When Pantera and Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was killed onstage at an Ohio concert in 2004, friends and admirers were quick to note that he wasn't just a martyr who was only appreciated after his demise, but one of the most storied figures in heavy music while he was still alive. Every metal band who passed through Dallas at one point or another has a story about being taken to the Clubhouse, the strip club Dimebag owned along with his brother, Pantera and Damageplan drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott, or about the escapades and chaos that ensued at the brothers' property in Arlington, Texas.
In addition to the onstage tribute at this year's Ozzfest, which featured performances from members of Alice in Chains, Slayer, Anthrax and Sepultura, just about everyone in the backstage area had something to say about the late guitarist. Here are three memories from some of the Ozzfest main stage performers:
Jonathan Davis (Korn): "The shit he did, that's what got me into heavy music — Vulgar Display of Power. I was only into Eighties music before that. The heaviest thing I listened to was Skinny Puppy and Ministry, but that wasn't metal. When I heard Vulgar Display, I was like, 'Holy shit, what the fuck is this?' The first time I ever saw them live, before Korn was even signed, me and Fieldy went, and it was Pantera and Sepultura at Irving Meadows in L.A. They came out, started the first song, the curtain dropped, and me and Fieldy just started crying. We looked at each other and we had tears in our eyes because it was so fucking intense and heavy and sick."
Serj Tankian: "When [System of a Down] played with Pantera at the Forum, my parents had come to the show, and my parents are definitely not into heavy music at all. They were older, in their late sixties. What they were doing was very special, to a point where my parents, who are not into any rock or metal or any type of heavy music, really got them. I was blown away, and I said, 'Really? You're not just messing with me?' They said, 'No, we love them. You guys were great, but they are awesome.'"
Blasko (bass, Ozzy Osbourne): "The first Pantera song I heard probably would have been 'Cowboys From Hell,' which I thought was cool, but I don't think I really got it until Vulgar Display of Power. Then I said, 'Okay, now I get it, now I see what's happening.' When I first heard 'I'm Broken,' I thought, 'This is the raddest song ever — the raddest riff.' It just makes me want to break shit. It was like, 'This is the song I wish I wrote.' That was the song where I was just said, 'Fuck!'"