“THEIR LOVE AL­WAYS PRE­VAILED”

In a spe­cial in­ter­view, Dime­bag Dar­rell’s long­time girl­friend Rita Haney talks grow­ing up with the Ab­bott brothers, the loss of Vin­nie and what made the duo the beat­ing heart of Pantera

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Pantera - WORDS: STEPHEN HILL

YOU KNEW BOTH VIN­NIE AND DIME FROM A YOUNG AGE. CAN YOU RE­MEM­BER FIRST MEET­ING THEM?

“We were lit­tle kids, about eight years old. They just lived around the cor­ner from my cousin.”

OB­VI­OUSLY YOU AND DIME ENDED UP CLOSE, BUT WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IM­PRES­SION OF VIN­NIE WHEN YOU MET HIM?

“Vin­nie was al­ways very well dis­ci­plined and he was al­ways fo­cused. It’s funny; he was re­ally into go­ing to this mil­i­tary cadets thing out by the air­port, a kind of sum­mer camp thing. So all of us went – me, my cousin, Dar­rell and Vin­nie, and my cousin’s mom dropped us all off. Vin­nie was re­ally into it, and he went all the time, but the rest of us lasted about one day! All the march­ing and stuff just wasn’t our cup of tea but Vin­nie… he had that busi­ness mind­set, even as kids. Dar­rell was al­ways about Evel Knievel and be­ing the dare­devil.”

WHAT WERE THE BROTHERS LIKE TO­GETHER BACK THEN?

“They did ev­ery­thing to­gether, ever since I can re­mem­ber. Even all the way un­til 2004, the whole time Dar­rell and I lived to­gether, his first phone call of the day was al­ways Vin­nie and he’d get the low­down of the day and what was go­ing on, whether they were in the stu­dio or what­ever. He was like that as a kid, too; Vin­nie al­ways took care of their al­lowances and the money they would make from play­ing

shows. He was al­ways big brother. They shared ev­ery­thing to­gether.”

DID YOU EVER SEE THEM FALL OUT?

“Of course, that hap­pens with ev­ery­one. They butted heads, but the long­est I ever knew them in an ar­gu­ment was dur­ing that last run of go­ing out for Da­m­age­plan. Dar­rell was re­ally start­ing to get up­set over the way [Vin­nie] was be­ing – no­body re­ally un­der­stood why he all of a sud­den started say­ing, ‘I’m not play­ing Pantera songs.’ Dar­rell was like, ‘Yeah, you are, you knew this is who we were, we’re not go­ing to deny peo­ple.’ Dar­rell tried to have some words with Vin­nie about it and he kinda blew him off, and Dar­rell had a lit­tle bit to drink and just got pissed off and was like, ‘I’m not go­ing.’ Vince was call­ing me, like,

‘He’s not an­swer­ing any of my calls, has he said any­thing?’ For three days, he kept call­ing me and then fi­nally, the night be­fore Dar­rell’s flight was sup­posed to leave [for the tour], he called and I was like, ‘Yeah, he’ll talk to you,’ and Dar­rell was like, ‘Al­right, I’ll be there, I ain’t gonna let peo­ple down.’ That’s the long­est I’ve ever seen them ar­gue and the worst ar­gu­ment I’ve seen them have. Other than that, if they butted heads and dis­agreed, it wouldn’t last more than a few hours. It’s like kids: you get mad at each other and then you’re back play­ing the next day. They were brothers, so no mat­ter if they dis­agreed on what­ever, the love al­ways pre­vailed.”

WHAT WAS SO SPE­CIAL ABOUT THEM THAT MADE THEM CLICK MU­SI­CALLY? IS IT DIF­FI­CULT TO PUT YOUR FIN­GER ON?

“It was mag­i­cal. It is hard to say, but Vin­nie needed Dar­rell as much as Dar­rell needed him. I think the dy­nam­ics of them both be­ing so op­po­site yet so much the same worked for them; they both needed the dif­fer­ence in each other to cre­ate that magic. They were the type that would fin­ish each other’s sen­tences; they knew what each other was think­ing.”

A LOT OF PEO­PLE WHO WERE AROUND THEM SAY THE TWO OF THEM WERE VERY KEEN ON TOUR PRANKS…

“It started with Dar­rell when we were re­ally young kids but Vin­nie al­ways got in on it, too, wher­ever he could. It grew, and Dar­rell’s pranks rubbed off on you, es­pe­cially after Dar­rell was gone. I know it sounds crazy but it all made Vin­nie a bet­ter per­son – as far as the things he didn’t pay at­ten­tion to be­fore,

he def­i­nitely did after. He made sure he got up and gave you that hug and told you he loved you, when he re­ally didn’t when we were grow­ing up. Some­times you could walk in the room and he’d never even say hello to you. [Later], he’d be a whole dif­fer­ent per­son, like, ‘Oh hey, how’re you do­ing? What’s up, Rita?’ He re­ally picked that up and made sure he kept the spirit of Dar­rell for ev­ery­body. He helped carry and pass that on, but yes, he was a good prankster, too. I think they both had it in them, but I’d say Dar­rell got you more than Vin­nie could.”

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT VIN­NIE PASS­ING?

“I’d just flown into Fort Worth – we have this le­gal thing that we’re all deal­ing with for Dar­rell’s es­tate, the gui­tar com­pany and so forth. I’d spent all night long read­ing over ev­ery­thing, I had two hours’ sleep. I came home, and then I started get­ting these phone calls from Kim [Zide Davis, Pantera’s man­ager] and I didn’t an­swer. I thought it was go­ing to be about the case. I texted

Vin­nie and said, ‘Yay, team Dime’ and I’d been hear­ing from our lawyers that I did re­ally good, blah blah blah. I was in a good place, I thought it was a good day. Kim texted me in cap­i­tals, ‘PLEASE PIcK UP’, and I an­swered at the steak­house and she was like, ‘Go out­side,’ and I did and she told me [about Vin­nie] and I just started to cry. There were a lot of things we still had left to do, it was so un­ex­pected. Vin­nie had a lot of vi­tal­ity and I’d just seen him in April. We’d just spent a cou­ple of days to­gether in Tampa and we were laugh­ing and telling sto­ries. We ac­tu­ally had a re­ally good time spend­ing a hol­i­day to­gether, and I’m glad I have that.”

WHEN Ham­mer IN­TER­VIEWED VIN­NIE HE SEEMED LIKE AN IN­CRED­I­BLY GEN­UINE GUY…

“He was al­ways so bub­bly, so full of vi­tal­ity and en­ergy, and this is not at all what I thought was on the cards so quick. It’s good to talk about it.”

HOW DO YOU THINK VIN­NIE AND DIME WOULD LIKE TO BE RE­MEM­BERED – AS BROTHERS, AS A PAIR, AS MU­SI­CIANS AND AS ICONS IN THE WORLD OF ME­TAL?

“I’d say al­ways as hav­ing a good time and cel­e­brat­ing and putting a smile on your face when you think of them. That’s what it does; it makes you smile, and when you hear their mu­sic and think of their an­tics in their videos, that’s how they were day and night. They didn’t put on a fa­cade for the cam­era, they were re­al­ity TV, that’s what they were about – mak­ing ev­ery­one around them have a damn good time. I hope that’s how ev­ery­one al­ways re­mem­bers them.”

Vin­nie, Rita and thebrother­s’ fa­ther at the Hollywood JerryRock­Walk in 2007

Dime and Vin­nie “needed each otherto make the magic” says Rita

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