Soon after Abbott's band Damageplan began playing their gig at the Alrosa Villa club Wednesday night, a gunman charged the stage and shot him before turning his gun on the audience. Abbott and three others were killed before a patrol officer was able to fatally shot the attacker.
Abbott, 38, was formerly a member of Texas thrash metal giants Pantera, whose longtime lineup also included singer Phil Anselmo, bassist Rex Brown and drummer (and Abbott's brother) Vinnie Paul. 1990's Cowboys From Hell and 1992's Vulgar Display of Power -- with its classic metal tracks "Walk" and "Mouth for War" -- put them at the heart of heavy metal, peaking when their 1994 album, Far Beyond Driven, debuted at Number One. Not long after Pantera's breakup, Abbott and Paul formed Damageplan in early 2003, along with singer Patrick Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla. Their debut album, New Found Power, was released last February.
Abbott's friends and peers talked to Rolling Stone about the thrash metal legend.
Scott Ian of Anthrax
He was larger than life. He used to call me "the action figure" because of how I move around onstage, and I used to tell him he stepped right out of a comic book. He was just so full of energy and such a strong presence. [As a musician], he had everything -- just his originality, the riffs he wrote, his tone and what he did with his guitar. He didn't sound like anybody before him, and nobody could come close to duplicating what he did. That's the best thing you could say about any musician . . . I'm still kind of stunned. It's hard for me to believe that this is how his life ended. I don't know if I'm ready to accept the fact that I'm not gonna go to see him play live and have him obnoxiously shoving drinks down my throat.
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth
I knew him by wanting to play with him. We had Pantera open for Megadeth in the U.S. and in Europe. When you get to the level of guitar playing that I'm at and that he was at, the air is pretty thin up there . . . Darrell was a really gentle spirit and pretty easygoing guy. Society is looking at this and saying, "This is heavy metal." That's not heavy metal, that's a random act.
Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne
He was beyond beautiful. When he'd walk in the room, he'd light it up. Fuck the guitar playing -- he's right up there with Eddie and Randy and Hendrix. All he wanted to do was make everyone happy. He was the ray of sunshine. Dime will never die ever -- he's in my veins. He's sitting at God's tavern, having a cold one with Randy Rhoads and Hendrix. Dime was an original.
Jonathan Davis of Korn
In the Eighties, honestly, I was more into dance music, New Romantic music like Depeche Mode. Vulgar Display of Power totally opened my eyes to a more traditional kind of metal. That made me go, "I want to be in a band like this. This is the shit." I really became a huge fan of Pantera, especially with what Darrell did. I'll never forget that trademark fucking flying "V" guitar of his and his crazy, dyed fucking goatee and insane, undeniable riffs that he wrote that have been copied I don't know how many fucking times. He was one of the last great, traditional metal guitarists of our day. He was just a legend. It seems like all the great guitar players get taken early.
I remember when Fieldy took me my first Pantera concert, back in '92, '93. We both started breaking out crying because it was so fucking insane, so intense. You just get goose bumps, how badass that shit is . . . I feel numb that that shit can even happen. The metal community is such a tight community, everyone is just feeling it. I feel so fucking bad for his brother because those two were inseparable. I could tell Darrell was so full of fucking life and such a cool guy -- he was just the life of the party. He knew how to live life to its fullest, took everything in excess and just made life bigger than it is. The guy was so fucking cool.