Former SKID ROW frontman Sebastian Bach has issued the following statement in memory of DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott:
"My relationship to this sick series of events goes way back, some 18 years. I joined a band from Detroit called MADAM X back in 1986 and the very first place I ever played on the road, outside of Detroit, was the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio. This is my first memory of touring in America. I vividly remember staying at the Red Roof Inn down the street and then rocking the Alrosa . I was 17 at the time and was living my dream of touring the United States, and the Al Rosa Villa was the very first stage I ever set foot on being on the road in the USA.
"The very first time I ever heard of Dimebag Darrell was way back in late 1986 or early 1987. As the MADAM X tour progressed across America, we played in Ft. Worth Texas at a place called Savvy's, a club legendary for separating the of-age & not-of-age by a chain-link fence, just like in the BLUES BROTHERS. Yes, bottles were whipped and smashed into the fence nightly at this place. We were just about to go on stage when Godzilla, the bass player for MADAM X, ran back into the dressing room, seven foot tall with hair that literally touched the ceiling, as he screamed into the room, 'Dude guess what!!! Fucking PANTERA is here tonight watching the show!! They are all sitting at a table right in front of the stage, I can't fucking believe this!!!' The reason for his excitement was simple. Already, even with their previous lead singer, PANTERA was legendary on the club circuit in the southern states. Even then, almost 20 years ago, Dimebag's innovative guitar playing and showmanship was already the standard to which other guitar players were to be measured. They already had a sizable fan base and reputation as one of the best metal bands you could ever see on a stage. We were extremely excited and honored to jam for this bunch of highly respected musicians. Little did I know at the time what was in store in the future for myself, and the band PANTERA, and how our lives would intertwine in the years to come.
"The next time I encountered Dime was in my old guitar player Scotti Hill's house.We were writing the song 'Mudkicker' for our forthcoming record. At the time, we were in one of the biggest bands in the world. We had already begun to headline arenas on our own on our first record and we were planning our first USA headline arena tour at the time. The material we were writing for 'Slave to the Grind' was a lot heavier than our first album and we wanted to take out the heaviest, coolest band on the road that we could find. I remember Scotti pulling out 'Cowboys From Hell' at his house on a songwriting break. He said, 'Dude, check out this band, I really dig them,' and that's when I checked out the album sleeve, as he put it on the stereo. Loud. I immediately remembered the band from the MADAM X days, but I had never listened to them before.
"I couldn't believe my ears . As the opening guitar riff to 'Cowboys From Hell' came out of the speakers, I knew we had found the band we were looking for to come on tour with us. This was like a new kind of JUDAS PRIEST meets ZZ TOP meets VAN HALEN divided by SLAYER equals its own kind of thing. I remember cranking the album and smiling to myself, 'I cannot wait to help introduce this fucking band to North America!' I knew they were gonna blow up huge as soon as the public at large got a chance to feel their power.
"So we made the decision. SKID ROW was going to bring PANTERA on their first North American arena tour. I remember the first show like it was yesterday. It was New Years Eve '91/'92 in New Orleans, at this arena that was completely circular and I remember watching PANTERA kick ass for the first time that night. As a metalhead first and foremost myself, it was an absolute dream to stand on the side of the stage every night witnessing PANTERA's rise to fame, night after night, city after city. To have those crazy fuckers as my friends was something I will never forget. Everyone knows about the 'lust for life' that was a legendary part of Dimebag's life. Well, let me say that anyone who was there can attest to the fact that we set the fucking standard for 'living it up' on the SKID ROW / PANTERA tour. Tony Wiggins, the bus driver turned backstage legend of MARILYN MANSON fame and PANTERA lore, got his start in this business how? By being Sebastian Bach's personal driver. Tony was my bus driver on the 'Slave' tour and spent every night driving me across the USA, many times with Phil Anselmo, or my road crew, or other crazy freaks 'unwinding' with me on the way to the next city. To read about Tony's exploits in the MARILYN MANSON book makes me feel like a proud papa. Big Val Bichekas; PANTERA, ALICE IN CHAINS, and now Ozzy's personal security guard? The first job Big Val ever had in rock 'n' roll was — you guessed it — Sebastian Bach's personal security guard. Val met PANTERA on the 'Slave' tour and when Ozzy was looking for personal security, Sharon asked Big Val, 'Who have you done security for?' He answered, 'Sebastian Bach was my first. PANTERA was second.' Ozzy hired him right away, and has employed him ever since. I don't know why his resume says so much to others about his experience! Well, if you ever partied with Dimebag you would know why.
