Darrell Lance Abbott (August 20, 1966 – December 8, 2004), also known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell, was an American guitarist and songwriter best known as a founding member of two bands, Pantera and Damageplan, alongside his brother, Vinnie Paul. He is considered to be one of the driving forces behind groove metal.
Abbott was shot and killed by a gunman while on stage during a performance with Damageplan on December 8, 2004, at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. He ranked No. 92 in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists and No. 1 in the UK magazine, Metal Hammer.
Abbott was born to Carolyn and Jerry Abbott, a country musician and producer. He took up the guitar when he was twelve, with his first being a Hondo Les Paul along with a small amplifier. Upon winning a series of local guitar competitions, most notably held at the Agora Theatre and Ballroom in Dallas, Texas, Abbott was awarded a Dean ML. He then sold this guitar to luthier Buddy Blaze, who installed a Floyd Rose bridge and emblazoned it with Abbott's signature lighting bolt paint job; Blaze returned it some years later. Coincidentally, his father had also bought him a Dean ML the morning before the aforementioned competition, but one with a cherry sunburst finish instead. Abbott met his long-time girlfriend Rita Haney at a young age around the third grade.
Abbott formed Pantera in 1981 with his brother Vinnie Paul on drums. The band played with thrash metal acts such as Slayer, Megadeth, Venom, and Metallica as well as traditional metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, 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 1990, Abbott dropped the nickname "Diamond Darrell" (after original Van Halen lead vocalist "Diamond" David Lee Roth) and assumed the nickname "Dimebag Darrell." Pantera began to suffer from mounting tensions between band members in the mid-1990s, largely due to vocalist Phil Anselmo's rampant drug abuse. In 2001, the group went on hiatus, during which time Anselmo worked on side projects, such as Superjoint Ritual and Down. This caused more friction within the band, as Abbott and Paul kept waiting for Anselmo to become available to work with them again. The frustration with Anselmo led to their decision to disband Pantera in 2003.
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 No. 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 by Dave Mustaine to join 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, and Philip Anselmo sang backing vocals. This song was released on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack on July 28, 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. The album was released May 2, 2006 on Vinnie's Big Vin Records label.
Abbott played guest guitar solos on several Anthrax songs during 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 an interview, Anthrax bassist Frank Bello said "Darrell was basically the sixth member of Anthrax". Abbott also performed a solo on the titular track of King Diamond's Voodoo album. A sample from a guitar solo by Abbott was used in the Nickelback song "Side of a Bullet", and he 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 'Puck-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. Vocals were by Sebastian Bach, rhythm guitars by Kane Roberts, drums by Michael Cartellone, and bass 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 sometimes recorded with local musicians. He played in a country band called Rebel Meets Rebel with country performer David Allan Coe.
In December 2006, a rare track of one of his collaborations was discovered. Abbott had 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", originally the name of a group featuring 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. In 2012, a previously unreleased track, "Twisted", featuring Dimebag on lead vocals and guitar, was used in a promotional video for Elephant Brand Skateboards' "Dimebag Tribute Skateboard. "Twisted" was also released as an MP3 download.
On December 8, 2004, Abbott was shot onstage while performing with Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. The gunman, Nathan Gale, shot Abbott three times in the head using a 9mm Beretta 92FS handgun with the third shot killing him instantly. Gale continued shooting, killing three more in addition to Abbott as well as wounding seven others. Gale fired a total of 15 shots, stopping to reload once.
Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, the band's head of security, was killed tackling Gale, as was Alrosa Villa employee Erin Halk. Audience member Nathan Bray was killed while trying to perform CPR on Abbott and Thompson. It was rumored that one crowd member leapt in front of the gunman, saving the lives of several band members. Damageplan drum technician, John "Kat" Brooks, was shot three times as he attempted to get the gun away from Gale, but was overpowered and taken hostage in a headlock position. Tour manager Chris Paluska was also injured.
Seven police officers came in the front entrance and moved toward the stage. Officer James Niggemeyer came in through the back door, behind the stage. Gale only saw the officers in front of the stage; he did not see Officer Niggemeyer, who was armed with a 12 gauge Remington 870 shotgun. He approached Gale from the opposite side of the stage to avoid hitting the hostage and fired a single shot just as Gale looked towards Niggemeyer, striking Gale in the face with eight of the nine buckshot pellets, killing him instantly. Gale was found to have had 35 rounds of ammunition remaining.
Two fans administered CPR on Dimebag until paramedics arrived, but were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Early theories of motive suggested that Gale might 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 that he had written.
