We pay trib­ute to one of the great­est drum­mers in metal’s his­tory. rIP, Vin­nie Paul.

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Hammer Contents - WORDS: DOM LAW­SON

You only have to look at the count­less trib­utes from mu­si­cians and friends on so­cial me­dia to know that Vin­cent Paul ab­bott was one of the good guys. From for­mer tour­ing bud­dies to close friends, ev­ery­one seems to have a photo of Vin­nie Paul ei­ther bran­dish­ing a pair of bar­be­cue tongs with a big grin plas­tered across his face, or rais­ing an ex­u­ber­ant toast to who-knows-what along­side any num­ber of sim­i­larly ec­static fel­low rev­ellers. If you hung out with Big Vin, you went home feel­ing bet­ter about the world.

the shock­ing news that the leg­endary Pan­tera, Da­m­age­plan and hellyeah drum­mer had passed away sud­denly at the young age of 54 broke on June 22, send­ing a huge rip­ple of sor­row and dis­may through the metal world. hav­ing al­ready lost Vin­nie’s younger brother, Dime­bag Dar­rell, in the most bru­tal and tragic of cir­cum­stances, the un­ex­pected loss of yet an­other leg­end seemed al­most too much to bear, and yet a huge out­pour­ing of love and grat­i­tude for Vin­nie’s life and mu­sic swiftly took cen­tre stage, via that re­morse­less suc­ces­sion of pic­tures of the big man vis­i­bly hurl­ing him­self into his life­long role as life and soul of the party. Yes, he was one of the great­est metal drum­mers of all time, a mu­si­cian and song­writer of vast in­flu­ence and renown and an icon to a gen­er­a­tion of heavy mu­sic fans, but the most im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber about Vin­nie Paul was that he lived to make other peo­ple happy.

Vin­nie Paul was born on march 11, 1964 in abi­lene, texas. Sur­rounded by mu­sic from birth, it was per­haps in­evitable that he and his younger brother Dar­rell would even­tu­ally set their hearts on ca­reers in rock’n’roll. But even their hugely sup­port­ive fa­ther Jerry (a coun­try mu­sic song­writer and pro­ducer) will have been taken aback by the ex­tra­or­di­nary chem­istry that de­vel­oped be­tween the broth­ers. aged 17 and 15 re­spec­tively, they formed Pan­tera in 1981 and spent the decade that fol­lowed ex­hibit­ing an in­fec­tious ded­i­ca­tion to per­form­ing live and spread­ing the joy that both men so ob­vi­ously found in their mu­si­cal en­deav­ours.

the first four Pan­tera al­bums un­ques­tion­ably lacked the ag­gres­sion and in­ge­nu­ity that later turned the band into stars, but Vin­nie and

Dime’s shared love of Kiss, Van halen, South­ern boo­gie rock and the then-flour­ish­ing thrash metal move­ment was a unique propo­si­tion from the start, prin­ci­pally due to the sub­lime in­ter­play be­tween the broth­ers. When ev­ery­thing fell into place for the epoch-shat­ter­ing Cow­boys From Hell in 1990, it was Vin­nie’s drum­ming that first grabbed the at­ten­tion: there it was, that ir­re­sistible, neck-wreck­ing groove. metal would never be the same again.

“that isn’t some­thing you can learn,” Vin­nie told Metal Ham­mer in 2007. “We would start writ­ing and one of us would take off and we knew how to fol­low each other. We had that magic chem­istry that broth­ers have. that [groove] re­ally came nat­u­ral. I don’t think we ever worked on groove. We grew up in texas, lis­ten­ing to a healthy dose of ZZ top, and they had this South­ern groove. We had that in our play­ing, and added the to­tal metal vibe over the top, I think that makes the dif­fer­ence.”

ex­o­dus took Pan­tera on tour in 1990, and vo­cal­ist Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza no­ticed that chem­istry be­tween the pair. “as broth­ers, they had this mind thing,” he tells us. “they grew up lis­ten­ing to cer­tain stuff, and it in­flu­enced them so deeply that they both be­came le­gends at what they did in the same band. It was very much like the all­man broth­ers.”

