HELLYEAH frontman Chad Gray has released the following statement regarding the passing of his bandmate, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott:
"First off, I'm sorry to all of you for our loss. It's consumed me, as I'm sure it has many of you.
"I'm sure you can all understand this has been incredibly hard and impossible for me to wrap my head around. I just don't want to believe it's real.
"I want to tell all my crew I love you guys so much. We couldn't do what we do without you. And I want to say thank you to everyone around the world for your kind words, blessings and condolences to all of us through this tragic time. We love you all! And to all of my friends in and out of the music business, thank you for reaching out to me. It means more to me than I could ever express. I don't know what I would do without you. So thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It really has taken 'the heavy metal family' to another level.
"This has been one of the toughest things I've ever had to face in my life! I'm so confused, sad and as helpless as I've ever been. I'm at a loss and completely devastated. But I'm trying. It's the equivalent of an emotional riot in my head and in my heart as I write this. But I'm trying to focus on anything good. I know Vinnie would want that. And the good things are my memories of him. His smile, his infectious laugh and his personality that beamed light.
"Him and his brother Dimebag lived to make people smile. That's what I'm gonna miss the most.
"I just want to say, thank you Vinnie Paul! For saving my life, for your music, for your endless generosity, for accepting me into your life, for creating our music that touched people, for being proud to be in HELLYEAH and for always treating me like a brother and more importantly for treating me like a friend. So many times I've looked back to see you just bashing away and have to pinch myself. It was unbelievable! And for all of those things you will live forever in my heart. And I will never let you go!!! I will always love you and go to the end of the earth to carry the torch for you and Dime's legacy.
"R.I.P Vincent Paul Abbott. I know you're with Dimebag right now smiling down on us. Even in all this emotional darkness, that thought alone makes me smile right back. I LOVE YOU! Your eternal friend, Chadnesss"
HELLYEAH's fifth album, "Unden!able", came out in 2016.
Not long before his death, Vinnie laid down the drum tracks for HELLYEAH's sixth album at The Hideout recording studio in Las Vegas. It is not presently clear when those recordings will see the light of day.
Vinnie Paul and his brother "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott co-founded PANTERA. When PANTERA broke up in 2003, they formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage. He was 38 years old.
Vinnie Paul passed away on Friday (June 22) at the age of 54. The former PANTERA drummer apparently died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas. No cause of death was given at press time, but sources close to the drummer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he suffered a "major heart attack."
Vinnie's body had been turned over to the medical examiner to determine an official cause of death, after which his body will be flown to Texas to be buried between his mother and brother.