Personalities | Dimebag Darrell | Cut off in His Prime | Guitar Heroes

Despite a life cut tragically short by violence, Darrell Lance Abbott (1966–2004), known as ‘Dimebag Darrell,’ achieved stardom not only as a founding member of the bands Pantera and Damageplan, but also in death as an icon who succumbed onstage and carried his passions to the grave.

Darrell Abbott took up guitar when he was 12. He was a devoted fan of Black Sabbath and Kiss. (He later had an autograph on his chest by Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley tattooed in place.) Abbott formed Pantera in 1981 with his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul. Influenced by metal acts from Iron Maiden to Slayer, Pantera became a force in the subgenre ‘groove’ metal. Pantera scored with Cowboys From Hell in 1990 and cemented their reputation with Vulgar Display Of Power in 1992, as the band adopted a heavier vocal and guitar sound. However, by 2003, frictions with vocalist Phil Anselmo caused the group to split.

A year later, Dimebag and Vinnie formed Damageplan with guitarist Pat Lachman and Bob Zilla on bass, and released the hit album New Found Power. Throughout the runs of Pantera and Damageplan, Dimebag performed as a guest on multiple projects, including cuts for Nickelback, country singer David Allan Coe and the Dallas Stars hockey team. He was called ‘the sixth member of Anthrax’, because of his many guest appearances on the band’s albums.

In 2004, Abbott was performing with Damageplan at a club in Columbus, Ohio. Nathan Gale, a paranoid schizophrenic, approached the stage and shot Abbott five times, killing him instantly, along with three others, and wounding seven more. Gale was shot and killed by police officer James Niggemeyer. Dimebag was buried in a Kiss Kasket with Eddie Van Halen’s Charvel Hybrid VH2 – a black and yellow Frankenstrat guitar, known as ‘Bumblebee’, that was on the cover of Van Halen II.

Dimebag wrote a column for Guitar World, and three of his solos, ‘Walk,’ ‘Cemetery Gates’ and ‘Floods’, are ranked among the magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of all time.

Essential Recordings

Pantera: Cowboys From Hell

Pantera: Vulgar Display Of Power

Pantera: Far Beyond Driven

Damageplan: New Found Power

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