Vinnie Paul, the drummer, and co-founder of the metal band known as Pantera has died in Las Vegas, Nevada at age 54. News of his d***h was initially released on the official Pantera Facebook page with no cause of d***h listed, stating only his association with bands Pantera, Damageplan, and Hellyeah along with a statement requesting that the privacy of his family be respected.
The social media statement simply said – “Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul has passed away. Paul is best known for his work as the drummer in the bands Pantera and Hellyeah. No further details are available at this time. The family requests you please respect their privacy during this time.”
Paul was a major free speech advocate. After the Charleston church s******g in 2015, calls to remove the Confederate flag from public life intensified. The s*****r was Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist. Roof took the lives of 9 African-Americans. Pictures of Roof waving the Confederate flag surfaced, which led to those on the left calling for anything with the flag on it to be removed from online stores such as Amazon & Ebay.
Paul’s band Pantera used the Confederate flag on merchandise frequently. When asked about the call to ban the flag, Paul told a music reporter: “All I’m going to say is it’s a big knee-jerk reaction to something that happened. It’s unfortunate that people are like that — they want to point a finger at something, you know.”
He continued: “Honestly, this country was built on freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and when you can no longer do that, then it is no longer based on that, you know. It’s a touchy thing, you know, and that’s really all I’m going to say about it. I just think that it doesn’t follow what the country was built on [and] what it was based on. To me, that blows, but that’s how it, is man.”
Along with his brother, Dimebag Darrell, Paul formed Pantera in 1981.
The group found mainstream musical success with singer Phil Anselmo. The band earned four Grammy nominations for four best metal performance Grammys for the songs “I’m Broken”, “S*****e Note Pt. I”, “Cemetery Gates”, and “Revolution Is My Name” as well as charting nine albums on the Billboard 200, including its 1994 album Far Beyond Driven, which debuted at No. 1 on the chart. Featuring well-known songs such as “Walk” and “Cemetary Gates” the group was considered to be one of the driving forces behind groove metal and a signature sound that defined the 1990s metal scene. Considered a sub-genre of heavy metal, groove metal takes the intensity and sonic qualities of thrash metal and plays them at mid-tempo, with most bands making only occasional forays into a fast tempo.
Abbott spoke of the demise of Pantera at the height of its biggest success after Anselmo turned to heroin to combat his back pain in 2014 to Blabbermouth, stating –
“This is when the drug thing came about and everything started going sideways with him. That’s when the band and him started separating and he started demanding his own tour bus. We’d see him before the show and then he’d be gone, and you never knew which Phil you were gonna get. You might get the pitbull that we all knew and loved, or you might get some dude who was completely whacked out on heroin and didn’t do what he was supposed to do.
It did become difficult on that touring cycle, but also we’d never had a break, so we could never get away from it. A lot of elements started creeping in, particularly with him. I mean, we were all in some pain. I had to deal with tendonitis, but I never turned to drugs to pacify it.
None of us had any clue that he was even thinking of doing heroin — we used to be the most anti-drug guys in the world — and when he OD’ed in Dallas, when we played our big homecoming show to 18,000 people, the first thing that came to my mind was that he’d passed out because of the heat. When I saw him laying on the ground, blue, I was, like, ‘What the fuck?’ If it hadn’t been for our drum tech, Kat, chasing down some paramedics, Anselmo wouldn’t be around anymore. And it really would have been a shock because none of us had a clue. It definitely went from being all hunky dory to being a lot more work and not knowing what was gonna happen.”
After Pantera broke up in 2003, Paul and his brother formed another band known as Damageplan. In 2004, the newly formed band was performing in Columbus, Ohio when Dimebag Darrell was shot and k****d along with three other people by a young fan. The tragedy took place on the evening of December 8th at the Alrosa Villa nightclub. The s*****r, Nathan Gale, 25, was k****d by a Columbus police officer minutes after the violence erupted. A stocky former Marine, Gale was reportedly upset that Pantera had broken up – last year – and may have blamed Abbott for the band’s acrimonious split. The deaths came on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the m****r of John Lennon.
The other victims were 23-year-old fan Nathan Bray, Damageplan crew member Jeff “Mayhem” Thompson, 40, and club employee Erin A. Halk, 29.
Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell, Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul Perform Together for the Final Time https://t.co/qnQOIX4lDW
— Dale James (@DaleJamesBand) June 23, 2018
Paul was most recently the drummer for the heavy metal band known as Hellyeah. Formed the summer of 2006, the band also included Mudvayne singer Chad Gray and Tom Maxwell of Nothingface. Their first album was recorded at Chasin’ Jason studio in Dimebag Darrell’s backyard. The self-titled album was completed in roughly one month and released on April 10, 2007. It entered the Billboard 200 at number 9, and went on to sell 45,000 copies. The most recent album released in June 2016 is Unden!able.
Paul was a Texas native and stated repeated his music was inspired by his birthplace.
“The Texas thing is part of it, growing up on a healthy dose of ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan, but I also was a metal-head from day one. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Kiss, Van Halen, all my favorite bands had really great grooves to their music,” Paul told OnlineDrummer.com in an interview a few years ago.
Jeff Rainforth contributed to this story.