ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian has posted the following message on the band's official web site (as part of his regular online column, dubbed "Alpha Mail"):


"Hey Baldini, get your boy over here a double!'

"That's a line I must have heard a thousand times from Dimebag over the years. 'Baldini' was his name for me. 'Dino Baldini' when he was being polite. He also called me 'The Action Figure' and 'The Jew' (that being said with the utmost affection).

"There were so many times over the past few days in Dallas when I expected to turn around and see him standing there with that 'cat that ate the canary' grin of his, as if somehow he had just pulled the biggest prank in the world by gathering all of us together at his funeral under such insane false pretenses.

"His presence, even in death, is larger than life.

"Dime was everywhere. In every hug, in every kiss, in every shared story, in every tear shed by his family and friends, in every laugh talking about his adventures.

"Yes, adventures. Dime was the Indiana Jones of metal, always looking for the Holy Grail of pranks. He was all of the guys on 'Jackass' combined; years before there was a TV show. Anyone that has seen the PANTERA home videos knows what I am talking about. Dime did it first and without a huge corporation and a team of lawyers to take care of the mess afterwards.

"Dime was an original, through and through. Always kicking the door open in every aspect of his life. There were no walls that could contain his creativity and his life was proof of that.

"Everything he did was done with a passion that was stronger than the Hulk. (He did have a 'Hulk Blood' tattoo.)

"In Dime's world anything could happen. And it did.

"No idea was too crazy, no idea too big.

"A few years back I was over at his house and he was so proud of the smoke machine and disco ball he had installed in his living room so it would be like a KISS live show every night. All he needed were some big flames and it was done. (Not painted, actual fire in his living room.)

"When you walked into Dime's world you just had to let go of reality and I quote the man himself, 'Blow it up!'

"Charlie [Benante] told a great story about being at the house and seeing a goat with a pink beard walk past him. He did a double take and asked Dime why there was a goat walking around. Dime told him that somebody left it at his house so naturally he had to dye its beard a matching pink.

"It was this sense of the surreal; the feeling that you were living inside a comic book when you were with him that was so wonderful. He was an amusement park funhouse unto himself, if that funhouse was filled with the heaviest, fattest, grooviest, sickest riffs and mind-bending leads ever heard.

"Dime transcended guitar playing.

"Like Eddie Van Halen before him, he took the guitar and reinvented it for a whole new generation. He single-handedly kept lead guitar playing alive all through the nineties when for some reason it became trendy to do away with lead breaks. How did that happen? A reaction maybe to the overblown clichιd ten-minute guitar solos of the seventies and eighties or maybe because the players had nothing to say with their leads, or just couldn't play in the first place. Dime and I did an interview together for a guitar magazine and they asked us about seven string guitars and Dime said, 'Learn how to play more than a one-fingered riff on six first.'

"A ten-minute guitar solo by Dime was not only welcomed live, it was a highlight of the show.

"Dime was the complete package as a guitarist. He always knew that the rhythm and the riff were first. You can't just be a shredder and have nothing else to say. His rhythm playing was second to none and his riff writing and sense of melody took PANTERA to the top of the metal world.

"Dime's guitar playing has influenced every Metal band of the last ten years. That is a testament to his talent and power as an artist.

"I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Dime over the years. My experiences with him will never dull or fade. Those memories are in the vault, always safe, always accessible, to put a smile on my face. Dime had an uncanny ability to make you feel better just by being around him and his legacy will keep that spirit alive forever.

"Celebrate this man's life. Raise a glass and 'Watch it go!!'

"It's the only way he would've wanted it to be.

"I love you brother."

MACHINE HEAD frontman Robert Flynn has posted the following message in the "Forum" section of the band's official web site:

"I still can't believe it.

"To say that MACHINE HEAD were devastated... there aren't even words. We found out about this unbelievable event while in Zagreb, Serbia [sic]. The sports arena we were playing had no phone lines, no Internet, virtually zero cell reception, no TV, no heat. We had nothing but patchy info for the next few days as we played more shows in Eastern Europe, and frustration started to boil. It was impossible to call anyone, check e-mail, anything. It's only now that I've finally been able to sit down and read everything surrounding what happened.

"That night, we dedicated 'Descend The Shades Of Night' to Dimebag, a man who inspired us in so many ways. I lost it on stage. We all lost it on stage. It's horrible. Things like this just don't happen. Musicians don't get KILLED on stage... while they're PLAYING... what the fuck? What the fuck is wrong with people?

"Dimebag was one in a million. He was the Randy Rhoads, the Jimi Hendrix of our time. I'm not gonna try and make it look like Dime and I were best buddies, we weren't... but I would certainly call him a friend.

"I met Dimebag for the first time on Ozzfest in '97. He invited Logan and I into their dressing room, and I remember being so fuckin' stoked to be hanging out in the PANTERA dressing room, like I had made it into some cool guy club. I loved PANTERA, and tried my hardest to mask my excitement... I didn't do a very good job, 'cause Darrell kept coming up to me and saying 'Damn dude, you look like you're doin' alright!', and all I could muster in the moment was '...Yeah'. He offered me a gazillion shots of whiskey that day, and over the next couple of months we hung out... not a lot, as I tried not to be a fan boy, but I couldn't help it, they were fucking amazing.

"Eventually they asked us to support them on their headline run for 'Trendkill'. It was here that we learned that it was okay to treat your support bands like equals — something we continue to practice to this day.

"That tour was one of the funnest, craziest, greatest goddamned tours we have ever done, and none of us have, or will ever forget the opportunity, nor the experience. Like it was yesterday, I remember one night, Dimebag got wasted (as he sometimes did)... but I mean, WASTED! ...and during COAL CHAMBER's set, he grabs my backup guitar, goes out on stage and starts 'air guitaring' with them during one of their songs. COAL CHAMBER looked around nervously and just kinda went with it... he then proceeded to smash my guitar down on the stage, completely shattering the neck. I thought to myself, 'uh... okay, we're sorta on next... what do I do?' Then I figured, 'Eh, fuck it, I'll worry about it tomorrow.'

"After our set, we go out to watch PANTERA. And let me just say, that to watch this man, who literally could not talk backstage, thinking all the while, 'Oh my GOD, this is gonna be a train wreck'... we all just stood there with our jaws on the floor as that motherfucker went out and played a perfectly fucking FLAWLESS show. Every rhythm, every lead... just NAILED it. It was in-fucking-human.

"So the next day I go up to him and say 'Hey man, do you remember what you did to my guitar last night?" He's like 'Uh... refresh my memory'... so I say, 'You... uh... smashed the neck in half'... to which he says 'No shit dude?! I'll take care of you, no problem, don't worry!' He then had his tour manager give us TWICE as much money as it would cost to replace / repair the neck. And then a week later, while we're ON STAGE in Chicago, he comes out, and brings both Logan and I brand new, top-of-the-line Dimebag Darrell signature guitars — these things were worth probably 2500 dollars each — and he whispers in my ear, 'Sorry about the neck, Carjacker' (a nickname he had for me)... I mean, COME ON!?