Influences And Guitar Skills
Abbott once said in a Guitar World interview that if there were no Ace Frehley, there would have been no Dimebag Darrell who even had a tattoo of the KISS guitarist on his chest. Frehley signed the tattoo in pen ink upon meeting him, at Dimebag's request, and the autograph was later tattooed over.
Abbott stated in various interviews that his riffs were largely influenced by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. Iommi also influenced Dimebag's guitar tone and tunings, which often went down to C# or lower. Pantera covered Black Sabbath songs "Planet Caravan", "Hole in the Sky" and "Electric Funeral". Eddie Van Halen was another big influence on his style. He learned "Eruption" note-for-note and often played it live in his early days.
Pete Willis of Def Leppard was seen as another major influence for Darrell. In 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."
He also cited Kerry King of Slayer, Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society and James Hetfield of Metallica as other important influences. 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. 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 Billy Gibbons, Abbott frequently made use of pentatonic scales and pinch harmonics in both his leads and rhythms. Both guitarists employ blues scales, start / stop dynamics and pedal tones, as in Abbott'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 Abbott's playing as well, noted examples being "Floods", "Shedding Skin", "The Sleep" and "This Love". Three of Abbott's solos were ranked in Guitar World magazine's Top 100 of all-time: "Walk" (No. 57), "Cemetery Gates" (No. 35), and "Floods" (No. 15). Abbott stated that "Eddie Van Halen was heavy rock and roll, but Randy was heavy metal".
Eddie Van Halen, whom Abbott had befriended, placed his original black with yellow stripes guitar (commonly called "bumblebee") into the Kiss Kasket Abbott was buried in. Abbott had mentioned that those colors were his favorite combination, and Van Halen had agreed to craft a copy for Abbott only several months before his untimely death. However, upon hearing of the tragedy, he offered to place the original guitar in the casket. According to Darrell's girlfriend Rita, Van Halen stated: "Dime was an original and only an original deserves the original!". Vinnie Paul Abbott is cited to have said "If he had known he would be buried with this guitar, he would have said 'shoot me now!'". Abbott credited Vito Rulez of Chauncy for convincing him to try Bill Lawrence pickups.
According to an interview with Dino Cazares of Fear Factory, Abbott told him that during the recording of Reinventing the Steel he compared his guitar tone with Dino's. Incidentally, during the making of Fear Factory's Demanufacture, Cazares compared his guitar tone to that of Vulgar Display of Power.
Dimebag endorsed Dean Guitars since the 1980s. His first guitar was a Les Paul copy by Hondo. He then went on to own a Dean ML and his love for these guitars started at a young age, however, Dean had closed down and he collaborated with Washburn guitars to recreate his signature ML model he was famous for playing. Dimebag Darrell's contract with Washburn was at an end and he had made arrangements to be endorsed by Dean who had reopened with Darrell as their only endorsee. The tragic death of Darrell Abbott took place a mere few months before he would sign with Dean, his lifelong favourite guitar manufacturer. His father bought him a cherry sunburst 79 Dean ML in 1981 and later, that day, he won a burgundy ML in a guitar competition. He later sold this guitar to buy a car, during which time the guitar was heavily customized; the neck was re-shaped to imitate both a C shape and a D shape, a lightning bolt paint job was applied, and a Floyd Rose tremolo system was built in. This guitar was given back to Dimebag as a present, and became known as the famous Dean From Hell, which he used exclusively from 1988 until 1994. He also played a sunburst ML customized to his own specs on Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven.
His other guitars in his collection included a blue Hammer ML, a white ML from 1984, a red ML for the 'This Love' video, and two Jackson Rhoads guitars.
His Dean From Hell guitar had Bill Lawrence pickups. The Seymour Duncan guitar pickup company made a signature pickup called the Dimebucker, modeled after the Bill Lawrence original L-500XL pickups. After Dean guitars' demise in 1994 he signed with Washburn, going back to Dean again in 2004. He was buried with a Charvel guitar which was owned by Eddie Van Halen.
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. The 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).
Abbott frequently appeared in guitar magazines and in readers' polls, and wrote a long-running Guitar World magazine column, which was compiled into the book Riffer Madness. He was praised for his tone and was included in "The 50 Greatest Tones of All Time" by Guitar Player magazine. Remembered for his amiable nature and rapport with fans, Abbott was described by Allmusic as "one of the most influential stylists in modern metal."
