Sept 29th, 2004: Dimebag and Vinnie hanging with Eddie
It was fifteen years ago when the late, great, Abbott brothers – Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul – meet Eddie Van Halen.
“We actually got to meet Van Halen right before the horrible events that lead to my brother’s death.” Darrell was shot and killed while on stage during a Damageplan performance on Dec. 8, 2004, at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. He was 38-years-old.
A few years ago, Paul told Noisecreep the fateful night he first met Eddie, during Van Halen’s 2004 tour: “So one night my manager calls me and tells me that Eddie is at The Clubhouse [Paul’s strip club in Dallas, Texas] and that he wants to meet me. I couldn’t believe it, man! So I dropped what I was doing and went straight to the club.
“I meet Eddie and we start talking about music right away. After about 5 minutes into the conversation, he says to me, “Man, I feel like I’ve known you for a lifetime. We have so much in common!” I couldn’t believe it. Later that night, I put Eddie on the phone with my brother and they spoke for over 90 minutes.
“Van Halen were playing a show in Dallas the next day, but Damageplan had a show in Boston already booked, so we couldn’t make it. Anyway, we got back from doing that and Eddie calls and tells me that they’re playing a show in Lubbock and if we wanted to come and fly out to the city, he would send a limo to the airport to pick us up. So we do it and get to see Van Halen do a sound check from the stage. Me and my brother were like kids in a candy store. I remember being on the plane, on the way back home from the Van Halen show, and my brother saying to me, ‘Man, if this plane crashed, and I died tonight, I would be OK with it because we got to meet Van Halen,'” laughs Paul.
During Pantera’s early years, the Abbott brothers cut their teeth playing Van Halen covers. “We also played songs from Metallica, Def Leppard, Slayer, Motörhead, Exodus – you name it. I think that’s one of the reasons Pantera got so good.”
One of the Van Halen songs Paul used to play along with was 1984?s “Hot for Teacher.” The track famously starts off with a wild drum intro that sounds like the roar of a motorcycle engine. “Yeah, I played it, like every other drummer did who was around back then. But we all played it wrong [laughs]. You actually need an electronic drum kit to do it the right way. The intro part has a little jazz roll in it that has a really cool feel. But I remember playing that song in Pantera’s club days and it was always so much fun.”
Paul hoped that HELLYEAH and Van Halen could launch a tour together in the future: “We were supposed to play with them last fall, down in Australia, but the tour got cancelled because they weren’t quite ready yet. But we’re always ready for them if they’ll have us. If Eddie, Alex, Dave or Wolfie are reading this right now – “HELLYEAH is ready!”
Van Halen had such a good time with Paul that he made sure they got together again when their schedules found them in the same city shortly thereafter, and this time Darrell got to meet him. “And then we had to fly out and play this thing called Locobazooka in Boston, and they had some shows, and [Eddie] wanted us to come and see him. And Eddie sent a limo to pick us up, which was very cool. And we came in, and he brought us right up on stage and hung out at soundcheck and everything. And the show was amazing. And I’ll never forget. We got on the plane, and when we were flying back to Dallas, my brother looked at me, and he goes, ‘Man, you know what? If this plane was to go down in a crash right now, I’d be okay with it. I finally got to meet the dude that made me wanna play guitar.’ It was really special.”
Unfortunately, Darrell never got another opportunity to hang out with Van Halen. Roughly 10 weeks later, he was murdered onstage in Columbus, Ohio. In a lasting sign of deep respect, Eddie buried the famous black-and-yellow tape-striped guitar pictured on the back cover of Van Halen II with Darrell. Fourteen years later, Vinnie Paul passed, in 2018.