"The next time we saw him, he played us some 'just finished' mixes for the then-unreleased 'Reinventing The Steel' record at he and Vinnie's club. We were all worshipping. We drank shitloads, and he even rocked on the vodka with us, rather than the whiskey, just 'cause he remembered that the HEAD like vodka. A week later I get a package at our hotel in Pittsburg... he had sent 4 one-liter bottles of expensive-ass Ketel One vodka, all the way from Texas, with a note that read 'Carjacker, it was killer hanging out with you the other night. Remember, it's Goddamn Electric! — Your brother Dime.' That's the type of guy he was, such a giving person. 200 bucks worth of vodka? Bah, no problem.

"The last time I saw him was at Download / Donington this year. He told me he was 'blown away' by our new record. 'Record of the year,' he kept saying. To hear him say that really meant a lot. I mean it REALLY meant a lot. To be honest, and this is just a hunch, but I think it was the first record of ours that he really liked. My impression was always that he thought our other records were... good.

"So he's backstage warming up on my Black V after his guitar was rushed onstage, and he promises to send me more vodka for letting him 'warm up'... to which I reply 'Dude, don't even think about it.'

"Right after Download I got to thinking about he and Vinnie, and I ended up faxing him a letter to wish him well with DAMAGEPLAN, remind him that he'd better not be thinking about sending me bottles of vodka, and to tell him how much of an influence PANTERA was on me / us, and in particular, his playing, his guitar tone, the lyrics about unity — everything — had been on MACHINE HEAD, especially early on. It was something I'd always wanted to say to him, and even though we had toured with them, twice even... for some reason I always clammed up, or got insecure about saying it when I was around him.

"Right before we went out on this last tour, he calls me up around midnight, I'm driving home at the time and happen to be awake. He tells me he has someone who wants to talk to me, so I say 'Oh, yeah?', and he puts me on the phone with this HUGE MACHINE HEAD fan... apparently the kid had walked into this Mexican restaurant, ran into Darrell, and during their conversation they both got to talking about how much they loved 'Through The Ashes...', and the kid says to Darrell, 'Robert Flynn's my idol, I'd do anything to meet him.' So Dime whips out his phone and says, 'Let's call him!' So there I am, talking to this kid for like 15 minutes, mostly about how much we both love PANTERA... soon afterward he puts Dimebag back on, and we talk for another half hour or so, mostly about the aforementioned letter.

"He told me that he was genuinely moved by it.

"In retrospect, I'm really glad I that I finally got to say those things to him.

"He had more of an effect on the four of us than he could possibly imagine.

"Some people consider it 'un-metal' to be a giving person, but I tell you what, that guy right there was one of the most giving people that you could ever meet, and he was as metal as it fuckin' gets.

"To Nathan Bray, the courageous fan who jumped on stage to perform CPR on Darrell and died trying to save his life... you are a true hero, and your death is no less significant than Dime's, nor were the lives of Erin 'Stoney' Halk or Jeffrey 'Mayhem' Thompson.

"To James Niggemeyer, the policeman that shot and killed that twisted freak that had the gall to call himself a 'fan', I commend you. You deserve a medal of honor.

"To Blabbermouth.net, and the people that post there, you have all never stood taller in my eyes. The wealth of information that has been brought forward by the editor, and the class with which it has been presented, is truly unprecedented. In addition, the level of respect and empathy shown to each other — and especially to the mother of Nathan Bray, who wrote that heart-wrenching letter — was sincerely admirable.

"To the politicians who are claiming that this is what heavy metal breeds, you don't know what the hell you're even talking about.

"And lastly, to the hatemongering son-of-a-bitch named William Grim, from conservative website The Iconoclast, who wrote the most disgraceful, classless article I've ever read entitled 'AESTHETICS OF HATE: R.I.P. DIMEBAG ABBOTT, & GOOD RIDDANCE'…

"You WILL burn in hell!

"What would YOU know about love or values? What would YOU know about giving to the world? All that you know is teaching prejudice, and your heart is as black as the 'ignorant, filthy, and hideously ugly, heavy metal fans' you try and paint in your twisted, fictitious ramblings. It's because of people like YOU, that there are Nathan Gales in this world, NOT the Dimebags and metal musicians who work to unite people through music.

"You just don't get it.

"You say, 'Americans should aspire to greatness.' Well, Dimebag was an American that did more than 'aspire' to greatness. He was an American that 'achieved' it. And you will NEVER know what it is to taste greatness William Grim. Because in order to achieve greatness, you must first believe in the greatness of people, no matter how 'ugly' or 'fat' or 'stupid' they are, on the outside... and Dimebag did just that.

"Long live Dimebag Darrell in the hearts of us all."

OZZY OSBOURNE/PRIDE & GLORY drummer Brian Tichy has issued the following statement in memory of DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott:

"To Vinnie, DAMAGEPLAN, PANTERA and all of Dime's friends and family.... I am so shocked by this. I feel so sorry for Vinnie and all of Dime's friends. Without a doubt, Dime was one of the baddest rock guitarists to ever walk the planet and one of the funniest people I've ever hung with. Rooms of people would gravitate around him and he's not even trying. Dime LIVED more than just about anyone I know. Don't bother trying to keep up with him. Undeniable non-stop creativity... He was somebody I totally RESPECTED, LOOKED UP TO AND ENVIED. You couldn't deny his power, presence and charisma. He lived a lifestyle that revolved solely around his guitar, his music and the eternal party, not letting anything get in the way of having the best time possible. He really was larger than life. Watch the PANTERA home videos!

"Dime has been stealing the show ever since he unleashed the 'Cowboys From Hell' riff back in '90. He and PANTERA were laying down some new rules then! You can hear his influence in just about every band with heavy guitars!

"At least Dime left so much incredibly powerful music to listen to in his memory...

"PANTERA has been my favorite metal band since 'Vulgar' came out. I've ran many miles listening to that and 'Far Beyond Driven'.

"PANTERA was on the 2000 Ozzfest when I was playing drums for Ozzy. I was psyched to be playing for Ozzy, but I was also psyched to be on tour with PANTERA. It was a daily ritual to warm up for the Ozzy show while watching Dime, Vinnie, Philip and Rex crush every night.

"While I was on the side of the stage and they were playing 'Walk', Dime was singing the backups in the chorus, screaming out 'Tichy' instead of 'Re' or 'spect'. Too funny.

"I took Dime and Vinnie's bus from one city to the next one night and of course that was my biggest hangover of the year. We all ended up screaming to METALLICA's 'Kill 'Em All' and I woke up hours later passed out on the front lounge floor.

"I feel privileged to have been able to be around Dime and experience his energy up close. I can't believe there will never be a time when the world doesn't get to watch him play. Bottom line is he was a genuine badass.

"Anybody can shoot a gun but barely anybody can touch what Dime did in 38 years. It sucks to have to accept when a useless lunatic decides to do something so heinous, innocent people have no control over the self-centered retarded insanity...


