Former PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott says that he has "found peace" 10 years after witnessing the murder of his brother while they were both playing at a club in Ohio.
Dimebag was shot dead on December 8, 2004 while performing with his band DAMAGEPLAN at Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. The shooting that night claimed three other lives and seven more were injured as the mad gunman opened fire on the crowd at the small club north of downtown Columbus.
One of heavy metal's most influential and beloved figures, Dimebag was a larger-than-life guitarist and a genuine, amusing human being who was rarely spotted without his favorite drink, the "black tooth grin" — a splash of Coca-Cola and two shots of whisky.
During a recent chat with WWE wrestling superstar and FOZZY singer Chris Jericho for the "Talk Is Jericho" podcast, Vinnie spoke about how he feels that Dimebag's spirit and energy is always with him and inspires him to be the best that he can be.
"The funniest thing that's ever happened to me… I turned 50 this year, and it was the best birthday party I ever had in my entire life. It was absolutely incredible," Vinnie said.
"I still feel like a 19-year-old kid, man. Everything I do, I approach the same way. I'm not married. I don't have any kids. I've been married to music my entire life. I've been dedicated to it. I know what it takes to do it. And ever since my brother has been taken from me, I feel like I have to live for both of us. And I bring it everywhere I go, everything I do, and I think he's here with us, watching us and enjoying everything that's going on, man."
Vinnie also talked about how his brother cherished being a rock star, was always "on," and lived to have a raucous good time. And he always made sure everyone around him was as pumped up, comfortable and/or inebriated as he was.
"The thing that turned him on the most in this world was putting a smile on other people's faces," Vinnie said. "It didn't matter where it was, when it was, how it was, whether it was playing his guitar, whether it was shaking a hand, signing an autograph, giving him a pick, just saying hi. That was the most important thing in his life — making other people smile."
He continued: "I remember the last show we ever played together with DAMAGEPLAN, we played in Buffalo, New York, and I wanted to… Actually, we wanted to go to the casino in Niagara Falls and he was really smoked. We had two more shows left. We were gonna do Mancow's show in Chicago the next day. And I said, 'Dime, man, let's go to the casino, man.' And he was, like, 'Man, Vinnie, I'm really, really tired. I wanna kill these last two shows. I'm gonna go home and make the next DAMAGEPLAN record. I wanna kill this.' He goes, 'You go have a good time, man. I'll see you in a little bit.' So me and Mayhem, our security guy that got killed that night [in Columbus], went with me, and we went to the casino and we had a great time. And the bus pulled up about 3 o'clock in the morning to get us, and I came on the bus, and there was a full party going on in the front lounge. And I'm, like, 'What is going on in here?' It was Dime and there was, like, 12 people I'd never seen in my life. And I said, 'Dime, I thought you were [tired].' And he goes, 'Dude, I couldn't let these people down, man. They wanted to party tonight, man.' And that's how my brother was. He just would not let people down."
Asked if he always shared his brother's fun-loving approach to life, Vinnie replied: "I always had that attitude, he always had that attitude. That American Express commercial, 'You can't take it with you,' was always special, but it never was real until that happened."
He continued; "Me and [Dimebag] used to joke with each other all the time. We'd be on a plane and [we'd say], 'Hey, man, if we're going down, we're going down in a plane crash together.' It was always, 'We're gonna do this together.' 'Cause we did everything together. And we didn't get to do that together [that night in Columbus]. And… when I say 'we didn't get to,' I don't mean to say that.
"It was a really hardcore, tragic event, and the guy [Nathan Gale] wanted to kill me too. And somehow or another, I was lucky enough to escape that, and I'm still here, and I will do everything and anything I can to carry on the legacy and the tradition that my brother always had."
Even though it's been a decade since his brother's murder, Vinnie still gets flashbacks of the day's events "every night." He says: "I don't wanna remember it, I don't wanna think about it, I don't want anybody saying, 'Hey, man…' You know…
"It's hard. It's hard. But I've found peace.
"I'm really happy with what I do with [my current band HELLYEAH], and I'm glad that we're moving forward and things are really good, man. Really good."
Former PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott has once again shot down the possibility of a PANTERA reunion with Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE) filling in for the late "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott on guitar.
Matt Wake of AL.com recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
AL.com: A special, 20th-anniversary edition of PANTERA's "Far Beyond Driven", which was a No. 1 album in 1994, was recently released. Is there anything you appreciate more about the record now?
Vinnie Paul: Being a part of the production of every record I've ever been a part of, I really, really appreciate the fact it was recorded analog. It was before Pro Tools existed and music became simple, you could cut, paste and do that. Back then you had to play every single note that was on there, man. And you had to sing every note and (play) every drum lick and every part, and you had to be really good to get all that stuff right. I really do appreciate that more than ever.
AL.com: Do you care if PANTERA ever gets inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?
