Today (Saturday, June 22) marks the first anniversary of the passing of PANTERA and HELLYEAH drummer Vincent Paul Abbott, a.k.a. Vinnie Paul, who died at the age of 54 in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas. The official cause of death was dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease.
Vinnie was buried on June 30, 2018, next to his brother, PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, and their mother, Carolyn, at Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Texas. He was laid to rest in a custom "Kiss Kasket" provided by KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley as a gift to Vinnie's family. According to The Pulse Of Radio, attendees included original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley, DISTURBED's David Draiman, NICKELBACK's Chad Kroeger, ANTHRAX's Charlie Benante, FOZZY's Chris Jericho and ROUGH CUTT's Paul Shortino.
Born on March 11, 1964 in Abilene, Texas to Carolyn and her then-husband, country singer and songwriter Jerry Abbott, Vinnie and his brother, guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, founded PANTERA in 1981 along with bassist Rex Brown. After three moderately hard-rocking independent albums, the band recruited singer Philip Anselmo and evolved into a much heavier-sounding act. Their 1990 major label debut, "Cowboys From Hell", made them pioneers of a new kind of sound that combined thrash metal riffing with grinding groove-laden rhythms and an almost industrial precision.
PANTERA became one of the most influential metal bands of the '90s, churning out classic albums like "Vulgar Display Of Power" and "Far Beyond Driven", the latter of which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. When the band broke up in the early 2000s due to tensions between the Abbotts and Anselmo, the brothers started a new band called DAMAGEPLAN.
But that came to an end on December 8, 2004, when Darrell Abbott was shot dead onstage at the age of 38 by a deranged gunman as the band performed at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio. Vinnie never spoke with Anselmo again after his brother's death, reportedly feeling that some things Anselmo said about Darrell in the press may have set the killer off.
Two years after his brother's death, Vinnie returned to music with the group HELLYEAH, which also featured members of MUDVAYNE and NOTHINGFACE. Vinnie recorded a total of six albums with the band over the past decade, including the upcoming "Welcome Home", for which he laid down his drum tracks before his death.
In the days following Vinnie's death, the heavy metal community paid tribute to the PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN co-founder.
"Can't believe it. R.I.P to our brother Vinnie Paul," ANTHRAX tweeted, while Paul Stanley of KISS — whose former member Peter Criss was one of Vinnie's biggest influences — wrote: "So sad to hear of the death of Vinnie Paul. Loved when PANTERA did shows with us and in later years Vinnie was always front and center at all KISS shows. RIP and condolences to his family."
BLACK SABBATH bassist Geezer Butler reminisced about his time touring with Abbott, calling him a "true original." "Shocked and saddened to hear of Vinnie Paul's passing," Butler wrote on Twitter. "Had some good laughs when we toured with PANTERA. Gone too soon."
"Rest in peace, Vinnie," KISS bassist Gene Simmons wrote on Twitter. "Our prayers and good wishes go to his family, friends and fans."
Gravesite photo courtesy of DrummerBart