Dimebag Darrell 1966–2004

A hesher hero, with heroes of his own
photo: Joe Giron

It's devastating, yet oddly poetic, that 38-year-old heavy-metal guitar god Dimebag Darrell (ex-Pantera) literally died onstage. On December 8 in Columbus, Ohio, just seconds after the seminal shredder's new band, Damageplan, started their first song, a 25-year-old gunman—allegedly seeking revenge for Dimebag breaking up Pantera—jumped onstage, repeatedly shot Darrell point-blank, then turned on the audience, killing three others. Dimebag (born Darrell Abbott) was idolized in the metal community, where his genius was acknowledged as ranking with that of Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen. Pantera's dissonant, pot-fueled, power-groove riffs completely reshaped the template of modern metal, and the band's cult-like status—which, over the course of five studio albums, grew into auditorium-sized popularity—was hugely responsible for metal's comeback after its late-'80s–early-'90s stranglehold by grunge and alternative. A self-proclaimed advocate of THC, tittie bars—he owned one in his home state of Texas—and, of course, titanium-plated music, Dimebag always came off more like a fan than a rock star. He'd gush about his heroes, Judas Priest and Kiss, and he constantly supported up-and-coming acts. As the lyrics from Pantera's final hit, the hesher anthem "Goddamn Electric," affirm, the dude lived it: "Your trust is in whiskey and weed and Black Sabbath." He was goddamn electric.

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