On Saturday, June 23, 2018, TMZ helped break the news that Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott had passed away. Within hours, social media was full of condolences and other well-wishes to the family and friends of Abbott. The passing of Abbott seemed to come from nowhere, as there were no previous reports of the acclaimed drummer being in poor health.
Beyond Vinnie Paul Abbott being a son, brother and boyfriend to the people closest to him, he happened to be one of the most important drummers within the history of heavy metal. Pantera songs like “Walk” and “Cowboys From Hell” defied prior expectations as to what radio-ready metal should sound like. The drumming, of course, had much to do this with this since the drums kick in well before the vocals and lyrics do on the aforementioned singles.
Pantera’s “Walk” is a must-hear metal classic.
While Abbott is primarily thought of as the drummer of Pantera, he accomplished plenty more within his years, professionally speaking. After Pantera disbanded, Abbott was part of Damageplan — alongside brother “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott — Rebel Meets Rebel with David Allen Coe, and Hellyeah. He was also the co-founder of the independent record label Big Vin Records.
As a full disclosure, I never had the pleasure of meeting Vinnie Paul Abbott. The closest I came to that is interviewing Dimebag Darrell’s widow Rita Haney last year. But, music aside, what especially strikes me most about the loss of both Abbott brothers is how beloved they were by musicians and fans alike. Ex-bandmates aside, if someone was telling a story about one of the Abbotts, odds are that they involved something amusing and/or heartwarming. As Ms. Haney told me in our interview, “before there was Jackass, there was Pantera. So fortunately, the fun-loving legacy of the Abbotts continues to live on via the Dimevision home video series, of which more editions are to be expected.
The cover artwork for Hellyeah’s fifth studio album, Unden!able.
Sadly, we all have an expiration date, but in the case of Vinnie Paul Abbott, he leaves behind a rich discography — which has reportedly sold over 60 million albums worldwide — that continues to be appreciated on a worldwide basis. As Pantera has inspired generations of metal musicians, I have no doubt that the legacy of the Abbotts and Pantera will be kept alive and continue to put smiles on faces.
In turn, rather than offering condolences to those who knew Vinnie Paul Abbott, I instead say to celebrate the guy and what he stood for both on and off the stage, knowing that he will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Check out this video of 10 Unforgettable Vinnie Paul Moments.