It’s been five years since the metal world was changed forever. Five years since we sat in stunned silence at the tragedy that befell one of the greatest metal guitarists of our time. On December 8, 2004, Dimebag Darrell and three others were abruptly and brutally taken from us. It’s a moment I will NEVER forget.
As I sat on the couch with my boyfriend (who is now my husband) watching TV, the phone rang around 11pm. It was strange that anyone was calling this late. My boyfriend answered and it was his mother in total hysterics trying to figure out if we were OK. I saw the look on his face change immediately as he grabbed the remote and changed the channel to the local news. Looking at the TV I thought, “Hey, why is the Alrosa on TV?” Then the little details started coming and my jaw dropped to the floor. The Alrosa is five minutes from our house. My husband grew up there (literally). We go to shows there all the time. Our friends’ bands play there. We were supposed to be there that night. What the fuck just happened at our bar?
At that time, there were no confirmed details about who was dead. We just knew there was a shooting and people were dead. Witnesses were giving their tear filled accounts to the press and my heart just sank. I just kept thinking to myself, “Don’t let it be Dimebag. Don’t let it be Dimebag…” But the next morning, my worst fears were confirmed.
As I drove to work, I listened to Vulgar Display of Power, cried and hit my steering wheel over and over and over again. Throughout the course of the day, I found out that we had friends there who were on the stage when it happened…who witnessed it all. One of the guys who died, Erin Halk, was a good friend of one my friends. Eventually it hit me that we were actually supposed to be at that show but for whatever reason, we didn’t make it. We were a couple of the lucky ones who missed this carnage, but the effects of this on our lives were like we were right there in the thick of it.
Pantera was one of those bands that changed my life. I saw them on the Cowboys from Hell tour opening up for Skid Row. Then I saw them live twice a year for the next few years. They are one of my all time favorite bands. To have one of the members brutally killed and taken from us WAY too early at a venue that I frequent on a regular basis by a mentally unstable asshole who deserved his ending, was devasting for me and for the metal community. It’s a piece of music history that didn’t need to be written.
On this day, let’s celebrate Dimebag, his life and his music. His guitar playing and his music changed the face of metal and changed lives. Let’s celebrate the lives of the others who died in this tragedy: Jeff Thompson, Nathan Bray and Erin Halk. And let’s thank Officer James Niggemeyer for putting an end to this before it got any worse.
Five years later…and it still hurts like a fresh wound. R.I.P Dimebag. We miss you.