Editor’s note: This article was originally published in ED Magazine (formerly ED’s Club Bulletin) in the January 2005 issue, following the on-stage murder of legendary Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. Abbott and his brother, the late Vinnie Paul, were co-owners of The Clubhouse strip club in Dallas. ED Publisher Dave Manack, the author of this story, had interviewed the Abbott brothers just six weeks before the tragedy that occurred 18 years ago today on December 8, 2004. Pantera has recently embarked on a “tribute” tour, featuring guitarist Zakk Wylde (Ozzy, Black Label Society) and drummer Charlie Benante (Anthrax), who are stepping in for Dime and Vinnie. A Summer 2023 stadium tour opening for Metallica is forthcoming.


On the morning of December 9, 2004, I received a phone call from a good friend.

“Dime is dead,” the friend said. “Someone shot him last night.”

I turned on CNN and saw the report. Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott, guitarist for Damageplan and formerly of Pantera, was shot while on stage during a Damageplan concert at the Alrosa Villa club in Columbus, Ohio. The gunman, Nathan Gale, 25, of Marysville, Ohio, was reportedly targeting Darrell and his brother Vinnie Abbott, the drummer of Damageplan (and formerly Pantera), and shot Darrell several times at point-blank range. While Vinnie was not killed, four other people were (including the gunman), while several others were wounded by Gale.

“Dimebag” Darrell was one of the most popular and influential guitarists in the history of heavy metal. The band he helped to popularize, Pantera, sold over 10 million records, was nominated for two Grammy awards (1995 & 2001) and had a number-one album with their 1994 offering “Far Beyond Driven.” He was on the cover of countless guitar magazines.

But “Dime,” as he was known by friends and fans alike, was also an adult nightclub owner. Along with his brother Vinnie and three others, Darrell was a co-owner of The Clubhouse in Dallas, Texas. For those unfamiliar with the club, The Clubhouse is one of the most successful and well-known adult nightclubs in the entire Dallas/Ft. Worth area. In fact, the club is a four-time ED Award winner for having the top nude club in their region of the country.

(L-R: Dimebag, Manack, Vinnie Paul. Photo by Bill Lussier)

It was only six weeks earlier that I had interviewed both Dime and Vinnie in Tampa, FL, where they had stopped for a show on their Damageplan concert tour. I was interviewing them about their involvement in the adult nightclub industry; what made them buy an adult club, their opinions on the industry at large, etc. And they had a lot of great things to say. They had informed opinions, and their genuine enjoyment of the adult nightclub industry—both as owners and patrons—was clear.

“I’m all about trying to spiff up and look nice at (adult nightclubs), and hey, I don’t expect them to let us jump up and tear the chandeliers down—but if a shot glass goes flying in the corner, just take it easy on us,” said Darrell with a hearty laugh during that October 2004 interview. “It’s the uppity (adult nightclubs) that I just don’t feel comfortable in. If I don’t feel comfortable, I’m not going to have any fun.”

Through my brief experiences with him, Darrell always seemed like a fun-loving, easy-going guy, one who never portrayed himself as “rock star.” Wherever he was, he was simply there to have a good time with those around him.

“Through these eyes, Darrell was incredibly warm, open, fun, nutty, forthcoming, talented, embracing, unpretentious, accommodating and he always had a very attractive innocence about him that obviously made him never threatening and always welcoming,” said Metallica’s Lars Ulrich (as reported on the Blabbermouth.net website). “Darrell and his brother were the cornerstone of musical adventures that were always groundbreaking, pushing boundaries, challenging to themselves and to their fans, respected by their peers and always true musicians’ musicians, and today the rock world is worse off because of this untimely and senseless waste.”

“I’m all about trying to spiff up and look nice at (adult nightclubs), and hey, I don’t expect them to let us jump up and tear the chandeliers down—but if a shot glass goes flying in the corner, just take it easy on us.” – “Dimebag” Darrell

“The guy just loved to laugh and he loved to make you laugh,” added Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor. “And he loved to make you do something that you would never do in a million years. He was a guy that lived in the moment. His philosophy was, ‘Let’s do something that is gonna make us remember tonight for the rest of our lives.’ And that’s something I’m gonna miss for the rest of mine.”

Many, many more fellow musicians reflected Ulrich’s and Taylor’s comments in the hours and days after the shooting. In many of those comments, there seemed to be one single underlying refrain: Why? Why in the world would someone walk into a concert with a gun and shoot someone on stage, then start firing wildly into a crowd? And why Darrell?
Ironically, another shooting occurred 24 years ago to the day Darrell was murdered. On December 8, 1980, another deranged individual, Mark Chapman, shot and killed John Lennon outside of his New York City apartment building. Surely, comments then echoed those heard in December 2004. Why him?

Manack with the Abbott brothers at the 2003 Gentlemen's Club Expo
Manack with the Abbott brothers at the 2003 Gentlemen’s Club Expo, photo by Tim Hubbard

In October 2004, during his parole hearing, Chapman admitted that he shot Lennon because he was jealous of him and “wanted to steal his fame,” but ended up “a bigger nobody than I was before.” Chapman was denied his parole.

But Gale will not have the chance for parole. Officer James D. Niggemayer arrived on the scene at the Alrosa Villa club, entered through a back door and shot Gale, who at the time was reportedly holding a hostage and was threatening to reload and shoot more people. Niggemayer has been praised by his police chief for acting quickly and saving the life of the hostage, as well as potentially saving more club patrons’ lives.

There have been reports in various media outlets suggesting that Gale was distraught at the break-up of Pantera, and blamed Darrell and Vinnie for “ruining his life,” as one media source noted. But in the case of Darrell Abbott and John Lennon, no excuse is palatable, no words can possibly begin to justify these tragic losses.

Many of you have never met Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott. Some of you may not be familiar with Pantera. And that is exactly why I felt the need to write this piece. Darrell Abbott was a world-renowned guitarist that helped form a legendary band. He was also an adult nightclub owner that truly supported the industry, especially the employees and entertainers at his club, The Clubhouse, in Dallas.

But most importantly, Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott was a genuinely friendly, fun-loving, gracious man who thoroughly enjoyed life to its fullest each and every day.

Dime, I barely knew you, but I will sorely miss you. Rest in peace, brother.

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