Sitting down in an intimate setting with one of the greatest metal guitarists of all time surely doesn’t come across too often. But that’s exactly what went down on June 3rd, 1993, in Arlington, Texas. The man in question was the inimitable Dimebag Darrell, the late lead guitarist of groove metal heads Pantera. Dimebag was hosting a clinic session for his sponsor, Randall Amplification, in his hometown in The Lone Star State.
The entire clinic session is available to watch online and features a super enthusiastic Dimebag casually chugging away at some classic Pantera riffs, including ‘Cemetary Gates’ and ‘Cowboys from Hell’. He regularly opens the floor up to questions from the audience, and though they are a little hesitant and shy at first, they are soon captured in the spirit of Dimebag’s infectious and warm nature. And sweetly, even Dimebag’s own mother attended the event, to which Dimebag said, “be sure to strap her up, double good.”
The audience’s examination primarily consists of tech questions like “what strings you do use” and “what effect do they have on your playing”. Someone also rather comically asks, “How’d you get your beard red?” To which Dimebag replies his usual answer on how he dials in his guitar tone, “Just cranked it up, tightened it up a little bit, put some colour it in.”
Dimebag Darrell was born Darrell Lance Abbott in 1966. He is the second son of Jerry Abbott, a famous country music producer. After learning to play the guitar at age 12, he was influenced by Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and most notably, Kiss, regularly practising whilst standing in front of the mirror wearing Kiss-style makeup.
Pantera formed in 1981 after Darrell’s older brother Vinnie joined the band on the condition that Darrell could too. After an initial period of performing as a glam metal outfit – with the band performing in makeup, hairspray and spandex – and releasing three full-length albums, Pantera recruited Phil Anselmo on vocals and developed a heavier metal sound, first noted on 1988’s Power Metal.
From there, Pantera helped birth the genre of ‘groove metal’ – particularly on 1990’s Cowboys from Hell – which was influenced by thrash but played at a slower tempo with elements of southern rock. Even heavier albums followed in Vulgar Display of Power (1992) and Far Beyond Driven (1994), which featured hardcore-inspired vocals from Anselmo.
Band tensions, mostly due to the behaviour of Anselmo, who had become addicted to alcohol, painkillers and heroin, as well as isolating himself from the other members of the band, led to the eventual demise of Pantera, and they split in 2001.
Whilst playing in a new group, Damageplan, with his brother Vinnie, Dimebag was tragically murdered during a live performance in 2004. The band were playing at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio, when Nathan Gale, a fan of Pantera, rushed onto the stage and shot Dimebag several times with a pistol. Dimebag was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gale also killed Jeffery Thompson, Damageplan’s head of security, Damageplan fan Nathan Bray and an employee of the nightclub, Erin Hann, who had all been trying to diffuse the situation. It is said that Gale had been suffering from schizophrenia at the time and had been upset at the separation of Pantera.
The ‘Dime Clinic’ shows us two things. Firstly, Dimebag Darrell is a crazy good guitarist and one of the best metal guitarists ever to grace the earth. He just seems to play so effortlessly, yet precisely. The second is that he is ultimately just a regular guy, captured here in his hometown, with a laid-back attitude. Dimebag is happy just to be there, answering questions without the slightest hint of pretension.
He appears as the metalhead friend you had in school who did not alienate himself from other kinds of people due to their music taste. He’s the affable kind of guy who gets on with everyone; who can sit down with you and shoot the breeze whenever you fancy. For these reasons, he remains sorely missed in the world of metal.
Check out the full clinic video below.