Dimebag Darrell, born as Darrell Abbott (August 20, 1966 – December 8, 2004), also known as Diamond Darrell, was an American musician, guitarist, songwriter, and a co-founder of the band Pantera.
Dimebag was born in Arlington, Texas, to Carolyn and Jerry Abbott, a country musician and producer. He first received a guitar when he was twelve, it was a Hondo-style Les Paul along with a small amplifier. As a teenager he won a series of local guitar competitions, which brought him the prize of Dean ML. His musical influences were thrash metal bands such as Slayer, Megadeth, Venom, and Metallica but also the classical ones like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and Judas Priest. He formed Pantera in 1981 with his brother Vinnie Paul on drums, Terry Glaze on rhythm guitar (and later vocals), and Rex Brown on bass. They gained some local popularity as a glam metal band and managed to release four albums Metal Magic (1983), Projects in the Jungle (1984), and I Am the Night (1985) through an independent label. But it was not until they replaced Terry Glaze with Phil Anselmo and changed the musical style and image into a heavier one, than they gained the real popularity.
Power Metal (1988), the first album released with Phil Anselmo, has already been a sign of change, and the following Cowboys From Hell (1990) brought the band an international success. They have been promoting the album on tours with Exodus, Judas Priest, Fates Warning, Prong, Morbid Angel and Suicidal Tendencies, participating even in Monsters in Moscow with AC/DC and Metallica in September 1991, where they played to a crowd of over 500,000 in celebration of the new freedom of performing Western music in the Soviet Union shortly before its collapse three months later. Pantera’s next albums, Vulgar Display of Power (1992) and Far Beyond Driven (1994), turned out to be real milestones in the history of metal. The band played in Japan for the first time in July 1992 and later performed at the Monsters of Rock festival with Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. Far Beyond Driven’s single, ‘I’m Broken’, earned the band’s first Grammy nomination for the Best Metal Performance in 1995.
However, the success also caused the tension within the band and the fights with the journalists and security guards. Phil Anselmo had to face the trial because of the latter, he was sentenced to 100 hours of community service. What was worse, due to back pain, he got addicted from alcohol and heroin and started to spread controverial remarks during the concerts. What distanced Phil even more from the band was starting a side project Down, a supergroup consisting of Anselmo, three members of Crowbar—guitarist Kirk Windstein, bassist Todd Strange and drummer Jimmy Bower, and Corrosion of Conformity guitarist Pepper Keenan.
Nevertheless, the band managed to complete and release another album, The Great Southern Trendkill (1996), with Phil Anselmo recording the vocals in Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor’s studio in New Orleans while the rest of the band members recorded in Dallas, evidence of the growing split between Anselmo and the rest of the band. On July 13, 1996, Anselmo overdosed heroin an hour after a Texas homecoming gig, but thanks to the immediate reaction of the paramedics, he managed to survive. The news that the singer is addicted came as a shock for the rest of the band, Anselmo said that he relapsed twice after this and was overcome with guilt. In 1997 live album, Official Live: 101 Proof, was released and Pantera received their second and third Best Metal Performance Grammy Nominations for Trendkill’s ‘Suicide Note (Pt. I)’ and ‘Cemetery Gates’ in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Also in 1997, Pantera played on the mainstage of Ozzfest alongside Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative, Fear Factory, Machine Head, and Powerman 5000. Additionally, the band played on the 1998 UK Ozzfest tour alongside Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Foo Fighters, Slayer, Soulfly, Fear Factory, and Therapy?.
In 1999, Pantera released another album Reinventing the Steel, which turned out to be a great success again. The band returned to touring, although the tour in Europe was cut short by the September 11, 2001 attacks which left the band stranded in Dublin, Ireland for 6 days as a result of all the flights being cancelled. Pantera played their last show in Yokohama, Japan at the Beast Feast festival on August 28, 2001. This would be the last time the members of Pantera performed together. Back home, the band planned to release its fourth home video in Summer 2002 and record another studio album later that year, but neither came about.
Anselmo again engaged in numerous side projects, Vinnie Paul claims that Phil told him he would take a year off following the events of September 11, 2001, but Anselmo’s touring and recording output for both Superjoint Ritual and Down contradicted this. The Abbott brothers were frustrated, and held out for a time, assuming Anselmo would return. However, according to Anselmo, taking a break from Pantera was a “mutual thing” between each of the band members. Regardless of the reason, Dimebag and Vinnie Paul decided to officially end Pantera in 2003, when they concluded that Anselmo had abandoned the band for good and would not return. The break-up was followed by a nasty war of comments between Anselmo and the Abbot brothers, with Rex Brown being caught up in the middle.
Dimebag soon formed a new band, Damageplan, together with Vinnie Paul, vocalist Pat Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla. Their first album, New Found Power, released in 2004, was an instant success. The band went touring to promote the record, during the concert in Columbus, Ohio, an armed man entered the stage and started to shoot, killing and injuring several people, including Dimebag. He was buried with Eddie Van Halen’s black and yellow-striped Charvel electric guitar in a casket inspired by the band Kiss in Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Arlington.
Ride For Dime Inc., a nationally registered charity, was formed in 2005 in order to hounor his life. It hosts annual motorcycle runs and concerts, with all proceeds going to Little Kids Rock, and towards funding the Ride For Dime Scholarship Fund.