Monday, December 8, 2014

12.8.14 Heroes of the Day: John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell

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Names: John Lennon and Darrell Abbott
Ages: were 40 and 38 at the time of their deaths
Occupations: rock stars
Last Seen: in the great beyond
Awarded For: making lots of great music in just a short amount of time
In 1972, Don McLean talked about the day the music died, February 4, 1959 in his immortal hit, "American Pie".

True, three rock heavyweights, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, Richie Valens and Buddy Holly died in that fateful crash that day, but modern audiences acknowledge that December 8th is the new "day the music died". But it wasn't a plane crash that killed John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell Abbott 34 and 10 years ago today respectively; it was caused by obsessed fans with guns.

Of course, Lennon's death was in the hands of Mark David Chapman, an insane fan who grabbed a gun and shot the former Beatles leader outside of his apartment in New York City. He plead guilty to second degree murder and is in jail on a life sentence.

Darrell Abbott was the lead guitarist of Pantera, the 1990's heavy metal band best-known for their hit albums Vulgar Display of Power and Cowboys From Hell. Many tracks from their albums, including "Cowboys From Hell", "Cemetery Gates" and "Walk" all became radio hits. Darrell co-founded the band in the early 1980's with his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul. Their most-popular lineup included the Abbott brothers alongside bassist Rex Brown and lead singer Phil Anselmo. While Anselmo's vocals helped to roughen the band's gritty image, it was Dimebag's rough guitar licks that helped to make them one of the toughest bands in the 90's.

However, Pantera disintegrated in the early 2000's because of the rift between the Abbotts and Anselmo. The Abbotts formed Damageplan, and they were on the road to being one of rock's most-respected bands with their hit single "Save Me" in 2004. The group went on tour, but made an unexpected last stop at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, OH.

Nathan Gale, an obsessed Pantera fan who blamed the Abbotts for their breakup, went up on stage and opened fire at the band with a 9mm Beretta, killing Dimebag and three others in the venue. He shot Dimebag thrice in the head, with the third shot killing him. The band's head of security, Jeff Thompson was also murdered in the melee. Seven police officers arrived at the Alrosa, with officer James Niggemeyer behind the stage. Niggemeyer shot Gale several times, killing him. Many in the rock world considered Niggemeyer a hero for instantly killing Gale, but the damage was done. Nathan Gale killed Dimebag Darrell, and he deserved to be killed.

Some believed that Gale, an obsessed fan who served in the military, was angry at Pantera's breakup, but there was also a belief that Gale was angry that Pantera allegedly stole one of his songs.

The good news is that Nathan Gale's gone, but Mark David Chapman is still around, rotting in jail. He's even made several Christian books, capitalizing on the fact that he killed a well-loved rock star. Thankfully, Vinnie Paul has since formed a new band, Hellyeah, and they've done very well.

Both John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell died way too young. John was a devoted father and a man of peace. Dimebag never had kids, but his legacy will live on in his music. What's even more sad is the question as to how the insane can get their hands on guns and blow people apart. Why? Why can't people vote out the assholes who allow morons to own these weapons? It's sad that corporations - not people - tell us what to do and not us.

Because of that, we only have memories.   


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