Vinnie Paul: Uh, I don't really think so, man. It's already been proven there are tons of travesties that have gone on with that place. How in the world did it take forever to get BLACK SABBATH in there? Honestly, I don't think PANTERA will ever get in there. But if we do, I'm going to embrace it just like anything else. I've actually been there and heavy metal is barely even represented in the place, so I wouldn't expect that to happen.
AL.com: You own the Clubhouse strip club in Dallas and a string of Latino-themed strip clubs, called Chicas Bonitas. What separates an awesome strip club from a lame one?
Vinnie Paul: I think there's one thing, man. Most strip clubs provide a service. That's what they're there for. My strip clubs provide a party and I want people to have a damn good time while they're in there. When they come in, I want people to be able to afford the drinks, to be able to afford the girls, I want them to hear good rock 'n' roll music and not feel like they're part of a machine.
Read the entire interview at AL.com.
On March 7, former PANTERA and current HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott was interviewed in the studios of the Stockholm, Sweden-based radio station Bandit Rock 106.3. You can now watch the chat below.
Asked about PANTERA's enduring influence on younger metal bands, Vinnie Paul said: "I can't complain about that, man. You know, emulation is the greatest form of flattery."
He continued: "[PANTERA] was a very influential band and we accomplished a lot of things that metal bands had never done at the time. In 1994, we had the first record by a true heavy metal band to ever hit the Billboard top No. 1 slot. We paved the way. And we always waved the heavy metal flag. So many bands would say that they were alternative, or they were this or that… 'Heavy metal' was a pretty uncool word after about 1992; it was almost like, 'Stay away.' But it didn't bother us one bit. And our fans were the best ever."
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of PANTERA's seventh studio album, "Far Beyond Driven", a two-disc edition of the record will be made available on March 25. The new version will include a newly remastered version of the original recordings along with a new live performance from the 1994 Monsters Of Rock festival.
When PANTERA broke up in 2003, Vinnie Paul and his brother, PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by Nathan Gale. He was 38 years old.
RockNLive.org recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. You can now watch the chat below.
HELLYEAH's fourth studio album, "Blood For Blood", will be released on June 10 via Eleven Seven Music. The CD was helmed by producer Kevin Churko at his The Hideout Recording Studio in Las Vegas, Nevada. Churko is the Canadian musician, sound engineer, songwriter and record producer who has previously worked with OZZY OSBOURNE, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and IN THIS MOMENT, among other acts.
Prior to the recording of the new album, HELLYEAH parted ways with guitarist Greg Tribbett (MUDVAYNE) and bassist Bob "Zilla" Kakaha (DAMAGEPLAN). A replacement bassist in the shape of Kyle Sanders (former member of BLOODSIMPLE and the brother of MASTODON's Troy Sanders) has been secured.
Still in the lineup are original drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, guitarist Tom Maxwell and singer Chad Gray.
Speaking to RockNLive.org about Sanders' addition to HELLYEAH, Vinnie Paul said: "After we realized we were gonna have to part ways with Bob and Greg, we wanted to make sure that we brought somebody in that was a 'bro,' somebody that we felt comfortable with. We didn't wanna go through an audition process and bring a whole bunch of different people in that we had no idea, anything about their character or dynamic or what they were all about. And Kyle had toured with HELLYEAH many times with his band BLOODSIMPLE, who we were all fans of. As a matter of fact, BLOODSIMPLE was on Chad's label when he had a label. And he was the first guy that came to our mind. And the first phone call we gave to him, we barely mentioned it and he said, 'I'm the guy. I wanna do it. I wanna do it.' And that's all we needed to hear; that was perfect. So he's gonna be a perfect addition to the band. We shot the videos together and we hung out, and he's really into it. So it worked out perfect for us. And to complement Tom on guitar, these songs for this record really have a lot of duelling guitars and a lot of parts, we're gonna add a touring guitarist. We haven't announced who that is yet, but I can tell you he's a hell of a guitar player. So we'll do that soon. And the band's gonna be stronger than ever. There's nothing like having some fresh blood out on the road with you. And these guys are gonna kill, we're gonna kill, and we've got a great new record to tour with."
A press release describes "Blood For Blood" as a "welcome return to form" for the band, adding that it "sounds like a recharged HELLYEAH, taken up many notches."
HELLYEAH will hit the road this spring, starting with several festival slots in April and May.
HELLYEAH was formed in 2006 by NOTHINGFACE guitarist Tom Maxwell and bassist Jerry Montano, MUDVAYNE singer Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett, and former PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott.
Montano left a week after the release of the band's self-titled debut album in 2007 and was replaced by Bob "Zilla" Kakaha, who had played with Abbott in DAMAGEPLAN.
HELLYEAH's other albums include 2009's "Stampede" and 2011's "Band Of Brothers".
MUDVAYNE has not released an album since 2009 while Gray and Tribbett have been working with HELLYEAH.