"The SKID ROW / PANTERA tour. So much to say, a lot that can't be remembered. But due to video tape a lot of these insane moments still exist on tape. Dimebag was pretty much always, or 90 percent of the time that I was with him, with a video camera in hand. Three nights ago I watched 'Vulgar Video' for the first time in over 10 years, and I was astonished to find the full version of both bands doing 'Cold Gin' on there, PANTERA in complete KISS garb. Wow. Also the PANTERA / SKID ROW baseball game — a direct example of Dimebag's hilarious prankster personality at work. What actually happened that day was SKID ROW completely destroyed PANTERA on the baseball field, by at least 20 runs, which wasn't hard because they were all sporting the Black Tooth Grin by early afternoon! Hey it was a day off! But when I played 'Vulgar Video' for the first time I remember holding my head in my hands, laughing, due to some major Dimebag digital editing magic!! The baseball segment on the video shows PANTERA kicking the shit out of SKID ROW, 33 - 8, saved for posterity on the shelf of your local Sam Goody's, for all time, all over the world. Unbelievable. Devious. Funny as shit. Some of the best times of our lives.
"Denver Colorado. Dimebag is running around the arena with his video camera, as usual. On the road now for a couple of months, my throat feels kind of tight and we have a 'rock doctor' in house to check out my pipes. Dimebag runs up to me in the hallway and screams 'DUUUUUUUUUUUDE, what the fuck, are you seeing the Dr. or what? What the fuck?' with his vidcam omnipresent. I tell him 'Yes, I am on my way up the hall to see the doc.' Dimebag: 'CAN I FILM IT?' Me laughing, 'Sure, dude, knock yerself out!' What a nut! So we get to the Dr., who sits me down on the table and gets his stethoscope and selection of mirrors out to stick down my throat. But as he goes to shove this long mirror thing down my neck, there is one thing in the way — Dimebag Darrell. 'DUDE, HOLY SHIT, MAN, YOU GOTS-TA SEE THIS!! I have your complete vocal cords, close-up, on video.' I am sitting there with my head tilted all the way back, mouth open as wide as it can go with a Dr. shoving a mirror into me on one side, with Dimebag Darrell shoving his camera down my throat on the other side. The Dr. says, 'OK, Sebastian say aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh,' and as I do so, Dime screams out, 'Dude, that shit is TIGHT!! I got your chords on close-up it looks fuckin' wild!' He was focusing his camera right on the mirror that the Dr. was using to look at my vocal chords. Every gag, choke, and cough that I did that day was captured by Dime on film. That was Dimebag. Taking a mundane event and turning it into something fun, worth rockumenting, making a cool little memory of something you would otherwise never remember. I have 'seize the day' tattooed on my arm in Latin. Dimebag Darrell seized every day like there was no tomorrow. No matter how hung over he was!
