Born on August 20, 1966, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott would have turned 45 this week if he hadn't been shot and killed while performing onstage with Damageplan in 2004. A major tragedy in rock music, Dimebag's death marked the loss of one of the genre's most inventive, compelling and downright badass players ever. Combining an ability to write utterly distinctive riffs with an astonishing talent for solo shredding, he was the Eddie Van Halen of his generation.
Pantera burst like a bomb in the American consciousness when they appeared with 1990's Cowboys from Hell. Between singer Phil Anselmo's super-tough persona (he's kind of a redneck Henry Rollins) and Darrell's guitar playing (which involved down-tuned riffs so abbreviated they were practically choked), the band created a sound as funky as it was heavy and got huge overnight. For better or for worse, they were particularly popular with the scary crew-cut/long-shorts sect of the metal scene. This reputation for representing the murky (and potentially dangerous) world of hillbilly frat boys may have turned some people away from Pantera, and although Darrell was known as a truly exciting guitar player from the first chugging seconds of " Cowboys from Hell," Pantera never really shook this Ruby Ridge stigma and, as a result, he doesn't always get the credit he deserves.
The fact is, Darrell's super-groove metal had a major effect on the generation of guitar players that followed him, touching on the alt metal of the '90s, the metalcore kids to come, and of course, "groove metal," which Pantera essentially invented. Not to mention Darrell's pervasive influence on the heaviest band ever, blues-metal masters Eyehategod. What other guitar players have that kind of influence? There's only a handful. Jimi ... Eddie ... his name should be among them. Just check "Cemetary Gates."
Here you'll find a playlist featuring some of Dimebag's finest moments. Whatever you do, don't skip "The Great Southern Trendkill." Also, definitely play this loud.