In the brand new issue of U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine, former PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott recalls how the band began falling apart in the midst of its biggest success after singer Philip Anselmo turned to heroin to combat his back pain.
"This is when the drug thing came about and everything started going sideways with him," Vinnie says. "That's when the band and him started separating and he started demanding his own tour bus. We'd see him before the show and then he'd be gone, and you never knew which Phil you were gonna get. You might get the pitbull that we all knew and loved, or you might get some dude who was completely whacked out on heroin and didn't do what he was supposed to do.
"It did become difficult on that touring cycle, but also we'd never had a break, so we could never get away from it.
"A lot of elements started creeping in, particularly with him. I mean, we were all in some pain. I had to deal with tendonitis, but I never turned to drugs to pacify it.
"None of us had any clue that he was even thinking of doing heroin — we used to be the most anti-drug guys in the world — and when he OD'ed in Dallas, when we played our big homecoming show to 18,000 people, the first thing that came to my mind was that he'd passed out because of the heat. When I saw him laying on the ground, blue, I was, like, 'What the fuck?' If it hadn't been for our drum tech, Kat, chasing down some paramedics, [Anselmo] wouldn't be around anymore. And it really would have been a shock because none of us had a clue.
"It definitely went from being all hunky dory to being a lot more work and not knowing what was gonna happen.
"We kept working, and, really, our intention wasn't to stop. Until Phil decided he'd rather go and do DOWN and SUPERJOINT RITUAL, we never stopped. I really felt like we were gonna be THE ROLLING STONES of heavy metal, and we could have been."
Vinnie, who is late PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott's brother, and Anselmo have not spoken since PANTERA split in 2003. But the relationship got even more acrimonious when Vinnie indirectly blamed Philip for Dimebag's death, suggesting that some remarks the vocalist had made about Dimebag in print just weeks earlier might have incited Dimebag's killer.
Asked if he thinks Vinnie Paul will ever be open to repairing the rift, Anselmo told Artisan News: "You know, that would be a question for Vinnie Paul; I don't know. But once again I'll say that I love him. I feel his pain every single day. Dime was very much my brother, Rex's [Brown; PANTERA bassist] brother as well."
He continued: "In this life, one thing I've learned is that it does not take pure blood to make family; it's the relationship and how strong you hold that bond. And once again, my door is always open for Vince."
Dimebag's longtime girlfriend Rita Haney has called on Vinnie and Anselmo to settle their differences in honor of Dimebag, telling the producers of "Behind The Music Remastered: Pantera" that she forgave the singer after they found themselves unexpectedly face to face at a concert in California.
In Rex Brown's memoir, "Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story Of Pantera", Haney said: "My line has softened over the years since Darrell's death, probably because I feel an element of forgiveness and a desire for everybody to get along. No matter what ever happened, nobody did this to Darrell. I mean, they — Rex and Philip — didn't. The person who did it did it, and no matter what reason the killer — if he was still alive today — could give to justify that, it wouldn't change anything. But when you go through something like this, you want to lay blame somewhere. Obviously I had resentment to Rex and Philip because I had to watch Darrell trying to save his band. I wanted to fix it for him. As far as Philip is concerned, we are at least communicating, albeit on a fairly surface level. We haven't talked about any deep things like resentments because I've told him that I still harbor some resentment for how he handled band issues and how that impacted Darrell and I've made that very clear to him. And it's hard for me to trust him. But we'll see. It's a start and in time we'll probably sit down face to face."
She continued: "Despite all the issues I'll say this: going out selling the merchandise for Darrell every summer has given me a whole different perspective. When you are with all the people that PANTERA's music touched and you hear the stories they have about how a certain song got them through, even if they never got to see them, it makes you realize that you're being selfish and that your issues are petty and false. I'm not the big picture. They are. I'm so grateful for all the things I learned from Darrell and I want to try to be that kind of person you know. Better."
She added: "I wish Vince was more like his brother when it comes to welcoming new people into his world, instead of feeling strapped up or that it's a problem or an inconvenience. Of course it can be overwhelming, I used to watch Darrell every day and marveled at how amazing he was at handling it, but I wish there was more of that in Vinnie. I know he has never really dealt with the death of his brother head on, and instead he's chosen to shut it away and hope that he'll never have to discuss it. If he was open to sharing some of his stories with people, he might just find peace, and if he let people in, he might also just see the big picture I'm talking about."
Asked about the persistent rumors of a PANTERA reunion with Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE) filling in for Dimebag on guitar, Vinnie tells Metal Hammer: "All I can say is rumors are rumors.
"I'm not interested because there 's no Dime, and, to me, if there's no Dime, there's no PANTERA.
"That's my reason. It's behind me. I've moved on.
"I play in a band called HELLYEAH and I really love doing it.
"I'm looking forward to moving forward; I don't wanna live in the past."