"Also on 'Vulgar Video' is the shot of PANTERA having a fucking bar-b-q, right in front of the stage while we were doing our show! My memory of that night, in Hannibal, Missouri (I think) was watching Dimebag on his side of the stage open the show. Right when they got to the ending of 'Domination', one of my favorite songs, as they go into that crushing half-time riff at the end, I remember banging my head as hard as I could but not looking around the backstage, and by mistake slamming my head straight into the side fill, as Dimebag ripped out that riff. I saw stars and felt a knot rise up on my skull the size of a bowling ball. I though I might have a concussion or something, but fuck it, we never canceled a show that whole tour and weren't gonna. So I chilled till we went on stage, kinda dizzy. Then as I was on-stage I look into the first row. Before that there was a good 15 feet of sand, we were playing an outdoor show on some sort of beach. In front of the barricade in the 'pit' was Dimebag Darrell, the rest of PANTERA, and my wife Maria all sitting around ........ a bar-b-q!!! Dimebag and Phil were actually cooking hot-dogs and pouring Tequila shots and handing them out to the audience, crew, and band on stage as well! I thought i might be hallucinating because of smashing my head during PANTERA's set, but no. There I am singing '18 & Life' as Dimebag squirts ketchup and mustard all over his beef frank, and as I get into the song I look out at Dime looking straight into my eyes offering me a hot dog mouthing the words, 'Duuuuuuuude! You want a bite of this delicious wiener bro, c'mon!!!' as everyone is laughing their guts out and my wife is next to Dimebag doing shots of tequila and having potato salad. Then in 'Youth Gone Wild', in the drum breakdown, seeing the whole crowd singing the words, holding up, in unison, ...... hot dogs! Thanks Dime, I do remember they tasted good!!!!
"My wife got along great with Dime. I can't remember where, some bar in the USA, but Rita, Dime's girl, was there, wearing John Lennon style rose-tinted round mirrored glasses, only with a pot leaf design on each eye. She gave me the shades as a present at the end of the night, which was very cool. During this night, Maria, my wife, had a drinking contest with Dimebag. There is some dispute as to what happened next. I remember Maria and Dime doing 33 shots of Tequila — between them both. Maria, however, seriously remembers — and do not try this at home — her and Dimebag both — doing 33 shots of tequila, each! I think this is physically impossible, but this was over the course of a full evening, and our tolerance was way up back then, so while I hope I am right and Maria is wrong about this, I must admit that if anyone could do this it would have to be Dimebag Darrell!!!! 'Getcha Pull' indeed!!!!!
"All this mayhem was not without consequence. When we all checked into the hotel in Philadelphia (I think), I had my own bus with Tony Wiggins and Big Val. Someone called my big clunky cellphone (a rarity in those days) and informed our bus that we would not be checking into the hotel that we were on our way to. Both bands had been kicked out of the hotel before I got there. The story I got was that Snake and Dimebag each did a tab of fucking acid, and as the tour managers were checking into the hotel, Dimebag took a knife to one of the leather couches in the hotel lobby, ripping it to shreds and getting both bands permanently banned from the premises! A lot of crazy shit went down in those days and a story like this was just par for the course on this tour.
"A month or so into the tour, PANTERA released 'A Vulgar Display Of Power'. Prior to this, the band was touring with us without a new album to support. But when 'Vulgar' came out after touring the USA with us for a month or so, the album came straight into the Billboard charts in the top 40 and remains to this day one of the greatest albums of all time. The day after it came into the charts, we were playing Vancouver BC at the PNE and Phil walked straight into our dressing room, 'Hey Bierk. I want a leather couch, full lights, full stage, sound check, blah blah blah.' He was joking around with a list of demands due to the 'new level' that he was now on. It was hilarious and we were all laughing but the point was made. PANTERA was now a big fucking band and from here on out, it was nothing but onward and upward for PANTERA.
