|Born on: 20.08.1966
Died on: 08.12.2004
Dimebag Darrell (born Darrell Lance Abbott on August 20, 1966, Arlington, Texas - December 8, 2004, Columbus, Ohio), also known as Diamond Darrell until mid 1992, was the lead guitarist for the heavy metal bands Pantera, Damageplan and Rebel Meets Rebel.
At a very young age Darrell won a series of local guitar competitions where he won his first Dean (later known as the ML styled guitar.) Incidentally, his father, Jerry Abbott, had bought him a cherryburst finished 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. By the age of 18 he had already won all the guitar contests in that area of Texas and was banned from all competitions (due to winning them all), but was asked to return as a judge.
Pantera was formed in 1981 with Dimebag's brother Vinnie Paul on drums. The band officially split in 2003 due to conflicts between members. Phil Anselmo, in the throes of a heroin addiction, started lashing out at other members. Anselmo left the band for other projects, such as Superjoint Ritual and Down. After 1 year, brothers Vinnie and Dimebag eventually moved on and went on to form Damageplan, and Rebel Meets Rebel with country legend David Allen Coe.
Shortly before singer Phil Anselmo joined Pantera, Dimebag Darrell was invited to join Dave Mustaine's Megadeth. According to both Darrell and Mustaine's telling, Darrell was willing to join, but insisted on Mustaine also hiring his brother Vinnie. Mustaine replied that he had already hired Nick Menza, Darrell turned down his offer and stayed with Pantera.
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. Vinnie's favorite recorded Dimebag solo is on this album, part of the track "Get Out Of My Life". The album was released May 2, 2006 on Vinnie's "Big Vin Records" label.
Dimebag 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". Dimebag also performed a solo on the titular track from King Diamond's Voodoo album. Additionally a sample of a Dimebag guitar solo has been put in the Nickelback song "Side of a Bullet".
Shortly before Dimebag'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," which coincidentally is the title of one of the songs featured on the debut album by Anselmo's project Down. The band consists of two of Dimebag's cousins (bassist Heather Manly and guitarist April Adkisson).
There was speculation that Dimebag and close friend Zakk Wylde would collaborate with Kerry King; however, nothing was confirmed. He was also confirmed as one of the original guitar player choices for Liquid Tension Experiment by Mike Portnoy.
Dimebag's musical roots were in Country Western music; he supported the local music scene in Dallas and would sometimes record with local musicians. On December 2, 2006 a very rare track of one of his collaborations was discovered. Dimebag 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.
Dimebag 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 Mingus and Stroker from Pumpjack. 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.
Among Dimebag's influences were Kiss, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen, Ace Frehley, Angus Young, Kal Edmondson, Rusty Burns (Point Blank), Jimi Hendrix and Pat Travers. Dimebag once said in an 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. 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. Eddie Van Halen's original black and white striped guitar was Dimebag's favorite guitar of all-time, and when Dimebag and Eddie Van Halen met, shortly before Dime's death, he let Eddie know that. That guitar is buried in Dimebag's arms, in his KISS coffin. In addition, he cited many of his contemporaries among his influences, including Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, Prong's Tommy Victor and Helmet's Page Hamilton. He also credits Vito Rulez of Chauncy for convincing him to try Bill Lawrence pickups. According to an interview with Dino Cazares then of Fear Factory Dimebag 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).
In the late 80's, around the time of "Power Metal", Dimebag 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 has 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 Planet Caravan, Paranoid, Hole In the Sky and Electric Funeral by Black Sabbath.
He has 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 chord passages found in much Ty Tabor's, of King's X, material. Dimebag cited Alice in Chains as his favorite grunge band, and Pantera frequently toured with them. The first song Dimebag learned was said to be "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple. Dimebag has stated on multiple occasions that ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons' bluesy, soulful playing style has, if subtly, had an influence over him.
As with Gibbons, Dimebag 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".
Darrell was also an avid consumer of alcoholic beverages. He invented a cocktail, known as the "Black Tooth Grin", named after a lyric in the Megadeth song "Sweating Bullets". The drink consists of one shot of both "Seagrams 7" and "Crown Royal" whiskey, with a splash of just enough Coca-Cola to darken the whiskey's color.
Darrell 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). Dean issued a tribute guitar to honor Darrell's death, featuring the tribute logo on the neck, razor inlay on the 12th fret, and hand-painted rusty-metal 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. All of the Dean Razorback guitars feature black hardware, and almost all of them feature 22 frets, a Floyd Rose tremolo, Seymour Duncan pickups (including the SH-13 Dimebucker), and set-neck construction.
Dimebag 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, Dimebag 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.
On December 8, 2004, while performing with Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag Darrell Abbott was shot and killed onstage by Nathan Gale. Abbott was shot a total of four times, at point-blank range in the back of the head. He was 38 years old.
