FANS MOURN GUITARIST DIMEBAG ABBOTT:
December 14, 2004
ARLINGTON, Texas – Thousands waited in line in near-freezing temperatures Tuesday night to pay tribute at a memorial service for slain rock star “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott.
Security was tight; guards used screening wands on grieving fans as they arrived for the public mourning of the former guitarist for the heavy metal band Pantera.
Messages such as “RIP Dime” and “Honk, honk for Dimebag, Peace in the after life” were scrawled on cars in the convention center parking lot. A high-pitched guitar solo blared from a pickup.
“A legend died on Wednesday night. I guarantee I’ll be telling my kids about this day and the day that he died,” said Skyler Smith, 18. “My heart was broken.”
Singer Jerry Cantrell of the 1990s rock band Alice in Chains said he had been at a private funeral earlier in the day, and called the service “beautiful.”
“Today’s really been the start of the healing process,” he said, adding that he was heartened by fans who came to the public memorial. “It makes me feel a lot better.”
Abbott, 38, was shot to death in Columbus, Ohio, while performing with his new band, Damageplan. Three others also were killed before police killed 25-year-old gunman Nathan Gale, described as an obsessed fan.
Fans cheered the arrival of flower arrangements in the shape of guitars and a display with the words “Crown the Moment, Crown Royal,” a reference to Abbott’s favorite brand of whiskey.
Michael Schaefer, 21, of Garland, and his wife both wore black Pantera concert shirts. “It’s still a real shock, the fact that it actually happened and the fact that someone would want to hurt him,” Michael Schaefer said.
Rick Cunningham, 48, a former lead singer for the Dallas band “Rage,” was among those who waited in the long line for the service – and one of a few who wore a suit and tie. He said he’d known Abbott for 20 years.
“It’s terrible, man. He was the nicest fella you would ever want to meet,” he said.
Abbott had formed Damageplan with his brother and drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott; the guitarist lived in nearby Dalworthington Gardens.
Bobby Ross Jr courtesy of Associated Press