Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as "Diamond Darrell", and "Dimebag Darrell" (August 20, 1966 – December 8, 2004) was an American guitarist, best known as a founding member of the heavy metal bands Pantera and Damageplan. He also performed in the southern rock band Rebel Meets Rebel.
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." On December 8, 2004, Abbott was murdered on stage during a Damageplan performance at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio.
Darrell Abbott was born to Carolyn and Jerry Abbott, a country musician and producer. He took up guitar when he was 12, and his first guitar was a Hondo Les Paul he got with a small amp. Winning a series of local guitar competitions, most notably held at The Agora Ballroom in Dallas; where he was awarded a Dean ML. Coincidentally, his father had bought him a cherryburst finish Dean ML standard the morning before the competition, so he only had a few hours of playing time on it. Eventually, according to friend and family interviews in Guitar World Magazine, Abbott was barred from competing in guitar competitions because he gave the other contestants no chance to win.These contest prizes, including his first Randall Amplifier, started a long-term relationship with the brands.
Pantera and Damageplan
Abbott formed Pantera in 1981 with his brother Vinnie Paul on drums. The band played with acts such as Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica, as well as traditional metalbands such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Venom, 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 1994, Abbott dropped the nickname "Diamond Darrell" 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 2003, the group went on an extended hiatus but never formally broke up.Anselmo left the band for other projects, such as Superjoint Ritual and Down.
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 number 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."
On December 8, 2004, Abbott was shot onstage while performing with Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio.
The gunman was Nathan Gale, who shot Abbott six times, including four times in the head, killing him instantly. Gale then continued shooting, killing four others and wounding a further seven. Gale fired a total of fifteen shots, stopping to reload once and remaining silent throughout the shooting.
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 Dimebag and Mayhem. It was rumored that one crowd member leaped 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, 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, 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, striking Gale in the face with eight of the nine buckshot pellets. Gale was found to have had 35 rounds of ammunition remaining.
Nurse and audience member Mindy Reece, 28, went to the aid of Abbott, and she and another fan administered CPR until paramedics arrived, but were unable to revive him.
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 indictNiggemeyer, finding that his actions were justified. Niggemeyer received a commendation from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission for his outstanding police work in a 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 efforts. In 2006 James Niggemeyer penned the foreword to a book written about the event A Vulgar Display of Power: Courage and Carnage at the Alrosa Villa.
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.In the book, A Vulgar Display Of Power, several of Gale's personal writings, given to the author by his mother, suggest that the gunman was not angry about Pantera's breakup or a belief that Pantera had "stolen songs;" instead, the documents suggest that Gale'sparanoid schizophrenia caused delusions that the band could read his mind, and that they were "stealing" his thoughts and laughing at him.
Abbott's grave is located at the Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Texas. He is buried alongside his mother. He was buried with Eddie Van Halen's black and yellow-striped Charvel electric guitar (sometimes referred to as "Bumblebee"), which was pictured with Van Halen on the cover of the album Van Halen II. Dimebag had asked for one of these guitars in 2004, shortly before he was shot. Edward Van Halen originally agreed to make Darrell a copy of the guitar, but upon hearing of Abbott's death, offered to place the actual guitar in his casket. Dimebag was buried in a KISS Kasket. Inspired by the rock 'n' roll group KISS, he requested in his will that he be buried in one of the famous coffins. Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons said, "There were a limited number made and I sent mine to the family of 'Dimebag' Darrell. He requested in his will to be buried in a Kiss Kasket, as he sort of learned his rock 'n' roll roots by listening to us for some strange reason."