DISTURBED's Mike Wengren has paid tribute to Vinnie Paul Abbott, saying that he was "personally crushed" when he heard the news of the former PANTERA drummer's passing.
Speaking to Cindy Scull of the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas radio station 97.1 The Eagle, Wengren said (hear audio below): "[Vinnie] was living both in Dallas and [Las] Vegas the last several years, and we were recording the [new DISTURBED] record ['Evolution'] in Vegas, so we saw him a couple of times. Obviously, he was a big hockey fan, and so am I, and that was one of our connections there, besides being drummers. And I saw him at the hockey game, and it was great to see him. And then to get that news [of his death] was just absolutely devastating."
The Wisconsin-based drummer, whose band performed a cover version of the PANTERA classic "Walk" at this year's Rock Fest as a tribute to Vinnie Paul, continued: "[Vinnie] was one of my biggest influences as a drummer, and as a young kid just growing up, playing and learning, I idolized him. So when we started to come up and I got a chance to meet him, I thought it was the most amazing thing; not too many people get that opportunity to meet their idols. But he was so damn cool [laughs], we became not just peers, but friends — and always stayed in contact throughout the years, and we've jammed together several times. And it was just absolutely devastating [to find out that he died]. So when we went out and played a few shows last month, it was only fitting that we pay tribute to him in some way."
Vinnie passed away on June 22 at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 54. The PANTERA and HELLYEAH drummer's death "did not appear suspicious," according to the official police report. Sources close to Vinnie told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he suffered a "major heart attack," but that information has not been corroborated yet by an official source.
DISTURBED's seventh studio album, titled "Evolution", will arrive on October 19.