"Dimebag had a 4-track recorder on the road with him at the time. I can remember many nights in his hotel room, getting drunk & recording songs. One particular highlight was Dimebag's version of 'Slave To The Grind' that he recorded on his own, re-titled 'Krell & Dykes'. 'KRELL & DYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYKES' went the chorus. Most of you know what dykes are, maybe some of you know what krell is, but Dime made a version of 'Slave To The Grind' with lyrics describing these two areas of interest on this particular tour that was truly a moment in music I wish you all could hear! He gave me a tape of it over 10 years ago, I hope I still have it. If you don't know what krell is, I am not going to tell you! But for those of you with a nose for this kind of thing, I hope one day I can find my copy of Dimebag Darrell's 'Krell & Dykes' and when I do I will post it on the net if it is not too incriminating!! We also had one night where I sang a ballad of Dime's into the 4-track as the sun was coming up. We were so drunk I couldn't stop laughing and Dime too, I just remember him saying 'C'mon, Bierk!!! I KNOW you can do it!!!' But both of us were so drunk I remember more laughing than singing going on that night. Still I know we did at least three tracks of vocals, harmonies and doubling etc., even at 7-8 am with 12 hours of drinking in us, Dime was ready to do what he did best — create rock'n'roll music like you never heard before.
"After the SKID ROW / PANTERA tour, my next major involvement with Dimebag was a band that we formed together. Named 'SEBASTIAN BACH'S ROCK BUDS', we started the band after I was asked by High Times magazine to play at a benefit in Manhattan at the Limelight. All proceeds would go to the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML). I thought this was a cool idea and they said I could play with whoever I wanted. So, first on my list was Dimebag Darrell. I called him up and he said 'Sure dude. Name the time & place and I will be there! Let's get Rex on bass!' So Rex Brown joined up, along with Bam Bam McConnell on drums and Snake on guitar. Andy McCoy from HANOI ROCKS also came up for a tune, although Dimebag refused to jam with him! The majority of the set was SKID / PANTERA; we did 'Slave', 'New Level', 'Walk', 'Monkey Business', and 'Cowboys From Hell', I think. I have this show on video in perfect condition and it is obviously something I treasure now. Dimebag came up 2 or 3 days before the show and stayed at my house. Rex stayed at Snake's. We rehearsed for the gig at SIR in Manhattan. I remember rehearsing for the gig in 'rehearsal mode', which was doing the songs but not putting alot of sweat into it. Dimebag said to everyone, 'What the fuck is this? Where is the sweat? The fire?' I said to him something lame like, 'Oh, it's just rehearsal dude.You wanna rehearse like we are actually on stage, that's cool.' Dime shot back at me 'IS THERE ANY OTHER FUCKING WAY???' I will never forget him saying that. I totally understood what he was saying and ever since then there is no 'rehearsal mode / stage mode' bullshit. Dime did it full out all the time: 'IS THERE ANY OTHER FUCKING WAY???' Not for Dimebag Darrell.
"Dimebag was also one of the most of the professional persons in the business. Yes he could out drink you under the table and into the gutter, but he also firmly believed that there was a time and a place for everything. We were all doing all sorts of shit back then, but I can remember Dimebag pulling me aside somewhere saying, dude, you 'wake & bake' don't ya? C'mon, I know ya do. I used to do that shit myself. Have a bong right next to the bed, and hit that shit as soon as I fucking woke up. But I learned you cannot do that shit dude! For real! You get a fax or a phone call or something and you are too high to deal with that shit!! That shit is not good dude!!' The fact that he would pull a friend of his aside to try and help them if he thought they needed it was a testament to the fact that Dimebag cared about others. You hear a lot about how much the man loved to party, but I also remember him being strict about putting things in their proper place. Having his shit together at all times was ultimately way more important to Dimebag than just being shitfaced 24/7. The man could not create the music he did or put on the shows he did without being at the top of his game at all times, which Dimebag always was.
