"This is amazing. I've never seen so many rockers in one place," System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian was saying last night backstage at Hollywood's Key Club, just before going to rehearse a version of Bruce Springsteen's "Ghost of Tom Joad" with Tom Morello.
The occasion was the Dimebag Bash, the annual tribute to late Pantera guitarist Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott, who was tragically murdered on stage in 2004. Members of Pantera (including bassist Rex Brown), Rob Zombie guitarist John 5, Disturbed's David Draiman, Sebastian Bach, Ben Harper, Duff McKagan and many more descended on the venue to honor Abbott's memory. "It still hurts," Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell told Rolling Stone.
Everyone there gave it their all, rocking out on songs by Dio, like "Man On The Silver Mountain," "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules"; and Metallica*, including "Seek and Destroy," sung by Draiman, and "Cemetery Gates," led by Bach. But the night also served as a tribute to metal in general. Bach, a ubiquitous frontman, also rocked Van Halen's "Unchained" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love." And with so many different musicians in the house, the night stretched beyond metal, like the Springsteen track performed by Tankian and Morello. And in the midst of almost five hours of metal mayhem, there was a lovely acoustic rendition of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."
Thanks to Abbott's widow, Rita Haney, all proceeds from the concert went to Wendy Dio's charity Stand Up and Shout, which raises money for cancer research; her husband, Ronnie James Dio, died of stomach cancer in May 2010. And ultimately, a night dedicated to both Abbott and Dio was about the best of the music they created and loved. Somewhere around 1 a.m., it ended as loud as it began, with Draiman leading the musicians in Pantera's "Walk."
* This story has been corrected.