The night the metal world stood still, and a legend's return to Columbus, Ohio
By: Rich "Casper" Klein
COLUMBUS, OHIO - On the night of Dec. 8, 2004, the metal world was rocked to its core leaving Pantera fans around the world with a hole in their hearts and one question that they will never receive a justifiable answer, “Why?”
While performing with newly formed group Damageplan, Dimebag Darrell Abbott was shot and killed on stage at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. Among the barrage of bullets three others were fatally shot and killed in an attempt to stop the gunman and resuscitate Abbott. A Dimebag fan, Nathan Bray, 23, Alrosa Villa security guard Erin “Stoney” Halk, 29, and Damageplan head of security Jeff “Mayhem” Thompson, 40, were the unfortunate victims and unsung heroes by whose actions allowed the escape of many of the bar’s patrons.
Officer James Niggemeyer of the Columbus Police Department was the first to arrive on the scene. With his sidearm and shotgun he entered the venue without backup to see the gunman Nathan Gale, 25 with a hostage in one arm shooting into the crowd with the other, taking aim with one shot Niggemeyer safely disabled Gale and the hostage was unharmed. It is said that Gale was a crazed fan, furious that Pantera broke up and even more enraged that Dimebag (Darrell Lance Abbott) and brother Vinnie Paul created Damageplan. Almost 12 years, later, Vinnie Paul finally returned to the city Dimebag was murdered.
Abbott was a guitarist and songwriter best remembered for being a founding member of two bands, Pantera and Damageplan. He is renowned worldwide among his fans as a force to be reckoned with as one of the ‘GODS’ of metal and guitar. Ranking 92 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Greatest Guitarists and No. 1 in the UK magazine Metal Hammer. Abbott was not only well respected for his musical talent but he was loved dearly by his family and close friends. At an event honoring Abbott on the 10th anniversary of his death friends celebrated his life. Gathering to remember their personal encounters with a close friend, and discussing memories with Billboard in one on one interviews.
“He was like Blutarsky in Animal House you could just be having the most crap day, and then Dime would walk into the room and the party would begin! [Laughing]. He was like the Rat Pack all in one guy. He was Dean Frank Sammy, the whole Rat Pack in one human being!” said Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society and former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne.
Rob Halford, the front man for Judas Priest had this to say “ I would put Dimebag in the same territory as Hendrix Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen all the Legendary guitarists that we think about when we think about rock and metal”.
But to Paul, Abbott was a brother, a band mate, and a close friend who shared a bond that was apparent, not only in their work ethic but in the music they created as the result. To lose a brother is tragic in itself, to witness his murder and have that same man try to take your life in the same moment is unfathomable. Paul’s courageous and relentless drive to continue to perform and create music in the wake of this tragedy is to say the least amazing and inspiring ,with his latest successful group Hellyeah. Continuing the dream he and his brother shared, moving forward in the journey they embarked on together years ago is a testament to his strength and the size of his heart. Up until this year at the 2016 Rock On The Range, Paul has not played a show in Columbus since that fatal night in 2004. It’s more than a significant milestone, it is the turning of a page ,a mending of the spirit in ways. It seems that Paul has found some peace more than 11 years after the death of his brother.
In a chat with WWE star Chris Jericho for the “Talk Is Jericho” Paul reflected on Abbott’s love for people. “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, or just saying hi. That was the most important thing in his life-making other people smile," said Paul.
He added,” 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 this plane crash together. It was always ,’we’re gonna do this together because we did everything together. And we didn’t get to do it 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 [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.”
In a recent interview with Tina Smash and Big Ric of “ Big Smash Radio, Paul said, "It’s taken me a long time to really get in the right head space to where I feel like it was time to do it and it wasn’t anything specific- we’ve been offered to do it [Rock on the Range] just about every year since Hellyeah has been together. And this year, it just kind of hit me, I said ‘you know what? I think it’s time for the people there to hear what we do and to go back and just do my thing and show a little love to my brother,’I know the crowd’s gonna be chanting ‘DIMEBAG.' It’s gonna be huge, so it’s gonna be awesome”.
Huge it was, it was a sold out weekend with 120,000 people in attendance to witness a Legend's return to the city where he witnessed the murder of his brother. Paul is a prime example of perseverance in the face of adversity. In this, a valuable lesson. We will never forget the pain of losing a loved one, but we can never lose the dreams and visions of the ones we love in the pain.
Pantera- Cemetery Gates: https://youtu.be/RVMvART9kb8
Damageplan- save me: https://youtu.be/NXlP1ds2l5c
Waking Tera- Miss Demise: https://youtu.be/1zn2CnPxj5U
Killing The Catalyst- Skirmish: https://youtu.be/Ar-LNu4KDM4
Waiting for the Hatebreed, Devildriver and Devil You Know concert to begin, Rich of Blacksheep Review (left) was hanging out with Howard Jones (right) formerly of Killswitch Engage now front man for Devil You Know this past week at Hooligans in Jacksonville, N.C.
Cootchill Nelson of The Ingredients Project had an opportunity to attend the Gabrielle Musicaro video release event of her latest single, FUEGO featuring French Montana. The evening in midtown Manhattan at Madison Square Tavern. The event welcomed Musicaro's family, friends, as well as a mix of music industry insiders. Musicaro also performed a selection of songs acapella, including FUEGO.
Photo Credit: Cootchill Nelson
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