the new group, "Dimebag" said that "we wanted to stretch out and expand our capabilities to their fullest."

Shortly before singer Phil Anselmo joined Pantera, Abbott was invited to join Dave Mustaine's thrash band Megadeth. Abbott was willing to join, but on the condition that Mustaine also hired his brother Vinnie on drums. As Mustaine had already hired drummer Nick Menza, Abbott stayed with Pantera. In 1992 Pantera teamed up with Rob Halford (of Judas Priest) for a track called 'Light Comes Out of Black'. Abbott played all the guitar parts, Rex Brown played bass, Vinnie Paul played drums, Rob Halford sang lead vocals while Philip Anselmo sang backing vocals. This song was released on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack on July 28th, 1992. In 1996 Abbott contributed the Ace Frehley song 'Fractured Mirror' to the Ace tribute album Spacewalk: A Salute To Ace Frehley. Then in 1997 a new Ace Frehley tribute album called Return Of The Comet: A Tribute To Ace Frehley was released. The two Abbott brothers covered Ace's song 'Snowblind' on track 7. On and off between 1996 and the formation of Damageplan, the Abbott brothers and Pantera bassist Rex Brown teamed up with country singer David Allan Coe for a project called Rebel Meets Rebel in 2000. The album was released May 2, 2006 on Vinnie's "Big Vin Records" label.

Abbott played guest guitar solos on several Anthrax songs from their John Bush era: "King Size" & "Riding Shotgun" from Stomp 442, "Inside Out" & "Born Again Idiot" from Volume 8: The Threat Is Real, "Strap It On" and "Cadillac Rock Box" (with a voice intro from Dimebag as well) from We've Come for You All. In a recent interview Anthrax bassist Frank Bello said "Darrell was basically the sixth member of Anthrax". Abbott also performed a solo on the titular track from King Diamond's Voodoo album. A sample from a guitar solo by Abbott was used in the Nickelback song "Side of a Bullet" and also played guitar on Nickelback's cover of Elton John's Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting along with Kid Rock. In 1999, Pantera recorded a theme tune for their favourite ice hockey team, The Dallas Stars, called 'Punk-Off'. The song was eventually released in 2003 on the album 'Dallas Stars: Greatest Hits'. In 2000 Abbott played the guitar solo on Believer for the new Randy Rhoads Tribute album (not the Ozzy Osbourne album). Vocals were by Sebastian Bach, Rhythm Guitars were by Kane Roberts, Drums were by Michael Cartellone and the Bass was by Mike Bringardello. This was the only track that Abbott contributed to on this album.

Shortly before Abbott's death, he went into the studio with a band named Premenishen to do a guest solo on a track titled "Eyes of the South."  He was also confirmed as one of the original guitar player choices for Liquid Tension Experiment by Mike Portnoy. Abbott's musical roots were in Country Western music; he supported the local music scene in Dallas and would sometimes record with local musicians. He played in a country band called Rebel Meets Rebel with country performer David Allan Coe. Three of Abbott's solos from Pantera songs ranked among Guitar World magazine's top 100 of all-time: "Walk" (#57), "Cemetery Gates" (#35), and "Floods" (#15). In December 2006 a rare track of one of his collaborations was discovered. Abbott sat in on a recording session with local Dallas musician "Throbbin Donnie" Rodd and recorded "Country Western Transvestite Whore". It features Dimebag on lead guitar and lead vocals.Abbott and his brother Vinnie Paul along with Rex (during the Pantera Era) and Bob Zilla (Damageplan Era) performed at their New Years party every year under the name "Gasoline", which was originally and previously a project involving Dimebag and Vinnie plus Thurber T. Mingus of Pumpjack. Stroker of Pumpjack also played with Gasoline on several occasions. Dimebag, Vinnie and Rex also recorded a cover of the ZZ Top song "Heard It on the X" under the band name "Tres Diablos" for ECW wrestling's "Extreme Music" soundtrack.

On December 8, 2004, while performing with Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Abbott was shot onstage by a mentally ill former US Marine named Nathan Gale. Abbott was shot three times in the head, killing him instantly. Damageplan's drum technician, John "Kat" Brooks, and tour manager, Chris Paluska, were injured. Gale fired a total of fifteen shots, taking the time to reload once, and remaining silent throughout the shooting.

