12/09/2004

RIP Dimebag Darrell

Dimebag Darrell, co-founder and guitarist for the wildly influential metal band Pantera, was shot and killed during a concert last night.

A gunman charged onstage at a packed nightclub and opened fire on the band and the crowd, killing top heavy metal guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and three other people before a police officer shot him to death, authorities and witnesses said.

Columbus police department spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio identified three of the victims of Wednesday's shooting as Abbott, guitarist with the heavy metal rock band Damageplan, and two other men, Nathan Bray and Erin Halk.

Damageplan had just begun their first song at the Alrosa Villa when the man opened fire, first targeting Abbott, shooting him multiple times at point-blank range, a witness said.
AllMusic has an excellent biography of Pantera that details their career and their place in the heavy metal pantheon:
With such classic songs as "Walk," "Mouth for War," and "Fucking Hostile," this album [Vulgar Display of Power] essentially changed the sound of heavy metal upon its release in 1992, a key moment in the evolution of metal, post-dating the simultaneous demise of thrash and Metallica's commercial breakthrough and pre-dating the rise of Korn and the successive alternative metal movement.
Darrell's distinctive guitar work, guttural and aggressive, was as much a signature sound for Panteral as Tom Scholz's was for 70's arena-rock staple Boston; the first few seconds of a song were all you needed to recognize the guitarwork, even if you weren't familiar with the particular song. Of the bands most closely identified with the sub-genre of metal known as "Harder Than Thou", Pantera was the one that made the most of it - even if they were not the first.

Dimebag Darrell will almost certainly take his place alongside people like Randy Rhoads and Cliff Burton in the hagiography of fallen metal musicians. Heavy metal has lost an icon.