Pan­tera’s vast suc­cess in the 90s was ar­guably against the mu­si­cal grain: while the me­dia frothed over grunge and then nu metal, Vin­nie and his band­mates were re­in­forc­ing the supremacy of balls-out heavy fuck­ing metal, ef­fort­lessly re­defin­ing the en­tire genre with 1992’s Vul­gar Dis­play Of Power, scor­ing a Num­ber one al­bum in the US with the ridicu­lously bru­tal Far Beyond Driven in 1994 and gen­er­ally travers­ing the globe with tow­er­ing con­fi­dence and a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion for hard and fast liv­ing. and while Dime­bag and vo­cal­ist Phil anselmo un­ques­tion­ably mo­nop­o­lised col­umn inches and in­ter­views, Vin­nie re­mained the world-con­quer­ing quar­tet’s rhyth­mic and spir­i­tual back­bone.

Sepul­tura’s an­dreas Kisser toured with Pan­tera for the first time in 1994, as the tex­ans reached their com­mer­cial peak, and con­firms that it was a great time to be alive. “I just feel very lucky to have ex­pe­ri­enced it first hand, to be to­gether with them at their best and learn from them about how to treat peo­ple,” he states. “they were so pro­fes­sional on­stage and the sound would shake you to your core. I would get up and jam Walk with them on­stage ev­ery night, it was ‘Wow!’ you know? to feel that power… Vin­nie was so high on the drums, he felt like a drum god or some­thing! It was so cool to be around that at­mos­phere.”

even on Pan­tera’s flawed but still killer fi­nal al­bum, 2000’s Rein­vent­ing The Steel, the drum­mer’s idio­syn­cratic style was ev­ery bit as fun­da­men­tal to the mu­sic’s power as his sib­ling’s mind­blow­ing arse­nal of riffs and so­los. as a re­sult, when Pan­tera dis­in­te­grated in 2003, it sur­prised no one that the ab­botts would con­tinue play­ing to­gether. they formed Da­m­age­plan later that same year and set about build­ing an­other legacy, tour­ing with their cus­tom­ary en­thu­si­asm and sim­ply get­ting on with the job of be­ing mu­si­cians, play­ing and par­ty­ing hard. as ever, Vin­nie Paul looked per­ma­nently de­lighted at the way his life had turned out and de­ter­mined to in­vite ev­ery­one to join in.

on De­cem­ber 8, 2004, Vin­nie Paul saw his brother gunned down in front of him on­stage in colum­bus, ohio. the hor­ror, dev­as­ta­tion and loss Vin­nie ex­pe­ri­enced that day are sim­ply unimag­in­able. had he hung up his sticks and aban­doned mu­sic for­ever, his global army of fans would have un­der­stood, but within two years it be­came clear that for this life­long mu­si­cian, the best medicine was get­ting back up there and kick­ing some ass, this time with new band hellyeah.

“that was the most hor­rific loss I’ve ever had in my life and I didn’t know if I was ever go­ing to get back into play­ing mu­sic,” Vin­nie told us in 2012. “It wasn’t some­thing

I was gonna go search­ing for. But hellyeah fell into my lap. right away, we had great chem­istry. I thought, ‘Yes, I can still do this!’ and I have to do this. I have to keep do­ing it for me and my brother. he’d kick my ass if I got com­pla­cent and didn’t do it any­more. this has been the ul­ti­mate ther­apy. I just love play­ing mu­sic. It’s such a big part of my life.”

With vast amounts of good­will pro­pel­ling them along, hellyeah hit the stu­dio to record their first al­bum in Dal­las, texas, in 2006. For Vin­nie Paul, it was an ex­tremely bit­ter­sweet ex­pe­ri­ence.

“the first night in the stu­dio was very strange,” he told To­tal Gui­tar in 2014.