Brooks was scuffling with Gale onstage but was overpowered and taken hostage in a headlock position. Brooks was shot several times (once in the right hand, his right leg, and his right side) while attempting to get the gun away from Gale. Five officers came in the front entrance led by officer Rick Crum, and moved toward the stage. Officer James D. Niggemeyer came in through the back door, behind the stage. Gale only saw the officers in front of the stage; he never saw Officer Niggemeyer. When the hostage moved his head, Officer Niggemeyer killed Gale by shooting him in the face with a police-issued Remington 870 shotgun. Gale was found to have 35 rounds of ammunition remaining. Nurse and audience member Mindy Reece, 28, went to the aid of Abbott. She and another fan administered CPR until paramedics arrived, but were unable to save him.

In May 2005, Officer Niggemeyer testified before the Franklin County grand jury, which is routine procedure in Franklin County after a police shooting. The grand jury did not indict Niggemeyer, finding that his actions were justified. Niggemeyer received a commendation from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission for his outstanding police work in time of crisis as well as The National Rifle Association award as 2005 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. The five other officers that were first on the scene received Ohio distinguished law enforcement medals for their efforts. In 2006 James Niggemeyer penned the foreword to A Vulgar Display Of Power: Courage and Carnage at the Alrosa Villa.

Abbott's burial stone

Early theories of motive suggested that Gale may have turned to violence in response to the breakup of Pantera, or the public dispute between Abbott and Pantera singer Phil Anselmo, but these were later ruled out by investigators.  Another theory was that Gale believed Abbott had stolen a song Gale wrote. In the A Vulgar Display Of Power book, several of Gale's personal writings, given to the author by Gale's mother, suggest that the gunman was not angry about Pantera's breakup or about a belief that Pantera had "stolen songs"; instead, the documents suggest that Gale's paranoid schizophrenia caused delusions that the band could read his mind, and that they were "stealing" his thoughts and laughing at him.

Hellyeah's song "Thank You" is dedicated to Dimebag. Avenged Sevenfold's song 'Betrayed', Nickelback's 'Side of a Bullet' (featuring a solo played by Abbott taken from a demo tape), Cross Canadian Ragweed's 'Dimebag', Black Label Society's 'In This River', Kiuas' 'Bleeding Strings', Type O Negative's 'Halloween in Heaven', Machine Head's 'Aesthetics of Hate' were about or dedicated to Dimebag. Additionally, Shinedown and Seether have both dedicated their respective songs Simple Man and Fine Again to Abbott in concert while Seether has also included the intro, first verse and chorus of the Pantera hit Cowboys From Hell in place of the bridge of their song Because of Me. Trivium's album, The Crusade, says at the bottom of the final page, "Rest in peace Dimebag Darrell Abbott "(1966-2004)". In a Limp Bizkit song 'The Priest' in 2005 you hear in the lyrics "I see someone in rage killing Dimebag on stage, what the fuck is this...". Also, Buckethead recorded a song known as "Android of Notre Dame" which is also recognized as "Dimebag tribute song". Brian Head Welch performed "Letter to Dimebag" at 2006. Also on some occasions Fear Factory, Disturbed, Godsmack, and Avenged Sevenfold have played Pantera’s “Walk” as a tribute. Phil Anselmo's current band Down has also dedicated the song "Lifer" to Dime on their most recent tour.

At one show during Gigantour 2005, Dream Theater performed a cover of "Cemetery Gates" along with Russell Allen of Symphony X, Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory, and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth as a tribute to Dimebag.

Abbott frequently appeared in guitar magazines, both in advertisements for equipment he endorsed and in readers' polls, where he was often included in the top ten metal guitarist spots. In addition, he wrote a long-running Guitar World magazine column, which has been compiled in the book Riffer Madness (ISBN 0-7692-9101-5). Total Guitar frequently featured him and wrote about him in the months leading up to his death. One year after his death, they also made a tribute issue. The January 2008 issue of Metal Hammer was also dedicated to him. In the March 2008 issue of Guitar World Abbott was featured on the cover story "Dimebag, The Untold Story," and interviews with his then-guitar tech's Grady Champion and Rita Haney, and Vinnie Paul Abbott. As well, he was voted into the Guitar World Hall of Fame.

Abbott once said in a Guitar World interview that if there was no Ace Frehley, there would have been no "Dimebag" Darrell - he even had a tattoo of the "KISS" guitarist on his chest (in an interview asking why he chose to become a guitar player Abbott said that when he was young his father asked him if he wanted a BMX bike or a guitar for his birthday and he chose the BMX but after listening to a Black Sabbath album for the first time he went to his father to try and trade the bike for the guitar). Ace signed the tattoo in pen ink upon meeting him, at Dimebag's request, and then the autograph was painstakingly tattooed over soon after, so as never to be washed off.

