Pantera Icon Dimebag Darrell - Remembering His Final Moments on Stage

Pantera Icon Dimebag Darrell - Remembering His Final Moments on Stage
Pantera Icon Dimebag Darrell - Remembering His Final Moments on Stage

It has been 14 years since an unexpected event took the life of one of the greatest guitar players in the world. That day, the metal community lost a legend; Dimebag Darrell and today, many still lament.

His Days with Pantera

Pantera is a Texan American band that was founded by the idea of ​​brothers; Vincent Paul Abbott (Vinnie Paul) and Darrell Lance Abbott (Dimebag Darrell), who were credited with the groove metal genre and began their adventure in 1981. Although initially there were only two band members, shortly after the bassist Rex Brown and vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist Terry Glaze would join later this year. In 1985, they welcomed their official vocalist; Philip Hansen Anselmo who would replace the fired Glaze and create the ultimate Pantera line up.

The band’s style would vary over the years, and would change according to how long after they found their true essence and their original sound. At the end of the entire transformation process, they would turn the band into a rather heavy proposal and this would undoubtedly be the engine that would drive them to success.

For many years they were in charge of transmitting this style to all their fans, who identified with everything that the band offered. But the violent behavior of one of their members led to that in 2001, the Pantera boys considered a temporary separation to tidy up all their affairs, including alcohol and drug issues.

Although the band had huge fame, no one would imagine that a reunion would be practically impossible after certain events happened which would mark the life of the band members as much as their loyal fans.

Damageplan and the Abbott Brothers

After each member of the Pantera band decided to separate, the brothers Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell thought that perhaps it was better to start another band project where the two were involved. And this was the birth of Damageplan.

Damageplan was mostly influenced by the particular style of the Abbott brothers, which was mainly recognized for its aggression, attitude, and power. That is how the band gradually gained fame and popularity in a short time. Although many thought that their style was very similar to Pantera, which had to be that way since half of Pantera was now in Damageplan, they knew they were getting this interest at their shows mostly from the Pantera crowd. While everything was going quite well for Damageplan, this dream was destroyed by a person who ended the life of one of the Abbott brothers.

Start of the Tragic Day where Dimebag Darrell Would Lose His Life

It was December 8, 2004, and Damageplan, a growing band, had a performance that night in the state of Ohio, specifically at Alrosa Villa in Columbus. The preparations were given with total normality, so the day went in that way. Everything was going according to plans and the stage would be ready so that the Abbott brothers along with vocalist Patrick Lachman and bassist Robert Kakaha (a.k.a. Bob Zilla) would give an unforgettable evening to their audience. Precisely that day marked 24 years since the murder of John Lennon at the hands of a fan whose trial was completely cloudy and managed to completely mourn the music industry. Nobody knew that this would become a cruel coincidence.

The Scariest Moment of the Night

Seconds after the band began their concert, someone made his way through the crowd, according to some witnesses, he violently sought to enter the nightclub and that’s how he managed to get to the back of the place where the performers were. From there he sought to approach the members of the band, and managed to reach Dimebag Darrell, who was with his hands on the instrument that gave him life. There in front of him was a bloodthirsty man, who placed a weapon at the height of his face and fired 3 times, causing the immediate death of the guitarist.

Some witnesses indicated that the murderer had a look of hatred on his face and while he saw Darrell’s inert body on the ground, he could only shout curses and insults. This man was blaming him for causing the Pantera separation. But not only was he addressing the deceased, but he was also targeting the other Abbott brother, Vinnie Paul, whom he also planned to kill that same night. This attempt to assassinate the other Abbott brother was immediately thwarted by the security personnel.

The Heartbreaking Screams of Losing a Dear Brother

Immediately after the horrible event happened, a bereaved brother shouted “He shot my brother! He shot my brother!” Immediately, Vinnie Paul jumped from his place on the drums to get to where his brother’s bloodied body lay on his guitar. Such actions, added to the anger that was being unloaded by the murderer, caused him to take a band technician hostage.

The harrowing cries of Vinnie continued for a long time, as he watched as his brother’s figure seemed to disappear into a huge pool of blood. This fact would mark everyone’s life, and it was considered a great tragedy.

