Vinnie Paul, the heavy-hitting drummer for Pantera, one of the more popular heavy metal bands of the 1990s, who witnessed his brother killed onstage by a fan in 2004 during a show they were performing, died June 22 in Las Vegas. He was 54.
Vincent Paul Abbott was born March 11, 1964 in Dallas. His brother Darrell followed two years later. Their father, Jerry Abbott, was a country songwriter and producer who owned a recording studio and thus, opened the door for the brothers foray into music; though it wasn’t country, but rather the inevitable lure of heavy metal, hard-rock bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Van Halen that led Vinnie and Darrel to eventually form Pantera in 1981, while still in their mid-teens.
Vinnie, younger-brother Darrell Abbott [guitarist]–originally nicknamed “Diamond,” then “Dimebag”– Rex Brown [bassist] and Terry Glaze [vocalist] emerged into the glam scene with four albums, before recruiting singer Phil Anselmo, to replace Glaze in 1986, and changed musical directions. The new direction was the right one, though Pantera did not find widespread success until the release of Cowboys From Hell in 1990, which also became an appropriate moniker for the Texas-based rockers.
Though glam was their start, Pantera passed on the paint, makeup and spandex–reminiscent of the other metal groups of the time–and instead, made their statement as a powerful, groove-driven band highlighted by Anselmo’s screaming vocals, Dimebag’s dazzling guitar work and Vinnie’s Goliath backbeat on the drums. They garnered four Grammy Award nominations, and despite actually not winning, Pantera’s cult following made them a success on a grand scale.
The band broke up in 2003, due in part to Anselmo’s substance abuse, and the brothers took the opportunity to formed Damageplan. While performing at a club in Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 8, 2004, an emotionally unstable 25-year-old fan forced his way onstage with a handgun, shooting and killing Dimebag mid-performance, along with three others–a bodyguard, a club employee and a bystander–before being fatally shot by a police officer. It was reported that the killer had been despondent about the breakup of Pantera. Vinnie was not injured in the attack, though he stopped performing for more than a year due to the impact of losing his brother.
Not being able to stay away from drums and music, along with keeping his brother’s spirit and memory alive, Vinnie joined, recorded and toured extensively with Hellyeah–a heavy metal ‘supergroup’ that included several well-known musicians.
Aside from drumming, Vinnie was also an entrepreneur and businessman, successfully owning several companies, from strip clubs and bus rentals to publishing and labels.