Long black hair. Bandana or cowboy hat. Signature sideways sideburns, always meticulously groomed. Of the 2,000 or so EXPO attendees, Vinnie Paul was one who always stood out. Even if you didn’t know exactly who he was, you could tell he was someone.

Vinnie and Dime, special ED’s Awards Show presenters in 2003

Vinnie Paul (real name Vinnie Paul Abbott) was the veteran drummer and founding member of the legendary heavy metal band Pantera and more recently with the band Hellyeah. But as some of our readers may not know, Vinnie was also a co-owner of The Clubhouse strip club in Dallas, and had been involved with the club for over 20 years. He was a rock star, but he was also a legit strip club guy. He enjoyed coming to EXPO, and based on the three interviews and other conversations I had with him over the past 16 years, he enjoyed talking about the business of the adult nightclub industry.

Vinnie pretended to “strip” on the Expo Tradeshow mainstage

On June 22nd, Vinnie suffered what has been described a “massive heart attack” and passed away at the way-too-young age of 54. Of course, any time someone dies unexpectedly at an “early” age, it hits like a punch to the gut. What makes this doubly tragic is that Vinnie’s sudden passing comes 13 years after the assassination of his brother and best friend, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, on December 8, 2004.

Darrell was killed on stage—90 seconds into the first song of their band Damageplan’s set—by Nathan Gale during a concert at the Alrosa Villa club in Columbus, Ohio. Brandishing a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, Gale had intended to kill both of the Abbott brothers, allegedly blaming them for the breakup of his favorite band, Pantera (though, ironically, it was vocalist Phil Anselmo and his heroine addiction that actually caused the breakup more so than the Abbott brothers). Then 25, Gale had been discharged the U.S. Marines after they diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. He killed four people that night before he was shot and killed by police officer James D. Niggemeyer, and if Vinnie never got over the events of that night and the loss of his brother, best friend and bandmate, no one would blame him.

Manack with Vinnie Paul at the EXPO in 2008

Vinnie’s passing was met with shock, incredulity and sadness. And of course, social media was where this grief was showcased most prominently. What was most notable to me was how many adult nightclub industry folks posted pictures of themselves with Vinnie, many of which were taken at EXPO. It speaks to how friendly and accommodating Vinnie was at the EXPO. He took the time to talk, to take photos, to be just a regular strip club guy amongst his peers. He never acted like a “rock star” and every time we asked him to be a special presenter at the ED’s Awards Show, he stepped up and was genuinely happy to do it. Sure he was a Grammy nominated rock star — but he was also one of us.

Jeff Murtha’s Facebook post. Murtha co-owned and opened The Clubhouse with Vinnie.


The Abbott brothers, strip club co-owners and legends in the world of music with an undeniable legacy, died tragically young and left millions of fans and friends in mourning. If there’s any justice or meaning to this thing we call life, I have to believe that the brothers were united again. And in that place, the sounds of laughter and music will echo forever.




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