The Moments of Tension Were Far from Over

Everyone present was horrified, panic and chaos seized the place. The murderer, not happy with the crime he had committed, fired his weapon once more, in this case against all the attendees that were within his reach. This resulted in the death toll of that night increasing to 4 people.

The attacker injured 2 people and ended the lives of three spectators, including Dimebag Darrell. Clearly, the tragedy was not over yet. One of the band’s technicians acted heroically while trying to bring down the murderer, whose name would be identified as Nathan Gale, who belonged to the navy. But his attempt did not bear fruit and as a reaction, Gale took him hostage, the situation only got worse.

The Person Who Ended the Tragedy and Avoided Many More Deaths

The madness of that night in that nightclub seemed endless. In a few minutes, the calls for help were heard. The police officer James D. Niggemeyer, who managed to get cautiously to the stage where he found the murderer, assessed the horrible scene. He found the dead, the wounded, and a man willing to kill anyone who got in his way, so he knew how to end that horrible night.

The officer pointed his gun at the horrible man and shot him in the neck. That’s how he prevented this person from claiming many more lives. The spectators calmed down a little when they saw that the officer was in charge. After a short while, everyone present realized that they had lost one of their dearest idols forever. There was nothing left to do. Dimebag Darrell was shot, and the six bullet impacts he received took the life of an amazing person, a pioneer, a dear friend, and one of the greatest guitarists in metal history.

Police Officer James D. Niggemeyer. Credit: Unknown

Possession of Weapons, a Topic of Controversy That is Always in Force

The horrible massacre aroused in many a great discontent and questioned the procedures under which anyone could obtain a weapon, without considering any fundamental aspect such as mental health or criminal records. Investigations determined that Nathan Gale suffered from some mental disorders that led him to commit such a horrible crime. This did not impede him to get the weapon to satisfy his homicidal fantasies. It cannot be said that this issue has been completely eradicated since several tragedies occurred in the nation against the many innocents who have lost their lives.

Not All Spectators Fled the Stage

Not all the people who were at Alrosa Villa nightclub on that December 8 were moving away from that place. In fact, a couple of young people approached Dimebag Darrell’s body to give him first aid. One of these was Nurse Mindy Reece, who kept giving first aid to the guitarist’s body while paramedics were on their way to the site. Also, before her, a young man named Nathan Bryan tried to help Dimebag, but Gale noticed this and fired his weapon against him, taking his life.

Funeral of Dimebag Darrell

This tragic news quickly toured the world of music, and many rock figures attended the funeral of the unforgettable Dimebag Darrell. Among those present that day were: Edward Van Halen, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Zakk Wylde, Ozzy Osbourne, Rex Brown (his former partner in Pantera), John Dette, Dave Mustaine, Tony Iommi, among others. That day, his brother Vinnie Paul gave an extremely emotional speech for his dear brother.

Darrell was buried in a coffin related to the band Kiss (which was his favorite band). Next to his body was also a Charvel EVH guitar, which belonged to Edward Van Halen who had a great influence on him through the years.

An Event That Continues to Be Incredible

It has been 14 years since this tragedy happened and many people who witnessed it have not been able to forget how horrible that night was. What happened there was worrying, not to mention that the life of one of the best guitarists in the world ended that day. Two great musicians lost their lives on December 8; John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell. Only 24 years apart. Even so, the way everything happened is still quite similar.

The Aftermath of the Horrible Tragedy

For many, this was described as the worst moment they have had to live. And today, 14 years after the tragedy, it is still difficult to assimilate everything that happened. This tragedy has marked many lives, some more than others. A massacre of that magnitude can only leave negative consequences for any person. Such is the case of that brave officer who managed to put an end to this tragedy. At that moment, Niggemeyer seemed to know well how to react to and finally end everything that was happening in that nightclub. Even so, these were moments of tension for everyone involved.

After that night, the brave officer could not lead a normal life. That scene had been etched in his mind. The officer tried to continue with his normal work, but it was becoming more complicated every day and caused him deeper stress. The police officer was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and that was compounded by severe anxiety. Every time he passed by a bar or a busy place, he felt a great pressure that did not allow him to continue normally. Every detail of that night was in his head. First, the horrible scene, then firing at the attacker. In an interview, the officer mentioned that the killer still had 35 bullets when he fell, and he can only think that this is the number of people he saved that day.

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