“You walk in the door and there’s all of Dime’s amps, ex­actly like he had ’em left, with po­lice tape around them be­cause he didn’t want any­body fuckin’ with his shit. all the pic­tures on the wall, the gold records, the notes – his hand­writ­ten notes from the Da­m­age­plan demos be­fore we left to go on tour – it was all re­ally sur­real, just a big blur. once all the weird­ness went away, it felt like Dime was right be­hind us driv­ing us all the way.

I felt re­ally good about it, and it re­ally helped me to breathe nor­mally.”

“vin­nie was a drum god”


“we had that magic chem­istry that broth­ers have” VIN­NIE PAUL WAS AL­WAYS THRILLED TO BE


across five well-re­ceived al­bums, hellyeah may never have had the same im­pact of Vin­nie’s for­mer band, but they went some way to­wards up­hold­ing Pan­tera’s high stan­dards of heav­i­ness and rhyth­mic in­ven­tion, Vin­nie’s drums an end­lessly ex­hil­a­rat­ing fo­cal point. If noth­ing else, fans were just ec­static to be able to see the great man in ac­tion. of course, the dawn of the in­ter­net age en­sured that ru­mours and spec­u­la­tion about a pos­si­ble Pan­tera re­union were an om­nipresent thorn in his side. he re­mained un­equiv­o­cal about the sit­u­a­tion through­out: no Dime­bag, no Pan­tera.

“No. my brother is not here. If he was still around, there was al­ways that ‘if’, but with­out him there is no way,” he told Rhythm in 2007. “I’ve got a lot of rea­sons. I’m happy do­ing what I’m do­ing.

I re­ally en­joy play­ing in hellyeah.”

that love for his band was ev­i­dent on the stage, and he was al­ways quick to embrace metal in all its forms, cham­pi­oning new bands and bring­ing the com­mu­nity to­gether. m. Shad­ows re­mem­bers him as an early sup­porter of avenged Seven­fold who stuck with them dur­ing their the ups and downs.

“No one em­braced us as a band quicker than Vin­nie,” he says. “he even flew out to be at the rev’s fu­neral, which spoke vol­umes about what kind of guy he was. I’ll miss play­ing bas­ket­ball at the Palms in Ve­gas.

I’ll miss play­ing black­jack all night af­ter watch­ing car­rot top per­form.

I’ll miss see­ing you on the road and bar­be­cues at your house. Go now and be with your brother.”

Dave mus­taine also fondly re­mem­bers hang­times with Vin­nie, from the last time me­gadeth and hellyeah toured to­gether. “We played this crazy place in Wis­con­sin and, as usual, Vin­nie was hold­ing court af­ter the show,” he re­calls. “he was cook­ing up the most de­li­cious bar­be­cue, and you could ei­ther go and eat the shitty cater­ing or go and hang out with all the hellyeah guys. that was where the fun place was. It was al­ways love, food, drinks, fun, laughs – that’s how I’ll re­mem­ber him. that, and one of the big­gest beards since mr. t!”

an in­cal­cu­la­ble loss to the world of heavy mu­sic – in fact, to mu­sic in gen­eral – Vin­nie Paul touched so many peo­ple with his mu­sic, his love for life and his de­vo­tion to spread­ing great joy and a lit­tle bit of drunken chaos. Not just a mu­si­cal rev­o­lu­tion­ary, he also proved that the life of a rock’n’roll megas­tar was some­thing that could be en­joyed by all. metal will miss him ter­ri­bly. READ OUR EX­TENDED TRIB­UTE TO THE LEGACY OF VIN­NIE AND PAN­TERA IN A SPE­CIAL FEA­TURE IN NEXT MONTH’S Metal HaM­Mer,


Pan­tera and Slayer: surely toomuch metal for one photo

hellyeah helped Vin­nie healaf­ter his brother’s mur­der

the af­ter­life Vin­nie and Dime­bag:it won’t know what’s hit

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