"1998. I am on my very first tour of the USA as a solo artist. We are playing Pittsburgh PA at a place called Graffiti's. I get the message, PANTERA is coming to the show tonight! This is totally cool, I am on the road trying to re-establish myself & here come some of my old buds to cheer me on. Shit doesn't get any better than this. But wait... it does! Vinnie Paul shows up at the gig and gets pretty drunk, big surprise! Then he comes on stage at the end of the set and grabs the mike and screams 'Hey Pittsburgh!!! This motherfucker took us on our first ever arena tour of the USA!!!' Big cheer. Then he says something totally unexpected. 'And we are gonna take this motherfucker on his first fucking arena tour!!!!!!!!!!!' The place goes nuts. I look at my bandmates and we all look at each other in disbelief. I start to laugh, because I don't know whether it is Vinnie talking, or the vats of Crown Royal he has consumed over the evening. For me to go on tour in arenas in my solo band in the USA was a big fucking deal. We had no record out or even a label at that time. The only reason for PANTERA to take us on the road was simple — rock & roll, and a friendship that went far beyond normal music business corporate sensibilities.
"When I got back home, I could not believe my eyes. Right there in the fax machine, as I walked in the front door, was a fax from PANTERA's booking agent with three weeks of arena shows in the USA that they wanted my solo band to open! Vinnie told me that he told Dimebag about seeing us in Pittsburgh, and Dime said 'Let's bring that fucker out!' as a kind of 'thanks' for us bringing them out in 1992. I will never, ever forget this act of generosity on the part of PANTERA. For a band to ignore to industry to the point that PANTERA did is something that I doubt we will ever see again. To put me on stage in front of 20,000 people a night in 1998, like I did for them in 1992, is one of the highlights of my life.
"On the road with me at the time was Jimmy Flemion of THE FROGS on guitar. He made THE DARKNESS look like Perry Como in the stage costume department. Jimmy would come on-stage in full 7-foot green sequin wings, making him look like a giant, which accentuated his frame — the man stands 6' 6" tall with ease. To go out on-stage every night looking like a heavy metal Liberace in front of PANTERA, the most hardcore fucking audience you could ever play for, took gonads of steel. The last night of the tour, in Dayton Ohio @ Hare Arena, I turn around and what do I see? Dimebag Darrell, in his own custom made full 7-foot green paper mache wings, flying around the stage looking like Mothra on acid. He had spent all day backstage making his own set of Flemion wings, then rocked along side us in a paper mache 7-foot wingspan. I read that the shooter, who shall remain nameless, attended this exact show in 1998, in Dayton, Ohio. That makes me sick. To know one of the most fun nights in my life was actually shared with this scumbag watching us blows my mind. It is hard to think about. Also, what is it about Columbus? Not only was it the first place I ever played on the road, it is the exact city where my run as Jesus in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' came to an unexpected end. I also talked to Rick, the owner of the Alrosa, on a cellphone the night before the play ended. Things seem to start and end in Columbus. Weird, but perhaps worth mentioning.
"After we left the PANTERA tour in '98 Dimebag still kept in touch. When we played Dallas in a club in the Deep Ellum district, I turn around backstage before the show & who is standing there in the (cramped) quarters but none other than Dimebag Darrell! He has brought along Dave Williams, the late lead singer for DROWNING POOL, two PANTERA crew dudes, and 3 or 4 members of the Dallas Stars hockey team. Everyone is doing shots (trying something new!) and me and Dime are catching up before the show. He asks me if it's ok if he films the show. 'Sure', I say. Then halfway through the show, Dave Williams comes onstage and rips right into his famous 'Sebastian Bach impression!' This dude had me down better than I do myself! Dimebag was the camera man, on his back onstage filming me doing me, and Dave Williams doing me, together onstage, running between our legs and jumping around trying to get the best shot. We had a kickass time that night and Dime told me the band fucking rocked. I remember him really checking us out and giving me opinions etc. after the show. The man cared, plain and simple.
"Around 1999 I was called by producer and friend Michael Wagener to record some songs for an upcoming Randy Rhoads tribute album. He told me to contact guitarist friends of mine to see if they wanted to participate. Again, Dimebag Darrell was at the top of my list. We called him up and I got him on the horn and he was totally into the project. We collaborated on the song 'Believer' and it is one of the most treasured moments of my career in the studio. Dimebag's lead totally shreds, of course! I am just glad I got to record at least one song with the best metal guitar player of all time. Wish I could have done more!