ANTHRAX/SEBASTIAN BACH guitarist Paul Crook remembers DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott:

"This happened somewhere in North America while I was helping Dimebag out on the BLACK SABBATH/PANTERA tour. I actually roadied for him while I was still playing with ANTHRAX. Grady (his tech) had to rush home because his wife was giving birth to their son. They needed a guy fast. He knew I had a real good understanding of Dime's rig (intricate setup). I used to play through it a lot while ANTHRAX toured with PANTERA a few years back. Plus, I knew how to work the Whammy pedal during 'Becoming'. They called me. I got my shirt real dirty. I felt very honored to load-in and set-up Dime's gear every day. I remember some people actually laughing at me because they knew I was playing lead guitar for a famous band but I didn't care. I loved Dimebag, he needed my help. Plus, I enjoyed being around all the other PANTERA guys. Band and crew alike. They were a class act.

"Anyway, we (myself, Tongs and Dime) were hanging out in a hallway of a hotel. Why were we in the hallway? I don't know... There was a bottle of Crown Royal as well (what else is new). Somehow we got on the subject of life in the music biz. We started talking about money. I'll never forget this. Dime says: '... I just hope I have enough money to get a new liver when this is all over...' "

SHADOWS FALL drummer Jason Bittner has issued the following report from the funeral services and public memorial for slain DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, which were held on Tuesday (Dec. 14) in Arlington, Texas:

"I have just gotten to my computer today after returning home from Dimebag Darrell Abbott's funeral and I wanted to share what happened there with you all... Some of you were there, but a lot of you weren't so I will try to not paint a morbid picture.

Tuesday, December 14:

6:30 a.m.: I board what appears to be a tuna can with propellers that I pray is going to safely get me to Baltimore

9:30 a.m.: Safely in Baltimore, I board my plane for Dallas.

12:30 p.m.: Arrive in Dallas and then grab cab to the Wyndam Arlington where I will be staying.

1:00 p.m.: Grab my room key, quickly bump into my good friend Charlie Benante who looks like everyone else I'm going to see for the next 12 hours...tired, pale, and bummed. Next I see Shaun from SOIL, who informs me I can cram in their van to go to the services (cool).

1:20 p.m.: Shower and go bother metal's whitest black man Willie Gee (currently MEGADETH's guitar tech) ... who always seems to make me laugh.

2:30 p.m.: Me, Willie, Big Roger and everyone in SOIL head to the funeral home... It is here where anyone and everyone is here to pay their respects and (unfortunately under the circumstances) and say 'Hello.' Everyone's here... DISTURBED, STATIC-X, some of the SLIPKNOT guys (whom after taking with Corey are VERY excited about our upcoming tour, so that rules). TYPE O NEGATIVE guys, Rex [Brown], Pepper Keenan, KITTIE, my buddy Dino (ex-FEAR FACTORY), ALICE IN CHAINS guys... The list is extensive. We finally head into the chapel to the strains of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY being played over the PA system, to find a HEAVILY flowered mass area, with Dime quietly laid out in his KISS coffin!!! Rockin'! As we all try to keep our composure, the services start with Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez from ALICE IN CHAINS, who come out to play some acoustic ALICE IN CHAINS tunes with another guitar player (whom I didn't know), and Pat from DAMAGEPLAN singing as well... Very beautiful, not a dry eye in the house!! Next was Zakk's speech where he told a very funny story about him and Dime drinking over four bottles of Crown (oh, my liver hurts just thinking about it) one day on Ozzfest, and then the two of them waking up in Zakk's bunk together spooning!!!! Hey, Zakk said it, not me! Next was Charlie Benante's very moving speech, he told some funny stories and just wanted everyone to remember what a great, funny dude Dime was... Lastly was no other than Eddie Van Halen... who had given Rita (Dime's wife, pretty much) his actual old black/yellow Charvel for Dime to be buried with. It was pretty surreal!! So after the service ended, they asked if anyone wanted to view Dime one last time, to do so in an orderly fashion. Since i hadn't been able to make the wake, I wanted to go... so I grabbed Willie and Bo (who was THE HAUNTED's tour manger on this last tour) to go up with me. I was not prepared for what I was about to see. Dime looked fine, but what I then quickly noticed in the corner of his KISS casket was a small autographed splash cymbal that was put in the coffin 2 days prior... it was mine. I had given this to Dime a day before our tour ended as a memento, because he intially asked me for a pair of my sticks, so I went one better. Needless to say, I lost it... I started crying immediately (and I am right now just thinking about it) and tried to quickly walk away but Vinnie called out to me and came over to console me as best as he could, I saw Pat real quick and gave him a hug, but I had to get out. I only knew this man closely for 5 1/2 weeks, but it felt like a lot more than that.

"Outside I ran into Rat, who was one of DAMAGEPLAN's tech's on this last tour, we exchanged hugs and words, but it was nice to see he was still here. Right as we were about to leave I saw our buddy BEST DUDE... otherwise known as 'The Kat', Vinnie's tech. To those who dont know, Kat was shot a few times on that unfortunate night, be looked great in his suit (yeah, imagine that) and he had a drink in his hand and was in good spirits.

5:30 p.m.: Back in the van, first stop, yup you guessed it, THE LIQUOR STORE... Let the buzz begin. We then went to a great seafood restaurant and had a party of about 25 people, shots all over the place, (EVEN WILLIE GEE DRANK 2 SHOTS!) good food, good times and David from DISTURBED paid for all of us! When I thanked him, he said 'It's what Dime woulda done!' 'I got plastic that goes for miles!!' – Dime. Anyways it was nice.

9:00 p.m.: Public memorial service at the Arlington Convention Center, what an event… The highlight was watching Eddie Van Halen taking the mike away from Zakk every time Zakk tried to finish his speech... I couldn't help but think what he might have done if it wasn't one of his heroes!!! Anyways, we had a good time remembering Dime for all the good stuff, and we shed more tears as well.

12:30 a.m. or so we got kicked out of the Convention Center, I do a quick interview with Denise and Juliya for 'Uranium', and then we go back to the hotel bar. By this point I had been paling around with my new comedian buddies Don Jamieson and Jim Flourentine the 'Terrorizing Telemarketers' guys, and some of you may know Jim as 'Bobby Fletcher' and 'Special Ed' from Crank Yankers. Two great dudes, who are big metalheads that brought some laughs at a needed time.

1:30 a.m.: Last call, I cram in a car with Don, Jim, and one of their friends to finish the party out over at Vinnie's house. We arrive, Rita shows us to the bar, and I commence to go talk drum shit with Mike from DROWNING POOL and my good bud Charlie Benante (yes, there IS going to be a reunion tour w/ Joey — shhhh). Jim had to get to the airport so we stayed 'till about 5 or so... but before leaving I talked with Rita (who seems to be doing really well right now) for awhile about the fact that Dime really liked our band, and really had a great time (Vinnie told me the same) on what turned out to be this final run, I told her I was flattered about the cymbal, and she said 'It meant a lot to him' — still in shock over that!! She also said the 'he adored Jon' so that was really nice too!

5:30 a.m.: Drop Jim off at airport and conemplate calling my wife with a 'Special Ed' prank phone call, but we didn't have time. Next time.

6:00 a.m.: Don drops me off at the hotel, I pop in Shaun from SOIL's room for one last beer with him, Dino and Tony from STATIC-X.

10:30 a.m.: Willie frantically knocks on my door 'C'mon Sarge you overslept!')

