This past December marked 10 years since metal lost one of its most dynamic personalities. Darrell Abbot of Pantera fame was senselessly killed while playing on stage. If you don’t remember or are two young too, here is a look back on what happened to Dimebag.
On the evening of December 8th 2004, Dimebag (use your imagination for why he was nicknamed this) was shot by a young man who was obsessed with heavy metal. At this time, Dimebag had left Pantera and was performing with his new band Damageplan at a nightclub in Columbus Ohio.
Coincidentally, the shooting occurred on the 24th anniversary of the shooting of John Lennon, former front man for the Brit pop sensation of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, the Beatles. Dimebag was killed by a well built ex-marine, 25 year old Nathan Gale, who they believe was upset by the recent dismantle of Pantera. This can never be confirmed, nor if he thought Dimebag was responsible since Columbus police shot him down only minutes after the first fatal shot had been fired.
Also killed during the mayhem was a 23 year old fan of Dimebag, Nathan Bray, and a crew member of Damageplan, 40 year old Jeff “mayhem” Thompson. The fifth victim was a 29 year old employee of the club, Erin A. Halk.
Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott was known for being an expressive guitarist who seemed to emulate the fluidity of Eddie Van Halen, even in the much harder rhythms of power groove thrash. But as unique as his sound was, so was his appearance. In 1992 he shocked the rock world with a bright pink goatee that tumbled down from his chin. No beard grooming tips needed there, he rocked that pink beard as well as he rocked the stage. In a tribute to Dimebag after his death, Scott Ian also died his goatee pink, albeit more fashionably with plenty of beard conditioning balm.
There were 3 other bands on the bill for the nightclub that night, and over 250 people inside watching them. It was later reported that the shooter, Gale, waited outside in the parking lot for Dimebag to enter the stage. Witnesses report seeing him, and the club’s owner asked him to leave. Instead, he jumped a fence, entered a side door and rushed the stage when Damageplan started their set. Dimebag was only 90 seconds into his first song when the deranged Gale walked up to him seemingly from nowhere.
Sadly, the singer was completely blindsided, as he was head banging at the time with his hair covering his eyes. He was shot once in the forehead, as fans and fellow band members looked on in utter shock. Most of the club had no clue what had just transpired, and some assumed it was an elaborate hoax. His brother, the bands drummer, stood up from behind his kit in shock as the blood began to pool onto the stage.
There is no way to make any sense of this tragedy, as people who bore witness to it that night are still haunted by the memory. A metal legend, and good man, was lost that night but his memory will live forever.