Sunday Marks 15th Anniversary Of Dimebag Darrell's Death


Sunday (December 8th) marks the 15th 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 on this date in 2004 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 Abbott, for the break-up of Pantera in 2002. Columbus police closed their investigation in October of 2005 without establishing a motive for the shootings.

Dimebag and Vinnie 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 Number One on the Billboard Top 200 without benefit of a commercial hit single.

The group splintered 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.

Dime'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.

After taking a nearly two-year hiatus from playing, Vinnie returned in 2006 with Hellyeah, a band he formed with members of Mudvayne and Nothingface. Vinnie toured and recorded with Hellyeah for 12 years, until his own tragic death from heart disease at the age of 54 in June 2018. His last album with Hellyeah, Welcome Home, was released this past September.


Vinnie had told us a while back that Dimebag always held himself to a high standard as a guitarist: "He was always giving everything he had. He wanted to be everything Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads were together, and then there was this rhythm guitar player that blew him away named James Hetfield...he never stop striving for that, even up 'til the end. He was always striving to be the best guitar player he could ever be, period."

Vinnie Paul told us 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. 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. 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 once told us 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. 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 f***in' time and they don't forget it."