11:00 a.m.: At the airport with a killer hangover... Worth it for 'The Idol'

"So as I said, if you got this email, there's a reason... Go buy a bottle of Crown Royal, pour a double for you, and one for Dime and knock it back....'GETCHA PULL!!' and light a candle at Xmas for his memory, he's in a better place, and he will be missed.

"I know I miss him."

ANTHRAX/SEBASTIAN BACH guitarist Paul Crook attended the public memorial service for slain DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott on Tuesday night (Dec. 14) in Arlington, Texas.

Regarding the service, Crook said, "[Tuesday] night was both incredibly sad and beautiful. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at times. Zakk [Wylde] and Edward [Van Halen] had me in hysterics while Vinnie [Abbott] and Rex [Brown] had me sobbing. The video that was put together was great. It showed Dime in 1988 tearing up Randy Rhoads and METALLICA licks. There was so much love in that room, so much metal."

Crook also forwarded to BLABBERMOUTH.NET his thoughts on Dimebag's tragic loss.

"It started with severe crying," Crook said. "My head was pounding from all of the congestion and tears. After that came confusion. Then ANGER!!! WHY?! MY FRIEND, MY HERO, A MAN THAT YOU COULDN'T HELP BUT BE DRAWN TO BY HIS LOVING, KIND, GRACIOUS, HYSTERICAL NATURE. THE BEST METAL GUITARIST I HAVE EVER HEARD WITH A SOUND AS BIG AS HIS HEART HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY FROM ME, FROM ALL OF US!!!

"Vinnie and Rita, I am so deeply saddened for you. I just keep thinking that Dimebag is in heaven eating mom's pea salad.

"DIMEBAG!!!!!!!!! You played your guitar to the last second of your amazing, beautiful life. I LOVE YOU!!!

"Paul 'Dr. Kevorkian' Crook

"P.S.: Dimebag gave me that nickname in '98."

Former BROKEN HOPE and current LUPARA guitarist Jeremy Wagner has issued the following statement in memory of late DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott:

"I first met Dimebag at Ozzfest 1997 at Alpine Valley Music Theater (East Troy, Wisconsin). I had stumbled into Phil Anselmo's backstage trailer with Kenny Hickey from TYPE O NEGATIVE and soon found myself among members of PANTERA, MARILYN MANSON, MACHINE HEAD, and others. I headed toward the restroom to piss, but found that the bathroom in the trailer was not exactly 'safe' as Dimebag Darrell had fed about 100 feet of water hose through a window and had a lawn-sprinkler going on full-blast in the bathroom, thus turning it into a waterpark. Dimebag stood next to the bathroom door, grinning and daring me to go in. I declined, and turned to find another restroom. But before I could leave, Dimebag grabbed me and said something like, 'You busy? No? Good, gimme a hand.'

"Dimebag slapped a stack of red plastic-cups in my hands and instructed me to line them up in a row on a deli table. Once I had about a dozen cups lined up, Dimebag took out a bottle of Crown Royal and proceeded to pour it back and forth over the cups until the bottle was empty. Dimebag handed me a cup, we toasted, and after sucking down the Crown, Dime distributed his 'Dimebag Cocktails' to all the guests in the trailer.

"I have the moment caught in an attached photograph from my old camera. From left to right is: Johnny Kelly (TYPE O NEGATIVE), Logan Mader (ex-MACHINE HEAD), myself (barely visible behind Dimebag's hair), and of course Dimebag Darrell. *Note the red cups in Johnny and Logan's hands — cocktails compliments of Dimebag — as well as the door to the 'raining' bathroom behind.

"I had always heard that Dimebag created 'Happy Hour' everywhere he went. It's true. I've seen PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN many times since that memorable and drunken day at Ozzfest, but I'll never forget that Ozzfest when I met a true legend/guitar-god: Dimebag Darrell. Those of us who ever saw him play or anyone who met him are truly blessed. Dimebag Darrell was the Ronnie Van Zant of the modern, metal generation. My friends, bandmates, and myself extend our deepest sympathies to Vinnie, the Abbott family, and to all the other people hurt and killed in this unthinkable, and absolutely senseless act. Rest in peace, Dimebag Darrell. We ALL love you, miss you and we will NEVER forget you!!"

VAN HALEN bassist Michael Anthony has posted the following message on his official web site:

"We were very saddened and angered to hear of the shooting that took place in Columbus, OH last week that took the life of a friend and fellow musician, Dimebag Darrell Abbott.

"It was only a few weeks ago that Dime and Vinnie Paul joined us backstage to do some Jack shots while we were in Wichita, KS on the last leg of the VH summer tour.

"It flat-out sucks that something like this could happen to someone who just wanted to get up on stage and play guitar.

"Our sincerest condolences to Dime's wife Rita, his brother Vinnie and all of the Abbott family. Darrell will be missed."

Jennifer Wray of Columbus, Ohio's Suburban News Publications reports:

Guitarist Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott told Kevin McMeans that a photograph of the two of them taken last Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 8) "would be a classic."

McMeans said Abbott, who normally dressed casually, was referring to his outfit — which last Wednesday afternoon included a leopard-print jacket.

But the comment took on another meaning in the wake of Abbott's shooting death that night. Abbott and four other people were shot to death in the Alrosa Villa that night.

McMeans, a 26-year-old Hilliard resident, is an avid collector of musicians' photographs and autographs. Dimebag and his brother, Vinnie Paul Abbott, also of DAMAGEPLAN, were the only members of PANTERA he had yet to snag a picture of.

So, within minutes of his last college final ending Wednesday afternoon, McMeans arrived at the Alrosa Villa, 5055 Sinclair Road.

After chatting with a guitar tech for more than an hour, he found success. Dimebag was friendly and meeting the Abbott brothers left him "starstruck," McMeans said.

Similarly, Adam Vanover, 25, of Bellefontaine, came to the Alrosa hoping to hear his rock hero perform and to get an autograph from Dimebag.

Band members told him to go to the tour bus after the show to get his guitar signed. Instead, he spent part of the evening with friend Nathan Heiberger, 27, of Bellefontaine and about 15 other people huddled behind a pillar in the club's VIP section.

They were 20 feet away from the stage where Marysville resident Nathan Gale, 25, took aim at the crowd after shooting Dimebag.

"There were shots going everywhere...( Gale) just flipped out," Heiberger said.

"All I could hear was feedback and gunfire — I thought it was fake," Vanover said.

"When the police came, I realized, 'This ain't no joke.'"

Hilliard resident Jeff Greene, 19, is a member of TWELVE GAUGE, one of the evening's opening bands,. He said he was thrilled to play with a longtime idol.

He said he, too, first thought the shooting was a prank, a part of DAMAGEPLAN's act. When Greene realized otherwise, he said, he rushed the stage.

Greene said Gale asked him to find his glasses, using his 9-millimeter gun to gesture downward. When he stepped back to look for the glasses, Greene said, Gale shot his gun, nearly grazing him with the bullet.

"I said, 'What are you doing? I'm trying to help you,'" Greene said.

Shortly afterward, he said, Columbus patrol officer James Niggemeyer shot Gale, who by that time was holding a hostage at the rear of the stage.

In the aftermath, Greene and an officer tried to help Dimebag, who "kept squeezing my hand," Greene said.

He said it wasn't until he later stepped out into the parking lot that he realized his hands were covered in Dimebag's blood.

