Dimebag: Still Remembered, Still Missed

Five years ago today, one of my heroes was murdered. Dimebag Darrell, guitarist from Pantera, Damageplan and Rebel Meets Rebel was shot while performing in Columbus, Ohio by Nathan Gale, a crazed fan disgruntled with the split of Pantera. The metal world and beyond was devastated by the news. In such a tight-knit and almost-tribal community, the passing of one of it’s most loved and well respected members was awful.

In my parents generation, everyone remembers where they were when Kennedy was shot: for metal fans, we remember where we were when Dimebag’s passing was announced. I was sat in a meeting room at OpenAdvantage in Birmingham, suited and booted, about to have the most important meeting of my career with a large Open Source deployment. Literally minutes before the meeting started, I got a text from my then-girlfriend with the news. I was devastated. Not only was Dimebag a huge inspiration in my own playing, but part of the reason why the news was so hard to swallow is that a significant reason why Dimebag was so loved was that he seemed like such a nice guy.

I studied every one of their audio and video releases. I would listen to their CDs, play along as I learned guitar, headbang to Pantera at my local rock club, and I used Pantera’s 3: Watch It Go video as an inspiration for living life to the full. Dimebag was not only a musical inspiration, but a role model for one such passionate metal fan and musician in his formative years. And then, just like that, my role model was taken away from me.

I used to sneer at people who became attached to musicians, actors and the like, but today I mourn Dimebag’s passing. That may make me silly and naive, but that is tiny price to pay for everything he has given me. Rest well, buddy.

  • http://www.jessejoe.com/ Jesse Jarzynka

    Agree Jono. One of my heroes. Probably the biggest influence on my playing, and one of the most original guitarists ever.

    Although I think a more fitting comparison to our parent’s generation would be the day John Lennon was assassinated, which ironically was on this same day in 1980.

    Two of my musical heroes, well remembered.

  • http://www.seanjc.com Sean

    Well put and agreed

  • Ron Schreiner

    When I worked as a stagehand on Pantera’s “Reinventing The Steel” tour stop in Minnesota, I worked with Grady, Dime’s Guitar Tech, and helped him setup the guitar rig for that night’s show.

    Grady actually ran all of Dime’s pedals and guitar effects, so all he had to do was play. Powered by 6 Warhead amps in a rack case off-stage-left in guitar world, Grady and the gear allowed Dime to rock the Target Center.

    I remember Dime had 4 long road cases that each had four 4×12 cabinets in them, (so 4 x 4×12 for a total of 16 speakers per long case x 4 cases, for a total of 64 12″ speakers on stage) and ALL of them were live.

    Totally loud and totally insane.

    I was also a guitar tech on the Ozzfest 2000 tour on which bands like Distrubed, Godsmack, Taproot, Primer 55, Reveille, Kittie, Apartment 26, Ozzy and Pantera were all a part, and what a blast seeing al lthose great bands play night after night, especially Pantera.

  • bigkev

    truly sad indeed, I remember I was working for Student Loans at the time, news came on the bbc site, one of my colleagues was a big fan too…

    What the hell did Gale hope to achieve?

    We’d do well to remember the other three killed at the same time, attempting to defend Darrell, or attempting to save his life, it takes a lot of guts to charge a gun wielding maniac…Jeff “Mayhem” Thompson, the band’s head of security, Erin Halk and Nathan Bray also died that day…

  • jono

    Wise words, Kev! Thanks!

  • dacar

    I can’t remember where I was the day Dimebag passed, but in the last few days I was really enjoying some Pantera’s albums, three of them listened for the very first time, like “Power Metal”, “I am the Night” and “Metal Magic”…did’t know they began in such a way, and I enjoyed those too! 😀 I hope he’ll rest in peace, and I hope that this kind of situation will not repeat again: it’s really sad that someone could still being killed in these days, and I feel it’s yet more sad when the murdered is an artist…

  • http://azureblues.com Erik Slade

    I felt the same way when I heard of his passing. It seemed odd to me at the time that I would feel this way about someone a world away from me. But hey, that’s the way music can hit us all.


  • http://mneptok.com Kurt von Finck

    And let us also not forget that John Lennon was murdered December 8, 1980.

    Two very different styles, two very similar fates.

  • Sebastian Faubel

    Thanks for this great post, Jono. I’m currently listening to all my old Pantera albums again. Damn, great stuff!

    I think the tragedy in this case is, that Dime was murdered for his courage — the courage to end what made him adored god-like by millions around the planet. Breaking up Pantera meant that the idols of this band were also only human: with weaknesses. However, for many people this band was the mask to hide their own weaknesses; it was a symbol for strength and self-confidence. Ultimately, Dime died for having the courage to publicly display that he also was, only human.

    — Thanks for giving me so much insipration and a fucking great time in my youth, Dude!

  • http://www.blogistan.co.uk/blog/ Matthew Smith

    I think I was where I was when I hear (or rather read) most news – in front of my computer!

    Are you aware that there is a feature on him in the recent edition of Kerrang? They have an interview with his widow.