Abbott was also an avid consumer of alcoholic beverages, as exemplified by his invention of a cocktail. The drink consists of one shot of "Crown Royal" whiskey, with a splash of just enough Coca-Cola to darken the whiskey's color known as the "Black Tooth Grin". 

In the late 1980s, around the time of Power Metal, Abbott often covered songs by guitarist Joe Satriani, such as "Crushing Day". He also incorporated elements of Satriani songs like "Echo" into his live solos as well. Abbott stated, in various interviews, that his riffs were largely influenced by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. Tony also influenced Dimebag's tunings, which often went down to C# or lower. Pantera covered Black Sabbath songs "Planet Caravan", "Paranoid", "Hole In the Sky" and "Electric Funeral."

He also cited thrash giants Anthrax, Metallica and, despite a sometimes vicious feud, Megadeth as primary influences. He was also a great fan of Slayer and a good friend of Kerry King. Dimebag mentioned in an interview with Guitar World that the clean chord passages in the intro to Cemetery Gates were influenced by the clean chordal passages found in much of Ty Tabor's (King's X) playing. As with Gibbons, Abbott frequently made use of pentatonic scales and slide guitar in both his leads and rhythms. Both guitarist employ blues scales, start / stop dynamics and pedal tones, as in Dimebag's southern style riff in "The Great Southern Trendkill", and the main riff to ZZ Top's "Tush". Randy Rhoads' style chord arpeggios can be heard in much of Dimebag's playing as well, noted examples being "Floods", "Shedding Skin", "The Sleep", and "This Love". He also stated that "Eddie Van Halen was heavy rock and roll, but Randy was heavy metal".

Eddie Van Halen, whom Abbott had recently befriended, placed his original black with yellow stripes guitar (commonly called "bumblebee") into the Kiss Kasket. Abbott had mentioned to Ed that he liked that color combination the best of Ed's guitars (this guitar appears on the back sleeve of Van Halen's second album "Van Halen II"), and Eddie was going to paint one that way for him. Darrell also credited Vito Rulez of Chauncy for convincing him to try Bill Lawrence pickups. According to an interview with Dino Cazares then of Fear Factory Abbott told him that during the recording of Reinventing the Steel he A/B'd his guitar tone with Dino's (incidentally during the making of Fear Factory's Demanufacture Cazares A/B'd his guitar tone against that of Vulgar Display of Power). Abbott co-designed a guitar with Dean just months before his death. Called the Razorback, it was a modified version of the ML. It is more pointed and has extra barbs on the wings. This design spawned variations, such as a 24-fret version, different paint jobs including a flamed maple top with natural finish, EMG pickups, and also helped with the design of the V-shaped version, the Razorback V (lacking the neck-pointing front wing).

Pete Willis of Def Leppard was also seen another major influence for Darrell. On his Guitar World magazine tribute issue, Abbott was quoted as saying, "Man, that first Leppard album really jams, and their original guitarist, Pete Willis, was a great player. I was inspired by him because I was a small young dude and he was a small young dude, too—and he was out there kickin’ ass. He made me want to get out there and play. Def Leppard used the two-guitar thing much more back then than they do now." 

Dean issued a tribute guitar to honor his death, featuring the tribute logo on the neck, a razor inlay on the 12th fret, and hand-painted "rusty-metal"-style graphics. The pickups include a Dimebucker at the Bridge and a standard "zebra" Dean pickup at the neck, the tremolo is a Floyd Rose double-locking, and the knobs are the Dimebag Traction knobs. They use all-black hardware, and almost all of them have 22 frets, a Floyd Rose tremolo, Seymour Duncan pickups (including the SH-13 Dimebucker), and set-neck construction. Abbott flipped the bridge pickup upside down, so the low-E string magnet was on the high-E string. This was because he wanted the sound not to be so shrill, similar to Jimi Hendrix, and it also meant the hotter coil of the humbucker was farther away from the bridge.

Abbott performed on Anthrax albums, including Stomp 442 (1995); Volume 8: The Threat Is Real (1998); the Inside Out EP (1998) and We've Come for You All (2003). With Damageplan, Abbott played on the Devastation Sampler (2003) and on the album New Found Power (2004). With Pantera, Abbott recorded a number of albums, EPs, singles, and videos, including Power Metal (1988); Cowboys from Hell (1990); Vulgar Display of Power (1992); and Hostile Moments (1994). He also recorded albums under his own name, including Country Western Transvestite Whore and Supercop Soundtrack (1996) and he recorded a country music album entitled Rebel Meets Rebel (2004).

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:55
 

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