"Dimebag was also not afraid, ever, to tell it like it is. I remember being at his club in Dallas, one night after a show. He was rolling his eyes at me, drunk, like he wanted to tell me something. Finally at the end of the night, I said to him 'Dude what up? You wanna tell me something?' He kept rolling his eyes and then said to me — loud — 'Duuuuuuuuuuude, you know why people talk shit behind your back dude? Because they don't fucking understand you!' I could tell he thought this was important to tell me. 'But you know what, mutherfucker? I am so crazy that I UNDERSTAND YOU! Yes I fucking do! FFFuuccckk!!!!! I UNDERSTAND your crazy ass, man!!!!' He slobbered into my face. But I could tell he meant what he said. He was telling me that he was so nuts that he actually even understood me, which was a backhanded way of telling me he dug what I did and for me to keep on doing it. He was a smart guy and said alot of heavy things amidst an insane world of rock'n'roll fantasy. As someone whom I respected as a fan, and as a friend, it meant a lot to me for him to say shit like that to me.
"Which is why I always cranked his music to get psyched for a show. Two days before he died, we were playing Istanbul, Turkey for the first time. After the show, we had a six-hour drive to the next town, Ankara, Turkey, where we had a gig on December 8 (Ralph Santolla's birthday, and the night Darrell and John Lennon were killed). On the way to the show, at about four in the morning, we stopped by the side of the road to get gas and something to eat. Unbelievably, they had about 30 cassettes for sale. One of these cassettes, on the side of the road in Turkey, was PANTERA's 'Far Beyond Driven'. This was crazy we thought, 'Holy Shit' we all exclaimed, 'They sell fucking PANTERA cassettes on the side of the road in Turkey, how crazy is that!!' In retrospect, it is quite strange that PANTERA was there in amongst mostly Turkish music cassettes. Needless to say we bought the tape and played it on repeat till we got to Ankara at around 8 am. I remember drifting off to sleep looking outside the window looking at the Turkish countryside, listening to 'Becoming' thinking how fucking cool Dimebag's guitar sounded. 24 hours later, he would no longer be alive on this planet. It still makes no sense...
"My favorite Dimebag Darrell memory of all was when he was staying at my house for the 'Rock Buds' gig. It was late morning in my house and I was awoken by the delicious smell of bacon being cooked downstairs. I got out of bed to go find Dimebag and wake him up. I went downstairs, and then to his guest room, but I could not find Dimebag. On my way back downstairs to the kitchen, I peeked my head into my son Paris' room, who was about 7 at the time. There was Dimebag Darrell, sitting in a little kids' toy chair, playing my son's miniature Gibson guitar, which was plugged into his mini Marshall Stack! 'Hey, Dime' I said, 'Dude, c'mon downstairs, breakfast is ready bro!! Maria made french toast and bacon let's get it on!!!!!!!' Dimebag said to me, 'Hold up, bro!! I am doing something here, hold it up! Hang on one second I am teaching your boy somethin'!!' He had been in my sons room showing him guitar riffs all morning. He thought this was an important thing to do, and the memory of Dimebag sitting in my kids room showing him guitar chords is etched in my mind forever.
"We all went downstairs, me, Dime, and Paris, and along with Maria, we enjoyed a home cooked breakfast of french toast, maple syrup, bacon and coffee. He loved the meal and let us all know how much he appreciated our hospitality. I remember it like yesterday. Because even though he was the greatest metal guitar player ever, he was also something even more important and impressive than that: a great human being. Someone you would be proud to have at your dinner table. Someone you could trust with your own children. That was Dimebag Darrell. A classy, talented, one-of-a-kind guy with 'Hulk Blood' and the Ace Frehley solo album cover tattooed on his flesh.
"A friend. A God. Stronger Than All.
"I Remember You Dimebag Darrell! You are an inspiration to me the rest of my life.
"Love & Respect, Sebastian Bach"