Three others were killed in the shooting: concert attendee Nathan Bray, 23 of Columbus; club employee Erin Halk, 29 of northwest Columbus; and Damageplan security guard Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, 40 of Texas.
The band's drum technician, John "Kat" Brooks, and tour manager, Chris Paluska, were also injured.
According to police, Gale fired a total of fifteen shots, taking the time to reload once, remaining silent throughout the shooting. When security staff tried to stop him, Gale fired at them, wounding Paluska, and killing Halk, who had attempted to stop the gunman with a beer bottle as a weapon. Damageplan head of security Jeffery Thompson fought with Gale for a short time, stopping him from killing Vinnie Paul Abbott and John Graham, as well as knocking off Gale's glasses (preventing him from seeing Officer Niggemeyer just minutes later), before being fatally wounded by Gale. Audience member Nathan Bray, who jumped onstage to try to give CPR to Dimebag and Thompson, stood up and took a single step towards Gale before being shot a single time in the chest. 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 shot Gale in the face with a police-issued 12-gauge shotgun. Gale was found to have 35 rounds of ammunition remaining.
During the rampage, nurse and audience member Mindy Reece, 28, went to the aid of Abbott. She and another fan administered CPR until paramedics arrived. Dimebag Darrell was buried at the Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Texas.
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 brave work. In 2006 James Niggemeyer penned the foreword to A Vulgar Display Of Power: Courage and Carnage at the Alrosa Villa.
Early theories of motive suggested that Gale may have acted based on the Pantera breakup, or a 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, show that the motive of Pantera's breakup or the idea of stolen songs is false, and that due to his condition, paranoid schizophrenia, he believed that the band could read his mind, were stealing his thoughts, and laughing at him.
On May 17, 2007 Dimebag Darrell was posthumously inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk, the only sidewalk gallery dedicated to honoring those artists who have made a significant impact and lasting contribution to the growth and evolution of rock 'n' roll.
In his early career as a musician, Dimebag used Dean ML guitars and Bill Lawrence L500XL pickups, which he would install in a reversed position to have the "hot" blade facing the neck. His main guitars were an ML guitar customized by Buddy Blaze, painted with a unique lightning bolt design and was equipped with a 'Floyd Rose tremolo bar called the "Dean From Hell", and a Braziliaburst ML. He used Dean guitars from 1983 - 1995. When Dean guitars went out of business, he ended up going to numerous other guitar companies. Failing to get an endorsement from BC Rich guitars (which his fellow guitar playing friend Kerry King used), he then went to Jackson Guitars for a short period of time (about four months) before he switched to Washburn. Dimebag used Washburn guitars from 1996 - 2004 endorsing various signature models such as the Dimebolt and the Stealth. His main guitars at this point were the Dime 3, the Stealth, and the Culprit (a unique model designed by Washburn which varied greatly from the ML). Seymour Duncan manufactures a signature pickup co-designed by Dime, called the Dimebucker. Dimebag endorsed Seymour Duncan, but continued to use Bill Lawrence pickups in most of his personal guitars. Several months before his death, Darrell ended his long relationship with Washburn guitars, and again became a Dean endorsee, coinciding with Dean Guitar founder Dean Zelinksy's return. Dean guitars built him a brand new signature guitar, called the Dime O' Flame, which he began using live. As a tribute to him, in 2005 Dean Guitars released the new Dimebag Tribute line of ML guitars. These guitars come in various models, ranging from lower end ones that have a stop tail piece, a bolt-on neck, Basswood Body, and lower quality pickups, to higher end models with Dimebuckers, a Floyd Rose bridge, and set neck construction. In his last few weeks with Dean Guitars, Dimebag helped design a guitar he called the Razorback. After his death, Dean continued with the Razorback project and dedicated them to the memory of him. During the height of Dimebag's fame, he also worked together with MXR and Dunlop to produce the MXR Dimebag Distortion and the Dimebag "Crybaby from Hell" Wah respectively.
Darrells Amps, pedals and gear:
Randall RG100ES Heads (1983 - 1991, 1996)
Randall Century 200 Heads (1992 - 1995, 1998 - 2000)
Randall Warhead Heads (2000 - 2004)
Randall X2 Warhead Heads (2004)
Krank Revolution Heads (Late 2004)
MXR 6 Band Graphic Equalizer
Furman PQ4 (1983 - 1995, 2004)
Furman PQ3 (1996 - 2001)
Furman PQ3 Reissue (2004)
Digitech Whammy Pedal
Jim Dunlop 535Q Wah Pedal
Korg Rackmount Tuner
When Dimebag left Washburn a few weeks before his death, he also left Randall Amps. Dimebag had always sworn by his solid-state Randall's through the years, but in late 2004 he switched to Krank amplifiers, which were purely tube driven. He planned to redefine his very own sound by developing the "Krankenstein". He used the Zakk Wylde Overdrive with the Krank amps.