- Ride For Dime Inc, a nationally registered 501 c 3 charity. Formed in 2005, they are currently running 6 nationwide chapters. They host annual motorcycle runs & concerts, with all proceeds going to Little Kids Rock, and towards funding the Ride For Dime Scholarship Fund. Ride For Dime is the only charity recognized and supported by the Abbott Estate. Visit them at www.ridefordime.org
- Thrash metal band Evile did a cover of "Cemetery Gates" as a tribute to Dimebag Darrell.
- Funk metal band 24-7 Spyz paid tribute to Darrell on their album Face the Day with an instrumental song called "Blues For Dimebag".
- Creed and Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti has a picture under the bridge of one of his PRS guitars showing a tribute to Dimebag Darrell.
- Country rock band Cross Canadian Ragweed debuted the song "Dimebag" while on tour to promote the album Garage. The band performed the song live for the first time at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio in early 2005.
- Michael Angelo Batio, another Dean guitar endorser, arranged three of Pantera's songs into a medley for a track called "Tribute to Dimebag" in his album, Hands Without Shadows 2 - Voices.
- A live version of Shinedown cover of "Simple Man" is dedicated to Dimebag Darrell.
- Trivium's album, The Crusade, says at the bottom of the final page, "Rest in peace Dimebag Darrell Abbott (1966–2004). Trivium also covered a small section of the Pantera song "Domination" during the Roadrunner United's Concert DVD.
- Disturbed in their 2005 release Ten Thousand Fists stated: "We would like to dedicate this record to the memory of our late fallen brother, Dimebag Darrell, one of the greatest guitar players to ever walk the face of this Earth." During their 2011 performance at Download Festival (UK), the band also dedicated a performance of Ten Thousand Fists to Dimebag." The band also performed a cover of "Walk" during the 2011 tour of Mayhem Festival in Dallas.
- French metal band Watcha dedicated a song on the album, Phenix, entitled "Dimebag". The lyrics contain many titles of Pantera albums.
- Guitarist Buckethead wrote "Dime", a song paying tribute to Abbott, which was available for free download shortly after Abbott's death. The song later made it onto Buckethead's album, Kaleidoscalp, titled "The Android of Notre Dame".
- He Came to Rock is a DVD/book tribute to Abbott released in November 2008. Darrell's brother Vinnie Paul and father Jerry toured to promote the book's release.
- The booklet in C.O.C.'s In the Arms of God album says "R.I.P. Dime" at the bottom of the last page.
- The song "Side of a Bullet" by Nickelback is a tribute to Dimebag; An unreleased solo composed of outtakes from the "Far Beyond Driven" era recorded by Dimebag, was mixed into the song.
- Groove metal band Machine Head dedicated a song to Dimebag on their album The Blackening, called Aesthetics of Hate. The song's lyrics are meant as a vicious retaliation against the Christian-conservative website The Iconoclast, which hosted an article of the same name bashing Darrell after his death. Also, on their tour with this album, they honored Dimebag during a concert by taking time to tell Dime's story. "Aesthetics of Hate" remains a mainstay on tour and is always dedicated to the memory of Darrell. Robb Flynn was a friend of Darrell's, who also took the time to remark both on how talented and how generous he was – reportedly, Robb owns a custom-made Washburn Dimebag guitar which was given to him as a replacement after Dimebag broke his touring guitar, but can't use it on stage due to contract disagreements. He used this guitar to record "Aesthetics of Hate". Machine Head have also recorded a cover of the Pantera song, "Fucking Hostile", for the Metal Hammer magazine tribute CD.
- Static-X's album Start A War was dedicated to Dimebag Darrell as it says in the inner booklet of the CD.
- In Avenged Sevenfold's City of Evil album, the song "Betrayed" is labeled as "In memory of Darrell Lance Abbott-"Dimebag Darrell". Avenged Sevenfold also did a cover of the Pantera song "Walk", and played live Mouth For War. During their 2011 performance at Download Festival (UK), Avenged Sevenfold dedicated a live performance of "Betrayed" to both Dimebag and their own band mate The Rev also playing Nightmare
- The 2006 album, Garage, by Cross Canadian Ragweed features the song "Dimebag" which references both Dimebag's songs and death.
- Crowbar dedicated their 2005 album Lifesblood for the Downtrodden to Dimebag Darrell.
- Argentinian band Carajo on live performances plays a medley with the songs Domination, Walk, Cowboys From Hell, Five Minutes Alone and Mouth For War.
- In 2006, Malibu punk/metal band 2Cents released Lost at Sea (Atlantic Records), which features a tribute song to Abbott titled "A Song for Darrell Abbott".
