NICKELBACK bassist Mike Kroeger spoke to Australia's Silver Tiger Media about last year's passing of PANTERA and HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. The 54-year-old musician, who saw his brother, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, killed onstage by a fan in 2004, died in June 2018 of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease.
"The story of Dime and Vinnie, it's a pretty tragic story," Mike said. "The truth is that I think Vinnie gave up a lot when he had to witness his brother being murdered. I think he lost a lot of his life. And I really felt like he was so sad that he didn't really wanna be alive anymore. He really struggled until the end; it never got better for him. It was a really horrible experience, obviously, seeing your only brother get murdered onstage while performing. But then, following that, he had his band, he played in HELLYEAH, and he did some things, but I don't think anything could distract him from how sad he was. He struggled terribly with it after Dime was killed; he really had a hard time. So it was kind of tragic from the beginning. And [the 14th] anniversary [of Dimebag's death] just went by a few days ago [in December]. I keep in touch with the guy who was the responding police officer [James Niggemeyer] who had to take out the shooter that day. He sends me a text message every year on that anniversary. It just went by last week. And ever since that day, I don't think Vinnie was the same ever again, unfortunately. I think it broke him. And that's a terrible, terrible thing. And it was really hard. Because Vin would come out and see us play — he came out and saw us play in Vegas and stuff. It's just sad. He was really sad."
Mike also spoke about the personal friendship he and his bandmates had with the Abbott brothers, saying: "It was so fun to know those guys. They were one-of-a-kind, larger-than-life personalities, just how you'd imagine, and liked the odd drink, as we know. And would definitely serve up a few drinks to you. Generally speaking, it was enough to have you carried out of whatever institution you might be in. You're probably getting wheeled out of there. I ran for my life at one point. The last time I saw Dime, he was trying to incapacitate me with alcohol, and it was working."
In 2005, NICKELBACK recorded a song called "Side Of A Bullet", which was inspired by the death of Dimebag. NICKELBACK frontman Chad Kroeger spoke to Launch about the first time he played the track for Vinnie Paul. "I called Vinnie, I wanted to get his blessing, and I play him the tune and I'm telling him that it's this very PANTERA-inspired riff," Chad said. "He was into it. He was digging it over the phone, and then he says, 'You know what, dude? You gotta write one for Dime.' And I said, 'Well, I wasn't quite sure how to lead into this, but that's what the song's about, and I kind of want to get your blessing on it.' And he's, like, 'Brother, of course you have my blessing.'"
"Side Of A Bullet" featured a previously unheard guitar solo from Abbott that was edited together from outtakes off various PANTERA albums.
The song was written shortly after Dimebag was killed by a disturbed gunman during a December 2004 DAMAGEPLAN concert in Columbus, Ohio.
NICKELBACK is continuing to tour in support of its ninth album, "Feed The Machine", which was released in June 2017 via BMG.