HATE ETERNAL/ex-MORBID ANGEL guitarist Erik Rutan has issued the following statement in memory of DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott:
"I have thought so long and hard on what I could possibly say that has not already been said about the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell Abbott but I felt compelled to make a statement with the utmost respect for a true guitar god and a tremendous person.
"I had the pleasure of touring with PANTERA while in MORBID ANGEL on two seperate occassions. We toured together for 16 weeks. Those 16 weeks were life changing for me in so many ways. Being a guy who has just been content touring and recording records all these years, to have the opportunity to play arenas with one of the biggest and best metal bands out there was overwhelming, for I never thought that opportunity would ever happen yet it did. It changed my life forever. I watched Dimebag play almost every night, and every night I was amazed at the pure talent that poured out of him and the incredible emotion he possessed. Out of respect and knowing that there were always people hanging around on stage and backstage I always tried to stay out of the way. I was just so grateful and overwhelmed with the whole experience.
"One day Dimebag asked me, 'Brother, how come you don't ever come on stage or backstage to hang out?' and I told him, 'I did not want to bother anyone or get in the way.' His response was, 'You're going to play a song with us one night,' which totally made me so nervous like I had never played a show in my life. A week went by and I heard nothing about it.
"Then one night in San Jose, CA, 10 minutes before PANTERA went on, security came to get me and said I was wanted in the backstage dressing room. I literally shit my pants with wonder. Dimebag said, 'Tonight is the night brother.' He showed me 'Walk' in like 5 minutes on a totally different tuned guitar and he said, 'See you up there.' I remember not believing this was happening. I practiced and then went to the stage. I came out for the encore and he announced my name and I played with PANTERA for over 12,000 people. That was the last tour PANTERA ever did. He let me play one of his beloved guitars, the rebel flag guitar through one of his multiple stacks.
"It changed my life in so many ways and meant so much to me that someone of his stature and fame would reach out like that with such generosity and how down to earth he was. It was one of the biggest events in my life that I will never forget. I was and still am a part of an underground band, yet he treated me with the same respect he would show a musician who had won Grammys. It was life-altering. I have a video tape of the show and always pop it in once in a while to remminice on one of the best things in my life that meant so much. I dont think he ever realized how much that meant to me and I will always be grateful to Dimebag for that, as well as for Vinnie, Phil and Rex for these are memories I will always cherish.
"I send my deepest sympathies and condolences to Vinnie and the Abbott family and to PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN's family and crew for the loss of not only a tremendous guitarist, but an outstanding person. He will so be missed.
"Dimebag, you will always be a legend and a person I will never let die nor ever forget, your spirit will carry on forever!"