Message From Fans To DIMEBAG: 'Riff In Peace'

John Austin of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has issued the following report:

"Dimebag" Darrell Abbott didn't live to see his 39th birthday. Now, the BIC flame of fandom is kept burning at the metal-guitar hero's hometown resting place.

Abbott, who attended Arlington High School and lived in Dalworthington Gardens, was gunned down Dec. 8 during an onstage attack in Columbus, Ohio.

Since then, visitors from around the world have come here to pay tribute at his grave. Abbott, with his brother, Vinnie Paul, created the ground-breaking group PANTERA before founding DAMAGEPLAN, their final band.

Today would have been Abbott's 39th birthday, and the tributes, including a planned motorcycle ride to the cemetery, continue.

"There was a report of a lady who flew all the way from Japan," to visit the grave, said Moore Memorial Gardens general manager Mike Wilfong. "At least daily there's going to be someone there."

Workers check the site daily and find everything from stuffed bears and beer cans to notes urging Abbott to "riff in peace."

One note, from "Tony and Adam," was left even before the Bermuda grass that covers the grave began growing. "We came all the way from Chicago. Just wanted to say thank you."

A brown bear had a photo of Abbott and a girl on a collar around its neck. Written on the photo: "Merry Christmas."

Abbott's body occupies an unmarked site next to his mother's grave in a family plot, but Wilfong said a "spectacular" memorial is in the works.

Meanwhile, fans are welcome to visit, provided they behave.

"I was very impressed at how respectful everyone has been," said Wilfong.

The site occupied by the body of the man believed by most to be President John F. Kennedy's killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, is arguably Tarrant County's best-known grave. Oswald's grave at Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park in Fort Worth, is a few miles west of the guitarist's resting place.

But there are no ghostly lip prints on Oswald's grave, no guitar picks, no dimes or rain-streaked photos of an admiring fan with the man.

There's no cross made of a broken drumstick, no shot glass.

"Dear Darrell," read one note. "We met a few times but hardly spoke. I looked up to you as a guitar god and as a person..."

Nor is there a rain-stained maroon Hallmark card on Oswald's grave with this message: "Thank you not just for what you did, which was wonderful, but for the way you did it."

A handwritten card read: "Thank you Dimebag for all the years you've brightened other peoples lives with your Texas-size beard!!

"Forever missed. Forever loved."

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