Hilliard resident Eric Sanders, 24, said once he heard media reports describing Gale, he realized he saw him in the Alrosa's parking lot before the concert.

"He just looked like somebody who was there for the show," he said.

A photo gallery showing the above-mentioned picture, the Alrosa Villa club and the vigil in Dimebag's honor can be viewed at this location.

It's nearly 6 p.m. outside the Clubhouse -- Dallas' premier all-nude strip joint -- and just in time for their nightly broadcast, two newscasters face the cameras: "Tonight a community gathers outside a local club to mourn the loss of metal legend 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott ..."

It's an odd solemnity for a character known for songs such as "Slaughtered" and "Fucking Hostile." That isn't lost on fans at the memorial, who drop to their knees in front of his photo, take off their caps, and shoot him the finger. That part isn't on the news.

A makeshift memorial is growing outside the club -- pictures of Dimebag, a spray of gladioli, a full liter bottle of Seagram's 7. Laid out across the ground is a concert banner for Damageplan, the band Dimebag and his older brother Vinnie Paul formed out of the ashes of Pantera. It's hard not to cringe at the tour's slogan: Devastation is on the way.

The night before, Wednesday, December 8, Dimebag was shot at least five times in the head onstage at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, in front of the audience, his bandmates, and his brother. Four others were murdered, including Jeff Thompson, aka Mayhem, a forty-year-old bodyguard for the band. Killed by a crazed fan whose delusional behavior reportedly included passing off Pantera lyrics as his own, Dimebag is already taking on a Selena-like mythos. This Sunday, a local artist will paint a Pantera mural on the side of Dallas' Universal Rehearsal studio. Cars around town sport shoe-polish tributes on their windows: "We'll miss you, Dimebag."

The crowd at the memorial looks exactly as you would expect: Baggy jeans and black hoodies, concert T-shirts and shoulder slumps. In the song "25 Years," from Pantera's best-selling 1994 album Far Beyond Driven, singer Phil Anselmo referred to his fans as the thousands of the ugly, the criticized, the unwanted. There isn't a cheerleader or a spirit-squad member among them. For them, Pantera's chugging guitar and hateful lyrics were like a scream of consciousness. And Dimebag was the heart of it all, the innovator, taking classic metal riffs and pulverizing them into a straight shot of hundred-proof adolescent id.

"Dimebag is my god," one kid tells me. He's seventeen with shaggy hair. "That's why I play the guitar. He's the only one who inspired me. When I found out he died, I was like, 'Shit.'"

The kid formed a band with his cousin, who saunters up beside us and lights a cigarette. "Man, when I found out Dimebag died," he says, "I thought it was a joke. I couldn't believe it."

"Why was he so important to you?"

He shrugs. "'Cause he's the shit."

"I want to tell you a story about Dimebag," says an older man, swaying slightly and holding a bottle of tequila. "I partied with Dimebag. I bought him a shot of Jδgermeister. That was his favorite."

As the guy tells the story, he hands off the bottle to a teen girl, who pours a shot into her bottle of Tropicana fruit juice. "We got wasted, although that's the last shot I bought that night," he continues. "We partied all night long. He was a good guy. A good, good guy."

Everyone has a story like this about Dimebag. They talk about how nice he was, how tender underneath the studded persona. It's comforting to think he remained like them, because he was once exactly like them.

Long before he became part of one of the most influential metal bands of the '90s, Dimebag Darrell was just another kid from Arlington, Texas, who wanted to kick the world in the nuts. With his brother, Vinnie Paul, he played in a Krokus cover band and dreamed of making it big. When he finally did with Pantera, he didn't move to Los Angeles or New York. He stayed in the area and opened up a strip club that caters to just about every famous musician and athlete who comes through Dallas. One sign posted outside his home in the tony Dalworthington Gardens neighborhood called him "The people's rock star."

As a courtesy to fans, the Clubhouse has thrown open its doors tonight, dropping the typical $20 cover charge. Inside the cavernous club, girls on platforms stand entirely naked, save for Lucite heels and money clips. It's hard to dance to the thundering heavy metal soundtrack, so their moves involve more of a disinterested hip sway, a flick of the hair, an occasional smack on the ass. Onstage, however, is the real action, where a stripper takes the stage in costume and makes good on her job title. She looks for all the world like a twelve-year-old in pigtails and knee socks. A heavyset bald man stands expectantly at the foot of the stage, and she struts over to him and shakes her little tits in his face. Last February, when Damageplan released its first album, New Found Power, the band held a CD release party here. It was a good time in their lives, a fresh start. That week, I'd interviewed Vinnie Paul, and he was exactly as people had described him: gruff, foul-mouthed, and sweet as can be. "When Dime and I first sat down to start a band, we said, 'This'll be a lot harder than we think and we'll have to reach down inside and find a newfound power,'" he told me, describing the album's title. "But the name had to be more powerful than that. The only thing that came to my mind was that when they built the atomic bomb, they had one thing in mind, and that was a fucking damage plan."

Outside the club, the memorial is growing -- fifty people, then a hundred. Empty beer cans are starting to collect around the memorial, along with candles and pictures. One boy lifts his sleeve to show off the Dimebag tattoo on his shoulder, a flaming skull with a beard. One woman clutches her lit votive and a framed picture while tears stream down her cheeks. "It's from a 1994 Guitar Magazine," she tells me after she calms down. "It's a photocopy. I have the color one at home. I couldn't give that up. It's too precious." In the picture, Dimebag's hair is streaked across his sweaty forehead, face pointed skyward. His shirt says, "This isn't a beer belly, it's a gas tank for my love machine."

"That's kinda funny," I say.

She smiles through her tears. "That was Darrell."

It's getting chilly now, but they keep coming, hordes of them. Families and couples, some older people but mostly young. They pour in from all corners of the city carrying twelve-packs and whiskey bottles, smoking cigarettes and holding hands. At least they're in this thing together, just more fans kicking back at their sadness with some beer and strippers, remembering a life lived loud and fierce.

SEBASTIAN BACH: Remembering DIMEBAG DARRELL - Dec. 30, 2004 

Former SKID ROW frontman Sebastian Bach has issued the following statement in memory of DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott:

"My relationship to this sick series of events goes way back, some 18 years. I joined a band from Detroit called MADAM X back in 1986 and the very first place I ever played on the road, outside of Detroit, was the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio. This is my first memory of touring in America. I vividly remember staying at the Red Roof Inn down the street and then rocking the Alrosa . I was 17 at the time and was living my dream of touring the United States, and the Al Rosa Villa was the very first stage I ever set foot on being on the road in the USA.

