Photo by Randy Eli Grothe / DMN
Beer and tears flowing freely last night as thousands gathered at Arlington Convention Center to say farewell to Dimebag Darrell. I’m here for the same reason as everyone else, to give some love back... , Eddie Van Halen told the crowd. This guy was full of life. He lived and breathed Rock N Roll.
The public memorial service followed a private funeral Tuesday that Abbott’s friend Jerry Cantrell, a guitarist in the 1990s rock band Alice in Chains, described as beautiful.
Today’s really been the start of the healing process, said Cantrell, who performed at the funeral and again at the public service.
Pictures of a grinning Abbott, his long hair hanging past his shoulders, covered three big screens. Strobe lights pierced through the darkness as speaker after speaker stepped to the stage, remembering how Abbott made playing the guitar look easy and how as one friend put it he always looked at the glass as half full, figuratively and literally.
Attendees included former Pantera bassist Rex Brown, Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez, ex-Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares and Slipknot members Jim Root, Corey Taylor and Paul Gray
Eddie Van Halen shared the stage with guitarist Zakk Wylde, the two downing shots of liquor as they talked about their rock comrade.
A whole part of my life is gone, said a red-eyed Wylde, telling the crowd he hadn’t eaten in four days, instead relying on a liquid diet.
Van Halen stuck his cell phone to the microphone and played a voice mail message that Abbott left for him after a concert where both performed.
An adjective that would not be allowed on network television figured heavily in the message, as Abbott described how much he had enjoyed the concert and getting wasted afterward.
I just wanted to give you a ... call to tell you thank you so ... much, man, for the most awesome, uplifting, euphoric, spiritual rock n roll extravaganza ever, Abbott told Van Halen.
The crowd saved its loudest applause for Abbott’s brother, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, who patted a life-sized cardboard cutout of his brother holding a guitar and encouraged fans as they chanted ’dimebag! Dimebag! Dimebag!
Vinnie Paul said his brother gave everything he had every night and went down doing what he loved.
Bryan and Andrew Mamaliga:
I was at the memorial last night. It was an incredibly cool and sad event.
Me and my brother got there about 7:15 and there was already 1,000+ people waiting to get in. It was freakin cold outside.
By the time they let people in, there was another 1,000+ people behind us.
The stage was cool. On either side of the stage were posters of Dimebag from the various guitar/rock magazines. Onstage was a carboard cutout of Dime, along with a floral wreath in the shape of his guitar.
At the start of the memorial, DJ ’dr. Rock came up and shared some thoughts and memories.
Next up was the former guitar player from Grim Reaper, who shared a wonderful story about how Dime gave a 12-year-old kid his first guitar.
Jerry Cantrell, Pat Lachman, Mike Inez, and one of the Black Label Society guys came up and did two acoustic Alice in Chains tunes... The whole audience went nuts singing along... ...
After that, Zakk Wylde hit the stage, followed quickly by a surprise visit from Eddie Van Halen. Both were pretty toasted, and Eddie kinda made an ass of himself by not letting Zakk tell his ’dime story. I really think Zakk was taking it all pretty hard, you could tell he honestly felt a loss.
The saddest part of the evening was when Vinnie came to the stage. Everyone in the audience could feel his pain, as they all shouted We love YOU TOO Vinnie!!! I think everyone was really touched by his short, heartfelt speech.
A video showing the history of Dime from 1988 to present was shown, which totally rocked. Old-school footage from his high school days was shown which was way cool.
Overall, there was a lot of love in the room.
On a side note, to demonstrate the ultimate COOLNESS of Zakk Wylde: After the memorial, me and my brother went to a local microbrewery called Humperdinks after the memorial...
We walked in, and there was Zakk with his crew, just finishing dinner. I felt a little uncomfortable approaching him on such an emotional time, but went up and asked his table if I could buy them all a drink and that I was sorry for their loss.
Zakk, politely and warmly said, No thanks man, we’ve been going at it hard for about four days, but we appreciate it. I told him Sorry to bother you, I ll get out of your way. Zakk then replied, You’re more than welcome to hang with us if you would like. Being a giant Zakk fan, I damn near fell out.
They had to leave shortly thereafter, and Zakk shook my hand, asked me my name, and gave me a friendly hug while saying, Tonight’s all about Dimebag.
I ll never forget how cordial Zakk was, just like Dimebag... ..
Me and my brother had a beer and a shot of Jagermeister in Dime’s honor.