December 8, 2004: Dimebag Darrell Is Killed Onstage, Leaving The Rock World Absolutely Speechless


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December 8th Marks 14 Years Since Alrosa Villa Shooting

There’s an established order that says that what happens outside venue doors stays outside venue doors and for the 90 or so minutes that a band is onstage, all is right with the world.

Until one night, it wasn’t.


The night of December 8, 2004 was business as usual for Texas metal act Damageplan. Formed in 2003 by brothers Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell Abbott, Damageplan was the brothers’ answer to the end of their band Pantera and with a brand new, debut album under their belt and a tour underway, the sky was the limit.

As they high-fived and shouted “Van Halen!” to each other – their way of saying “have a kickass show” – and headed out onto the Alrosa Villa’s stage that night, Dime and Vinnie looked towards a future that held nothing but promise, music, and endless good times on the road together.

They had no way of knowing, but that was the last time they’d see each other alive.

Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell live at Castle Donington Monsters of Rock, United Kingdom, 1994. (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)

Moments later, Dimebag Darrell Abbott was killed instantly when a deranged fan stormed the stage and shot the 38-year-old guitarist in the head. Chaos ensued as Head of Security Jeff “Mayhem” Thompson rushed the gunman, fighting him off long enough to give Vinnie Paul and the rest of Damageplan time to escape.

He didn’t survive.

Also killed that night were concertgoer Nathan Bray, who attempted to administer CPR to Dimebag during the shooting, and U.S. Marine Erin Halk, who tried to stop the shooter while he reloaded.

Seven more would be injured before a single bullet fired by Officer James Niggemeyer stopped the gunman in his tracks, killing him instantly.

As survivors struggled to process what they’d seen that night, the rock world was left absolutely speechless. How does this sort of thing happen? How is a musician brutally murdered while doing something purely meant to bring joy to the world?

How do we go on without one of our own?

ARLINGTON, TX – DECEMBER 14: Justin Mauro (L) and Betty Herrin of Orland, Florida, listen to speakers during memorial service for slain rocker “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott at the Arlington Convention Center December 14, 2004 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Paul Buck/Getty Images)

Fourteen years later, we still don’t know.

What we do know, however, is that Dime’s death shook the rock community in a way it hadn’t been since John Lennon’s almost 25 years earlier, and robbed us of a musician whose larger than life talent was surpassed only by a heart twice the size of Texas.

His is a loss that cannot be overstated, and 14 years later we remember not the way he left us or who took him from us, but the way he lived out his 38 years with us: fast, furious, and brilliant, like the music he left us with.