"The very first time I ever heard of Dimebag Darrell was way back in late 1986 or early 1987. As the MADAM X tour progressed across America, we played in Ft. Worth Texas at a place called Savvy's, a club legendary for separating the of-age & not-of-age by a chain-link fence, just like in the BLUES BROTHERS. Yes, bottles were whipped and smashed into the fence nightly at this place. We were just about to go on stage when Godzilla, the bass player for MADAM X, ran back into the dressing room, seven foot tall with hair that literally touched the ceiling, as he screamed into the room, 'Dude guess what!!! Fucking PANTERA is here tonight watching the show!! They are all sitting at a table right in front of the stage, I can't fucking believe this!!!' The reason for his excitement was simple. Already, even with their previous lead singer, PANTERA was legendary on the club circuit in the southern states. Even then, almost 20 years ago, Dimebag's innovative guitar playing and showmanship was already the standard to which other guitar players were to be measured. They already had a sizable fan base and reputation as one of the best metal bands you could ever see on a stage. We were extremely excited and honored to jam for this bunch of highly respected musicians. Little did I know at the time what was in store in the future for myself, and the band PANTERA, and how our lives would intertwine in the years to come.

"The next time I encountered Dime was in my old guitar player Scotti Hill's house.We were writing the song 'Mudkicker' for our forthcoming record. At the time, we were in one of the biggest bands in the world. We had already begun to headline arenas on our own on our first record and we were planning our first USA headline arena tour at the time. The material we were writing for 'Slave to the Grind' was a lot heavier than our first album and we wanted to take out the heaviest, coolest band on the road that we could find. I remember Scotti pulling out 'Cowboys From Hell' at his house on a songwriting break. He said, 'Dude, check out this band, I really dig them,' and that's when I checked out the album sleeve, as he put it on the stereo. Loud. I immediately remembered the band from the MADAM X days, but I had never listened to them before.

"I couldn't believe my ears . As the opening guitar riff to 'Cowboys From Hell' came out of the speakers, I knew we had found the band we were looking for to come on tour with us. This was like a new kind of JUDAS PRIEST meets ZZ TOP meets VAN HALEN divided by SLAYER equals its own kind of thing. I remember cranking the album and smiling to myself, 'I cannot wait to help introduce this fucking band to North America!' I knew they were gonna blow up huge as soon as the public at large got a chance to feel their power.

"So we made the decision. SKID ROW was going to bring PANTERA on their first North American arena tour. I remember the first show like it was yesterday. It was New Years Eve '91/'92 in New Orleans, at this arena that was completely circular and I remember watching PANTERA kick ass for the first time that night. As a metalhead first and foremost myself, it was an absolute dream to stand on the side of the stage every night witnessing PANTERA's rise to fame, night after night, city after city. To have those crazy fuckers as my friends was something I will never forget. Everyone knows about the 'lust for life' that was a legendary part of Dimebag's life. Well, let me say that anyone who was there can attest to the fact that we set the fucking standard for 'living it up' on the SKID ROW / PANTERA tour. Tony Wiggins, the bus driver turned backstage legend of MARILYN MANSON fame and PANTERA lore, got his start in this business how? By being Sebastian Bach's personal driver. Tony was my bus driver on the 'Slave' tour and spent every night driving me across the USA, many times with Phil Anselmo, or my road crew, or other crazy freaks 'unwinding' with me on the way to the next city. To read about Tony's exploits in the MARILYN MANSON book makes me feel like a proud papa. Big Val Bichekas; PANTERA, ALICE IN CHAINS, and now Ozzy's personal security guard? The first job Big Val ever had in rock 'n' roll was — you guessed it — Sebastian Bach's personal security guard. Val met PANTERA on the 'Slave' tour and when Ozzy was looking for personal security, Sharon asked Big Val, 'Who have you done security for?' He answered, 'Sebastian Bach was my first. PANTERA was second.' Ozzy hired him right away, and has employed him ever since. I don't know why his resume says so much to others about his experience! Well, if you ever partied with Dimebag you would know why.

"The SKID ROW / PANTERA tour. So much to say, a lot that can't be remembered. But due to video tape a lot of these insane moments still exist on tape. Dimebag was pretty much always, or 90 percent of the time that I was with him, with a video camera in hand. Three nights ago I watched 'Vulgar Video' for the first time in over 10 years, and I was astonished to find the full version of both bands doing 'Cold Gin' on there, PANTERA in complete KISS garb. Wow. Also the PANTERA / SKID ROW baseball game — a direct example of Dimebag's hilarious prankster personality at work. What actually happened that day was SKID ROW completely destroyed PANTERA on the baseball field, by at least 20 runs, which wasn't hard because they were all sporting the Black Tooth Grin by early afternoon! Hey it was a day off! But when I played 'Vulgar Video' for the first time I remember holding my head in my hands, laughing, due to some major Dimebag digital editing magic!! The baseball segment on the video shows PANTERA kicking the shit out of SKID ROW, 33 - 8, saved for posterity on the shelf of your local Sam Goody's, for all time, all over the world. Unbelievable. Devious. Funny as shit. Some of the best times of our lives.

"Denver Colorado. Dimebag is running around the arena with his video camera, as usual. On the road now for a couple of months, my throat feels kind of tight and we have a 'rock doctor' in house to check out my pipes. Dimebag runs up to me in the hallway and screams 'DUUUUUUUUUUUDE, what the fuck, are you seeing the Dr. or what? What the fuck?' with his vidcam omnipresent. I tell him 'Yes, I am on my way up the hall to see the doc.' Dimebag: 'CAN I FILM IT?' Me laughing, 'Sure, dude, knock yerself out!' What a nut! So we get to the Dr., who sits me down on the table and gets his stethoscope and selection of mirrors out to stick down my throat. But as he goes to shove this long mirror thing down my neck, there is one thing in the way — Dimebag Darrell. 'DUDE, HOLY SHIT, MAN, YOU GOTS-TA SEE THIS!! I have your complete vocal cords, close-up, on video.' I am sitting there with my head tilted all the way back, mouth open as wide as it can go with a Dr. shoving a mirror into me on one side, with Dimebag Darrell shoving his camera down my throat on the other side. The Dr. says, 'OK, Sebastian say aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh,' and as I do so, Dime screams out, 'Dude, that shit is TIGHT!! I got your chords on close-up it looks fuckin' wild!' He was focusing his camera right on the mirror that the Dr. was using to look at my vocal chords. Every gag, choke, and cough that I did that day was captured by Dime on film. That was Dimebag. Taking a mundane event and turning it into something fun, worth rockumenting, making a cool little memory of something you would otherwise never remember. I have 'seize the day' tattooed on my arm in Latin. Dimebag Darrell seized every day like there was no tomorrow. No matter how hung over he was!

"Also on 'Vulgar Video' is the shot of PANTERA having a fucking bar-b-q, right in front of the stage while we were doing our show! My memory of that night, in Hannibal, Missouri (I think) was watching Dimebag on his side of the stage open the show. Right when they got to the ending of 'Domination', one of my favorite songs, as they go into that crushing half-time riff at the end, I remember banging my head as hard as I could but not looking around the backstage, and by mistake slamming my head straight into the side fill, as Dimebag ripped out that riff. I saw stars and felt a knot rise up on my skull the size of a bowling ball. I though I might have a concussion or something, but fuck it, we never canceled a show that whole tour and weren't gonna. So I chilled till we went on stage, kinda dizzy. Then as I was on-stage I look into the first row. Before that there was a good 15 feet of sand, we were playing an outdoor show on some sort of beach. In front of the barricade in the 'pit' was Dimebag Darrell, the rest of PANTERA, and my wife Maria all sitting around ........ a bar-b-q!!! Dimebag and Phil were actually cooking hot-dogs and pouring Tequila shots and handing them out to the audience, crew, and band on stage as well! I thought i might be hallucinating because of smashing my head during PANTERA's set, but no. There I am singing '18 & Life' as Dimebag squirts ketchup and mustard all over his beef frank, and as I get into the song I look out at Dime looking straight into my eyes offering me a hot dog mouthing the words, 'Duuuuuuuude! You want a bite of this delicious wiener bro, c'mon!!!' as everyone is laughing their guts out and my wife is next to Dimebag doing shots of tequila and having potato salad. Then in 'Youth Gone Wild', in the drum breakdown, seeing the whole crowd singing the words, holding up, in unison, ...... hot dogs! Thanks Dime, I do remember they tasted good!!!!

