Over the weekend, the metal community lost one of its most important members in Vinnie Paul of Pantera. The drummer, who along with his brother Dimebag Darrell and bassist Rex Brown, laid down some of the dirtiest grooves in metal history, the perfect template for lead vocalist Philip Anselmo to snarl over. That Texas group known as Pantera were one of rawest, heaviest bands to break into the alternative rock mainstream in the 80s and 90s. Paul was 54 at the time of his death on Friday, which those close to him are calling the result of a major heart attack. Officially, no cause of death has been given.
The metal community poured its heart out to the late drummer, with tributes both on stage and on social media. Most notable was the tribute offered up by Anselmo, who had feuded bitterly with his former bandmate in the post-Pantera days. The metal frontman, who is currently active with several bands like Scour and his Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals, wordlessly posted the picture of a vigil candle on his Instagram page.
While Pantera was not part of the big four of thrash (Pantera was always way more of a groove metal band), Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante paid his respects to the fellow icon of metal drumming. In his post he mentioned that Paul was the glue that held Pantera together. He also complemented the band by saying that Pantera re-taught him about metal.
It’s nights like these that make you think of all your friends and loved ones but especially the ones you don’t see anymore. Vinnie was the Glue In Pantera ( to me) , those motherfuckers retaught Me about Metal and most of you too! The numerous shots, the hugs, the finger snapping, the damn hotdog machine in his kitchen, All VINNIE! God dammit I’m fucking upset I love you bro @vinniepaul3
Both Randy Blythe and fellow drummer Chris Adler of Lamb of God posted about Paul’s death. Blythe mentioned how Paul always treated him and the rest of Lamb of God like family (the kindness of Paul seems to be a recurring theme in these tributes), while Adler posted a picture of him wearing his Washington football club attire alongside Paul donning a Cowboys T-shirt.
Very sad news this evening. This man always treated me & the guys in my band like family, from the very first time we ever met him with his brother at a Damageplan gig in Texas– whether backstage at a show, on his crazy tour bus, at his club, at his house, he was always a gracious host to us. He just wanted people around him to be happy. I didn’t see Vinnie much the last time we played a gig together because I heard he was in a very foul mood– this was highly unusual for him. Why was he in a foul mood? Because we were playing a big festival in Chicago, he had bought a TON OF FOOD to grill in the parking lot for everyone (as usual), & the fire marshall came and shut him down before he could start the bar-b-que. That’s the type of dude he was– he just wanted to make sure people were having a good time, & he took steps to make that happen. He also did me a very solid favor when I was in some very serious legal trouble a while back by writing a detailed letter to a judge explaining what had happened to his brother & the need for good stage security– that wasn’t an easy thing for him to do, but he did it anyway because he was a true friend and knew I needed some help– I’ll never forget that, & I made sure he knew I appreciated it. He also never minded when I got in his face with my camera– I took this photo with a 50mm fixed lens at a festival we were playing with Hellyeah in Iowa in 2016– that means I was basically inside his drum kit. When he saw me poking my head in there, he just turned, flashed me this grin, & kept on rocking. I love this photo– Big Vin smiling and doing what he did best. Rest In Peace, Vinnie Paul. You’ll be missed. BIG LOVE.
Vinnie… I told you 100 times I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing had you not changed the world. I was fortunate enough to get to know you as a man and as a true friend. You made me feel good about me. You taught me how. You showed me kindness and allowed me in. I will never forget. Thank you! Safe travels, my friend. R.I.P. @vinniepaul3 #VinniePaul
Avenged Sevenfold related an anecdote about meeting Paul for the first time, specifically how excited The Rev was to meet heavy metal royalty. Again the band talks of the warmth that Paul displayed as they made a new friend, one that would eventually perform on stage with them at Revolver Golden Gods, which they called a career highlight (in a career full of highlight material). Also worth noting, the photo the band posted to their Instagram includes a photo-bomb courtesy of Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez.
I remember how excited ‘The Rev’ was when he first met you in Dallas after a show in the early 2000’s. You grabbed him around the neck and said he was a kick ass drummer even though he borrowed some of your chops! We were in shock that Jimmy had met our all time favorite drummer so we all ran to the bar to meet you and proceeded to drink the night away. You were warm and engaging. Our friendship lasted for many years and eventually resulted in a killer rendition of “Mouth for War” at the Revolver Golden Gods, a career highlight. Vegas will never be the same without you. Dallas will never be the same. Metal will never be the same. We have been lucky enough to meet some of our idols and call them friends. You were one of the greatest of all time and a great friend. Today we mourn. – A7X
Alice Cooper kept it simple and classy, talking about his sadness at the news of Paul’s passing. He added “his impact on heavy music is immeasurable.”
Terribly saddened by the news of Vinnie Paul’s passing. Vinnie was a beloved fixture in the rock and metal communities and we will miss seeing him out on the road. His impact on heavy music is immeasurable. Rest In Peace Vinnie, condolences to your family, friends and fans.
— Alice Cooper (@alicecooper) June 23, 2018
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, perhaps one of only a handful of more-famous metal drummers than Vinnie Paul, added his sentiments on Twitter. In the post he praised Paul’s warm personality and inviting nature, promising that one day he would take another shot of Crown Royal and play some air hockey with the fellow drummer.
Thank you for all the good times, Vinnie…your incredible hospitality and warm vibe was infectious and inspiring. Here’s to another shot of Crown Royal and a next level game of air hockey down the road! RIP, brother. Much love. pic.twitter.com/ehNXoO88jY
— Lars Ulrich (@larsulrich) June 23, 2018
Meanwhile, a few bands took the time out of their sets to offer tribute to the late drummer. Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains explained before the band began to play “Nutshell” over the weekend, that they normally dedicate the song to their own late lead singer Layne Staley, but this time it was “for Vinnie Paul.”
At Hellfest, another band that reached success around the same era as Pantera, Megadeth, offered a song in tribute to Paul. Dave Mustaine said, “This next song we’re gonna do for you, we played it last night for the first time in almost 20 years; we haven’t played this song for a very long time. And we played this and we dedicated it to a friend of mine — all of ours — who passed away. This song is dedicated to you, Vinnie. This song is called ‘My Last Words’.” The song is from Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? from 1986.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna