By Andrew Catania
Darrel Lance Abbott, more familiarly known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell was born on August 20th, 1960 in Texas. Although it was his virtuosic guitar playing and fine lyrics composition that brought him fame, this might come as a surprise to many of his fans that Dimebag started playing as a drummer, while his brother Vinnie Paul practiced his fingers on the whammy bars.
Later, as Vinnie’s aptitude veered off from the chords to skins, Dimebag Darrell took hold of the guitar. The chords suited perfectly complemented the musical flair that his fingers possessed and there was no turning back for him. Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul formed their first band called Pantera’s Metal Magic, which gradually evolved, gained prominence and became Pantera of today.
Since the very start, Dimebag Darrell’s playing techniques exhibited a clear non-conformity to the conventional playing styles in various genres. He attempted to improvise his metal forte through strong doses of groove. Combining the essence of heavy metal with groove, Dimebag Darrell is one of the pioneers who evolved, nurtured and promoted the groove metal genre.
Dimebag Darrell was an inspiration for many budding musicians for his virtuosic groovy techniques. Yet he himself was a diehard fan of American rock band Kiss and was particularly inspired by Kiss’ lead guitarist Ace Frehley. He often mentioned that his primary influences were drawn from the likes of Tony Iommi, Pete Willis, and Eddie Van Halen.
His professional music career, spanning over a good 25 years from 1979 to 2004, is an era that is punctuated with multiple associations, experimentations, and his contribution towards progressing groove metal, and numerous solos and joint feats. Aside from his cofounded brainchild Pantera, Dimebag Darrell had partnered and performed with Damageplan, Anthrax, Pumpjack, King Diamond, Gasoline, and Rebel Meets Rebel.
Darrel started playing on a Hondo’s version of Les Paul and later switched over to playing on a variety of other guitars, including cherry sunburst, ML, his personalized ‘Dean from Hell’, Dean ML, Jackson Rhoads, and a blue Hamer ML. Dean Guitars and Washburn Guitars have also released signature Dimebag models for his fans and inspired musicians.
In recognition of his immense contribution to metal instrumentals and his signature grooves, Guitar Player magazine listed Dimebag Darrell as one of the bearers of ‘The 50 Greatest Tones of All Times’. Rolling Stone Magazine placed him at 92nd rank in the list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Times. UK’s Metal Hammer Magazine ranked him as the best guitarist of all times. Aside from the media appraise and popular opinion, Dimebag Darrel was declared as one of the most influential stylists driving the progression of modern metal.
Dimebag Darrell had delivered fiery performance on his tours and concerts, completely stealing the shows through his blazing and enthralling tones. During one such performance, with the crew of Damageplan in Ohio, an armed man opened fired at Dimebag Darrell live at the stage. Darrell was severely wounded by multiple straight head shots and could not survive this murderous assault. Darrell was buried in full honor, along with his favorite Bumblebee Charvel Hybrid VH2 that was presented to him by the maestro Eddie Van Halen.