"My wife got along great with Dime. I can't remember where, some bar in the USA, but Rita, Dime's girl, was there, wearing John Lennon style rose-tinted round mirrored glasses, only with a pot leaf design on each eye. She gave me the shades as a present at the end of the night, which was very cool. During this night, Maria, my wife, had a drinking contest with Dimebag. There is some dispute as to what happened next. I remember Maria and Dime doing 33 shots of Tequila — between them both. Maria, however, seriously remembers — and do not try this at home — her and Dimebag both — doing 33 shots of tequila, each! I think this is physically impossible, but this was over the course of a full evening, and our tolerance was way up back then, so while I hope I am right and Maria is wrong about this, I must admit that if anyone could do this it would have to be Dimebag Darrell!!!! 'Getcha Pull' indeed!!!!!

"All this mayhem was not without consequence. When we all checked into the hotel in Philadelphia (I think), I had my own bus with Tony Wiggins and Big Val. Someone called my big clunky cellphone (a rarity in those days) and informed our bus that we would not be checking into the hotel that we were on our way to. Both bands had been kicked out of the hotel before I got there. The story I got was that Snake and Dimebag each did a tab of fucking acid, and as the tour managers were checking into the hotel, Dimebag took a knife to one of the leather couches in the hotel lobby, ripping it to shreds and getting both bands permanently banned from the premises! A lot of crazy shit went down in those days and a story like this was just par for the course on this tour.

"A month or so into the tour, PANTERA released 'A Vulgar Display Of Power'. Prior to this, the band was touring with us without a new album to support. But when 'Vulgar' came out after touring the USA with us for a month or so, the album came straight into the Billboard charts in the top 40 and remains to this day one of the greatest albums of all time. The day after it came into the charts, we were playing Vancouver BC at the PNE and Phil walked straight into our dressing room, 'Hey Bierk. I want a leather couch, full lights, full stage, sound check, blah blah blah.' He was joking around with a list of demands due to the 'new level' that he was now on. It was hilarious and we were all laughing but the point was made. PANTERA was now a big fucking band and from here on out, it was nothing but onward and upward for PANTERA.

"Dimebag had a 4-track recorder on the road with him at the time. I can remember many nights in his hotel room, getting drunk & recording songs. One particular highlight was Dimebag's version of 'Slave To The Grind' that he recorded on his own, re-titled 'Krell & Dykes'. 'KRELL & DYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYKES' went the chorus. Most of you know what dykes are, maybe some of you know what krell is, but Dime made a version of 'Slave To The Grind' with lyrics describing these two areas of interest on this particular tour that was truly a moment in music I wish you all could hear! He gave me a tape of it over 10 years ago, I hope I still have it. If you don't know what krell is, I am not going to tell you! But for those of you with a nose for this kind of thing, I hope one day I can find my copy of Dimebag Darrell's 'Krell & Dykes' and when I do I will post it on the net if it is not too incriminating!! We also had one night where I sang a ballad of Dime's into the 4-track as the sun was coming up. We were so drunk I couldn't stop laughing and Dime too, I just remember him saying 'C'mon, Bierk!!! I KNOW you can do it!!!' But both of us were so drunk I remember more laughing than singing going on that night. Still I know we did at least three tracks of vocals, harmonies and doubling etc., even at 7-8 am with 12 hours of drinking in us, Dime was ready to do what he did best — create rock'n'roll music like you never heard before.

"After the SKID ROW / PANTERA tour, my next major involvement with Dimebag was a band that we formed together. Named 'SEBASTIAN BACH'S ROCK BUDS', we started the band after I was asked by High Times magazine to play at a benefit in Manhattan at the Limelight. All proceeds would go to the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML). I thought this was a cool idea and they said I could play with whoever I wanted. So, first on my list was Dimebag Darrell. I called him up and he said 'Sure dude. Name the time & place and I will be there! Let's get Rex on bass!' So Rex Brown joined up, along with Bam Bam McConnell on drums and Snake on guitar. Andy McCoy from HANOI ROCKS also came up for a tune, although Dimebag refused to jam with him! The majority of the set was SKID / PANTERA; we did 'Slave', 'New Level', 'Walk', 'Monkey Business', and 'Cowboys From Hell', I think. I have this show on video in perfect condition and it is obviously something I treasure now. Dimebag came up 2 or 3 days before the show and stayed at my house. Rex stayed at Snake's. We rehearsed for the gig at SIR in Manhattan. I remember rehearsing for the gig in 'rehearsal mode', which was doing the songs but not putting alot of sweat into it. Dimebag said to everyone, 'What the fuck is this? Where is the sweat? The fire?' I said to him something lame like, 'Oh, it's just rehearsal dude.You wanna rehearse like we are actually on stage, that's cool.' Dime shot back at me 'IS THERE ANY OTHER FUCKING WAY???' I will never forget him saying that. I totally understood what he was saying and ever since then there is no 'rehearsal mode / stage mode' bullshit. Dime did it full out all the time: 'IS THERE ANY OTHER FUCKING WAY???' Not for Dimebag Darrell.

"Dimebag was also one of the most of the professional persons in the business. Yes he could out drink you under the table and into the gutter, but he also firmly believed that there was a time and a place for everything. We were all doing all sorts of shit back then, but I can remember Dimebag pulling me aside somewhere saying, dude, you 'wake & bake' don't ya? C'mon, I know ya do. I used to do that shit myself. Have a bong right next to the bed, and hit that shit as soon as I fucking woke up. But I learned you cannot do that shit dude! For real! You get a fax or a phone call or something and you are too high to deal with that shit!! That shit is not good dude!!' The fact that he would pull a friend of his aside to try and help them if he thought they needed it was a testament to the fact that Dimebag cared about others. You hear a lot about how much the man loved to party, but I also remember him being strict about putting things in their proper place. Having his shit together at all times was ultimately way more important to Dimebag than just being shitfaced 24/7. The man could not create the music he did or put on the shows he did without being at the top of his game at all times, which Dimebag always was.

