By Josh Simpkins
Special to the Sun
Alright, friends and neighbors, Heaven’s Hell of a Band is going to have to form two groups: classic and metal. I say this because the metal crew just got a killer new percussionist. Sadly, I must report that Vinnie Paul, the legendary drummer and co-founder of Texas metal band Pantera, passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 22, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada, from an as yet undisclosed condition. He was 54.
Born Vincent Paul Abbott on March 11, 1964, in Abilene, Texas, Vinnie was currently a member of the metal supergroup Hellyeah with vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett from Mudvayne, guitarist Tom Maxwell from Nothingface, and bassist Bob Zilla from Damageplan. The group last released an album in 2016. It was formed after Vinnie returned from an 18-month hiatus following his brother “Dimebag” Darrell’s death. Hellyeah had several dates planned for later this year, including appearances at Bud Light River City Rockfest 2018 in San Antonio, Louder Than Life 2018 in Louisville and Monster Energy’s Aftershock 2018 in Sacramento.
Vinnie formed Pantera alongside his brother, guitar virtuoso “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, and bassist Rex Brown in 1981. The band spent roughly their first decade as ardent disciples of the New Wave of British heavy metal, blending in elements of thrash and hair-metal as the decade wore on. After recording three albums in the early 80s with vocalists Donnie Hart and Terry Glaze, the band recruited singer Phil Anselmo in 1987 to form Pantera’s original lineup of Anselmo, Abbott, Paul and Brown.
Upon the release of Cowboys from Hell in 1990, their major-label debut, the band took a quantum leap towards superstardom. With tracks like “Psycho Holiday” and “Cemetery Gates,” Pantera quickly became the leaders of a new school of metal. Powered by Vinnie’s stunningly nimble double-kick work, the band turned their focus to grinding riffs and hypnotic deep-pocket rhythms that became the signature sound of Pantera. Their next album, Vulgar Display of Power (Number 10 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Metal Albums list), was a near-perfect example of what would come to be known as groove metal and a blueprint for how heavy music sounded throughout the 90s and into the new century.
However, three years after their ninth studio album, Reinventing the Steel, Pantera disbanded following a rift between the Abbott brothers and Anselmo. Following the annihilation of Pantera, the Abbott brothers formed Damageplan and released 2004’s New Found Power. Unfortunately, that band’s tenure was tragically cut short when Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a deranged fan in December 2004.
Vincent Paul Abbott was a metal maestro who will long be remembered in the annals of rock. All thoughts, prayers and good vibes go out to Vinnie’s family, who requests that the public please respect their privacy during this difficult time. Rest in Paradise, Vinnie.