‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott, Dead at 38

I've been putting off writing this post for a while now, but if I put it off any longer, I'll probably lose the inspiration to write it altogether.

For those that haven't heard, five people were murdered during a Damageplan concert in Columbus, Ohio on the evening of December 8, 2004. One of the slain was the band's guitarist, 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott. He was also the guitarist and a founding member of Pantera. He was the first person targeted by the gunman, who was gunned down by a police officer responding to the situation moments later.

There are a few things that really bother me about this whole ordeal. First and foremost, Dimebag is dead. He is easily one of my favorite guitarists and one of the biggest inspirations for me in music. The man had an incredible gift for writing and playing, one of those gifts that few people possess and even fewer are able to take advantage of. In my opinion his greatest strength was his rhythm playing, and, more to the point, the riffs he brought to the table. I'm hard pressed to think of one other guitarist in metal that wrote as many badass riffs as he did. It's like he had a magic bag of guitar tricks that he would go into when writing songs and just pull them out, with no effort at all. I still say to this day that the main riff in “Regular People” is the coolest riff I've ever heard. He was also an incredibly gifted lead player, as evidenced in songs such as “Hollow” or “Floods”. The man had the gift of music, and that gift has been silenced.

Secondly, the circumstances surrounding his death really bother me. I was pretty shocked when I first heard about it, but as more details came out, it bothered me more and more. From the reports I have read, the murderer was an obsessive Pantera fan who believed that Pantera stole the lyrics to songs he had written, and also blamed Dimebag for Pantera's breakup. He apparently went to the show to kill all of the members Dimebag's new band, Damageplan, which included Dimebag's brother/Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul. Nobody can really say what was going on in the killer's mind, but I think it's pretty safe to say he wasn't all there. Regardless of whether he was sane or not, the fact that someone is that obsessed with a band is quite disturbing. Granted, I'm a large fan of music, and a rather rabid fan of my favorite bands, but killing a band member over the breakup of a band is just plain pointless, and totally stupid. If he was so distressed about Pantera's breakup, what does killing their guitarist and drummer accomplish? The only thing it does ensure is that there will be no reunion for that band. So in the end, the outcome is nothing but a senseless killing.

The third thing that really bothered me came out a few days after the killings, in response to the murders and the metal community's outpouring of grief over the issue. I stumbled across a post in one of the RSS feeds I peruse for my daily news. It brought the fury out of the person that had posted the link, and it did the same for myself and all of the people I sent it along to. The link in question is an editorial piece written up by a 'gentleman' named William Grim for the website iconoclast.ca. When I say 'gentleman', I of course mean an arrogant elitist prick whose head is so far up his own ass that it's in danger of coming out of his mouth, creating some sort of right wing conservative chicken/egg paradox. The piece was an ignorant and horribly judgmental depiction of Dimebag and the metal community as a whole. The man is flat out wrong on so many levels that I don't even know where to start. I guess I'll just pick them off one at a time.

It was highly amusing, and also terribly sad, to watch on television fans conducting a “vigil”for the slain Mr. Abbott outside of the Alrosa Villa.

The vigil was “highly amusing”? Watching people mourn the loss of an innocent man murdered in cold blood is amusing? Right. I'll be sure to chuckle when our good friend Mr. Grim expires.

But one can see why the heavy metal fans so closely identified with Mr. Abbott. He was an ignorant, barbaric, untalented possessor of a guitar and large amplifier system. Freakish in appearance, more simian than human, he was the performer of a type of “entertainment” that can be likened only to a gorilla on PCP. Lacking subtlety, wit, style, emotional range and anything approaching even the smallest iota of intellectual or musical interest, Mr. Abbott was part of a generation that has confused sputum with art and involuntary reflex actions with emotion.

Stunningly judgmental statements here. I think it's a pretty safe bet that Mr. Grim had never met Dimebag, but he seems perfectly comfortable passing sweeping judgments nonetheless. I'm particularly 'fond' of the part where he refers to Dimebag as untalented. It's a quite common belief that in order to accurately judge someone else's prowess in a particular skill or craft, you must also possess similar skills. While I can't speak to Mr. Grim's musical knowledge, many people have classified Dimebag as one of the most influential guitarists of the past 10 years. Gorillas on PCP do not garner such respect from people who know what they're talking about.

Part of the hard work of civilization is teaching young to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad in all aspects of life. If we teach our young children to obey the 10 Commandments and to obey the laws of the land, but don't teach them to realize that Johann Sebastian Bach is superior to Dimebag Abbott, we have failed as parents and mentors. If a person has gone through 12 or 13 years of education and has not developed an appreciation for the greatest artistic achievements of mankind, that education has been an utter failure.

I partially agree with the first part of this statement, but we quickly diverge after that. There are things that things that can be considered good and some things that can be considered bad, but art and music are not in this category. These things are completely subjective, and mean different things to different people. There is no magic equation or all-inclusive law that defines what is good or bad in the artistic and musical worlds. Musical and artistic tastes are as varied as the people on the planet, so we should instead focus on exposing our children to many forms of art and music and let them make their own conclusions as to what is “good” and what is “bad.” Mr. Grim makes many statements that seem to implicate that classical music of the renaissance is innately superior to heavy metal and the other forms of music of our day. Being a self-proclaimed elitist, I can only assume that he his trying to justify his musical tastes by trying to elevate them in the same fashion by which he attempts to elevate himself – ignorant judgments. No piece of music will elicit identical reactions in two people, so how can one piece of music be rationally considered better?

Ok, that's enough. There's no need for me to continue this, I'm just making myself mad. Rest in peace Darrell. We'll keep shredding.

\m/

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