"1998. I am on my very first tour of the USA as a solo artist. We are playing Pittsburgh PA at a place called Graffiti's. I get the message, PANTERA is coming to the show tonight! This is totally cool, I am on the road trying to re-establish myself & here come some of my old buds to cheer me on. Shit doesn't get any better than this. But wait... it does! Vinnie Paul shows up at the gig and gets pretty drunk, big surprise! Then he comes on stage at the end of the set and grabs the mike and screams 'Hey Pittsburgh!!! This motherfucker took us on our first ever arena tour of the USA!!!' Big cheer. Then he says something totally unexpected. 'And we are gonna take this motherfucker on his first fucking arena tour!!!!!!!!!!!' The place goes nuts. I look at my bandmates and we all look at each other in disbelief. I start to laugh, because I don't know whether it is Vinnie talking, or the vats of Crown Royal he has consumed over the evening. For me to go on tour in arenas in my solo band in the USA was a big fucking deal. We had no record out or even a label at that time. The only reason for PANTERA to take us on the road was simple — rock & roll, and a friendship that went far beyond normal music business corporate sensibilities.

"When I got back home, I could not believe my eyes. Right there in the fax machine, as I walked in the front door, was a fax from PANTERA's booking agent with three weeks of arena shows in the USA that they wanted my solo band to open! Vinnie told me that he told Dimebag about seeing us in Pittsburgh, and Dime said 'Let's bring that fucker out!' as a kind of 'thanks' for us bringing them out in 1992. I will never, ever forget this act of generosity on the part of PANTERA. For a band to ignore to industry to the point that PANTERA did is something that I doubt we will ever see again. To put me on stage in front of 20,000 people a night in 1998, like I did for them in 1992, is one of the highlights of my life.

"On the road with me at the time was Jimmy Flemion of THE FROGS on guitar. He made THE DARKNESS look like Perry Como in the stage costume department. Jimmy would come on-stage in full 7-foot green sequin wings, making him look like a giant, which accentuated his frame — the man stands 6' 6" tall with ease. To go out on-stage every night looking like a heavy metal Liberace in front of PANTERA, the most hardcore fucking audience you could ever play for, took gonads of steel. The last night of the tour, in Dayton Ohio @ Hare Arena, I turn around and what do I see? Dimebag Darrell, in his own custom made full 7-foot green paper mache wings, flying around the stage looking like Mothra on acid. He had spent all day backstage making his own set of Flemion wings, then rocked along side us in a paper mache 7-foot wingspan. I read that the shooter, who shall remain nameless, attended this exact show in 1998, in Dayton, Ohio. That makes me sick. To know one of the most fun nights in my life was actually shared with this scumbag watching us blows my mind. It is hard to think about. Also, what is it about Columbus? Not only was it the first place I ever played on the road, it is the exact city where my run as Jesus in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' came to an unexpected end. I also talked to Rick, the owner of the Alrosa, on a cellphone the night before the play ended. Things seem to start and end in Columbus. Weird, but perhaps worth mentioning.

"After we left the PANTERA tour in '98 Dimebag still kept in touch. When we played Dallas in a club in the Deep Ellum district, I turn around backstage before the show & who is standing there in the (cramped) quarters but none other than Dimebag Darrell! He has brought along Dave Williams, the late lead singer for DROWNING POOL, two PANTERA crew dudes, and 3 or 4 members of the Dallas Stars hockey team. Everyone is doing shots (trying something new!) and me and Dime are catching up before the show. He asks me if it's ok if he films the show. 'Sure', I say. Then halfway through the show, Dave Williams comes onstage and rips right into his famous 'Sebastian Bach impression!' This dude had me down better than I do myself! Dimebag was the camera man, on his back onstage filming me doing me, and Dave Williams doing me, together onstage, running between our legs and jumping around trying to get the best shot. We had a kickass time that night and Dime told me the band fucking rocked. I remember him really checking us out and giving me opinions etc. after the show. The man cared, plain and simple.

"Around 1999 I was called by producer and friend Michael Wagener to record some songs for an upcoming Randy Rhoads tribute album. He told me to contact guitarist friends of mine to see if they wanted to participate. Again, Dimebag Darrell was at the top of my list. We called him up and I got him on the horn and he was totally into the project. We collaborated on the song 'Believer' and it is one of the most treasured moments of my career in the studio. Dimebag's lead totally shreds, of course! I am just glad I got to record at least one song with the best metal guitar player of all time. Wish I could have done more!

"Dimebag was also not afraid, ever, to tell it like it is. I remember being at his club in Dallas, one night after a show. He was rolling his eyes at me, drunk, like he wanted to tell me something. Finally at the end of the night, I said to him 'Dude what up? You wanna tell me something?' He kept rolling his eyes and then said to me — loud — 'Duuuuuuuuuuude, you know why people talk shit behind your back dude? Because they don't fucking understand you!' I could tell he thought this was important to tell me. 'But you know what, mutherfucker? I am so crazy that I UNDERSTAND YOU! Yes I fucking do! FFFuuccckk!!!!! I UNDERSTAND your crazy ass, man!!!!' He slobbered into my face. But I could tell he meant what he said. He was telling me that he was so nuts that he actually even understood me, which was a backhanded way of telling me he dug what I did and for me to keep on doing it. He was a smart guy and said alot of heavy things amidst an insane world of rock'n'roll fantasy. As someone whom I respected as a fan, and as a friend, it meant a lot to me for him to say shit like that to me.

"Which is why I always cranked his music to get psyched for a show. Two days before he died, we were playing Istanbul, Turkey for the first time. After the show, we had a six-hour drive to the next town, Ankara, Turkey, where we had a gig on December 8 (Ralph Santolla's birthday, and the night Darrell and John Lennon were killed). On the way to the show, at about four in the morning, we stopped by the side of the road to get gas and something to eat. Unbelievably, they had about 30 cassettes for sale. One of these cassettes, on the side of the road in Turkey, was PANTERA's 'Far Beyond Driven'. This was crazy we thought, 'Holy Shit' we all exclaimed, 'They sell fucking PANTERA cassettes on the side of the road in Turkey, how crazy is that!!' In retrospect, it is quite strange that PANTERA was there in amongst mostly Turkish music cassettes. Needless to say we bought the tape and played it on repeat till we got to Ankara at around 8 am. I remember drifting off to sleep looking outside the window looking at the Turkish countryside, listening to 'Becoming' thinking how fucking cool Dimebag's guitar sounded. 24 hours later, he would no longer be alive on this planet. It still makes no sense...

"My favorite Dimebag Darrell memory of all was when he was staying at my house for the 'Rock Buds' gig. It was late morning in my house and I was awoken by the delicious smell of bacon being cooked downstairs. I got out of bed to go find Dimebag and wake him up. I went downstairs, and then to his guest room, but I could not find Dimebag. On my way back downstairs to the kitchen, I peeked my head into my son Paris' room, who was about 7 at the time. There was Dimebag Darrell, sitting in a little kids' toy chair, playing my son's miniature Gibson guitar, which was plugged into his mini Marshall Stack! 'Hey, Dime' I said, 'Dude, c'mon downstairs, breakfast is ready bro!! Maria made french toast and bacon let's get it on!!!!!!!' Dimebag said to me, 'Hold up, bro!! I am doing something here, hold it up! Hang on one second I am teaching your boy somethin'!!' He had been in my sons room showing him guitar riffs all morning. He thought this was an important thing to do, and the memory of Dimebag sitting in my kids room showing him guitar chords is etched in my mind forever.

"We all went downstairs, me, Dime, and Paris, and along with Maria, we enjoyed a home cooked breakfast of
Read Philip H Anselmo; On Behalf of Darrell Lance Abbott-Pt. I