- Finnish metal band Kiuas' song "Bleeding Strings" from their 2006 album Reformation is dedicated to Dimebag Darrell.
- Phil Anselmo's band Down now dedicates the song "Lifer" from NOLA to Dimebag Darrell when performed live.
- Black Label Society now dedicates the song "In This River" to Dimebag.
- Brides of Destruction paid tribute to Dimebag Darrell on their 2005 release, Runaway Brides, with the track "Dimes in Heaven".
- In 2006, during Black Sabbath's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Geezer Butler dedicated his award to Dimebag Darrell and Cliff Burton of Metallica
- The lyrics of metal band Abnormality's 2007 song "Visions" are about Dimebag Darrel's death.
- The song "Leave it Alone" (with Jason Bittner, David Ellefson, Tristan "1690" Grigsby, Nick Bowcott and Brian Cashmore) is a tribute to Dimebag Darrell.
- The progressive death metal band Between the Buried and Me did a cover of "Cemetery Gates" on their album, The Anatomy of.
- While playing in Hammersmith in 2004, Melodic Death Metal band In Flames played a cover of "Fucking Hostile" and dedicated it to the memory of Dimebag Darrell.
- During Gigantour 2005, Dream Theater did a cover of Pantera's "Cemetery Gates" as a tribute to Dimebag. As an added bonus, they had Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory, and Russell Allen of Symphony X do guest vocals and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, do the main solo for the song.
- Brazilian death metal band Krisiun dedicated their 2006 album AssassiNation to the memory of Dimebag and late Vader drummer Doc.
- The 2009 album 11:11 by Rodrigo y Gabriela features a tribute track named "Atman" inspired by Dimebag.
- Ace Frehley's 2009 solo album Anomaly is dedicated to Dimebag, Eric Carr, and Les Paul.
- Ripper's 2009 album 'The Dead Have Rizen' is dedicated to Dimebag.
- Slayer guitarist Kerry King drinks a shot at the end of live performances as a tribute to Darrell and usually leaves one shot on stage "for Dime".
- Type O Negative played "Halloween in Heaven" off of the Dead Again album as a tribute to Dimebag when playing live.
- Brian "Head" Welch (guitarist of the band Korn) made an only-guitar song dedicated to Dimebag called "Letter to Dimebag".
- The booklet in the Evanescence album The Open Door, in Terry Balsamo's section says "..R.I.P dimebag."
- Guitar Hero II for Xbox 360 has an achievement named "Dimebag Darrell Award", when the player gets a 100-note streak on any song.
- A tribute album (known as Getcha Pull: A Tribute to Dimebag Darrell) by UK magazine Metal Hammer honored Dimebag. It came along with the magazine, which went on sale December 16, 2009.
- Blaze Bayley's song Dimebag from his 2012 solo album The King of Metal is a tribute to Darrell and tells the story of his shooting.
- Elephant Brand Skateboards released a Dimebag Tribute Skateboard in 2012. The board features Dimebag Darrell playing a guitar on the bottom of the board. A previously unreleased song, Twisted, that features Dimebag on lead vocals and guitar was used in the skateboard's promotional video.
- In 2006, Heart was featured in the VH1 "Decades Rock Live" Concert series featuring special guests, Alice in Chains, who reunited for the first time since Layne Staleys death. Phil Anselmo performed with AIC as a special guest singer. He and Jerry Cantrell dedicated the AIC song "Would" to both Layne and Dimebag.
- Anthrax's song "In The End" from their 2011 album, Worship Music, is dedicated to both Dimebag and Ronnie James Dio.
- Hard Rock supergroup Projected's song "12804" from their 2012 album, "Human" is written about Dimebag.
- Fusion Metal band Aghora's song, "Dime" is a tribute to Dimebag and features riffing similar to Dimebag's own style.
- Vic Anselmo's song I Cried (Tribute to Dimebag Darrell) on her album Trapped in a Dream. (2008)
- Eyehategod album 'Preaching The End-Time Message' has a dedication to Dimebag.
- Finnish metal musicians tour under the "Dimebag Beyond Forever" -banner, to gather money for crime victims. The tour was arranged from 2005 to 2010, and again in 2014. The band consists of front line metal musicians from Finland. The band plays Pantera -covers.
- On Five Finger Death Punch's 2013 live album release ("The Wrong Side of Heaven & The Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. I, Disc 2"), singer Ivan Moody announces to the crowd that "This One's for Dimebag" during their song "Far From Home." The band has also covered the Pantera song "A New Level" in other live performances.