The Metal Mentor
Those who knew him best say Dimebag's character was a stark contrast to the bone-crushing brutality of his guitar prowess: His was a warm, inviting soul. The guitarist wasn't pretentious in the slightest, despite his success, intimidating presence and metal renown. He took everyone on equal terms, and welcomed those he met into his world without reservation, as if they'd always been part of it. There was much to be learned from Dimebag, who'd traversed the globe and performed for millions but never let it go to his head. To Dime, everyone was a friend, and he was always offering advice and encouragement to the still-developing metallers his thrashing was so instrumental in motivating.
Doc Coyle - guitarist, God Forbid: "We were fortunate enough to meet him right when we did our Gone Forever album, which we were recording during the summer of 2003, and we were doing the mastering sessions in New York. Damageplan just happened to be recording there at the same time. We were taking a lunch break and eating pizza and Dimebag just shows up and goes, 'Hey, man. What's up, guys? I heard there was some heavy metal kicking in down here. Thought I'd come by.' We were stunned. He came in and he listens to a song, and at the end it had a total Pantera rip-off. And he caught it. He was like, 'Hell yeah, man — "Domination," man.' We're like, 'Yeah, we're stealing your riffs.' And he said, 'No, man — not stealing riffs, we're sharing riffs.' ... The whole metal scene owes a big debt to Dime and Pantera. There hasn't been a band like them since. In metal, you had Metallica and you had Pantera."
Ken Susi - guitarist, Unearth: "On the Headbangers Ball 2 Tour, I wandered into the Damageplan dressing room ... [and] Darrell grabbed me and sat me down. He handed me a bottle of Crown Royal and said, 'Gityerpull, son,' and we sat there and talked about life. I asked him a ton of questions about Pantera and everything else going on at the time. I never met a more positive dude with a great outlook on life. That talk made me a better musician and a better person."
Dez Fafara - frontman, DevilDriver (formerly of Coal Chamber): "The first time [Coal Chamber] ever toured with them, we got on our tour bus and it was covered in Pantera posters. And in each one of our bunks was all their merchandise, for all of us, and a big greeting card from Dime that said, 'Welcome to the tour. Can't wait to hang out.' That was the ultimate for me. That was a real gesture, and I've never experienced a gesture like that in 10 years from another band."
Brian Fair - frontman, Shadows Fall: "He told me once that 'as soon as you ain't smiling and you ain't got a drink in your hand, it ain't a rock and roll show.' The only reason he ever picked up a guitar was to have a good time. A lot of people forget that after a while, because it's easy to get caught up in the bullsh--. But when we toured with Damageplan, at that point in his life, he didn't need to be on the road to make money. He just couldn't stay at home. He wanted to be out with his brother and his boys, rocking onstage every night for the kids that came to support him. That's all that mattered to him. They were probably losing money on that tour, but he didn't care. It inspired me to see someone who had been there and back, still loving every minute of it and doing it for the sheer joy of it. If that doesn't inspire you to go out and kick as much ass as possible, I don't know what will."
Joe Altier - frontman, Brand New Sin: "In July of 2002, we were playing Dallas with Fu Manchu, and I noticed while we were playing — there were maybe 100 people there — Dime, Vinnie and [Damageplan bodyguard Jeff 'Mayhem' Thompson, who was also one of Gale's victims]. ... It was kind of freaking me out that these guys were there, watching the show. We went in the back room afterward and we were just chilling out and all of a sudden Dime walks in and goes, 'Hey, man, Brand New Sin — what's going on? That was a great set.' And then he goes, 'My name's Darrell.' I'm looking at him, and I go, 'Like I don't know who you are, man!' And he goes, 'Well, I'm a Texas man. I like to introduce myself.' He was so down-to-earth. Then he took us to a bar and after about 30 black tooth grins, it got real fuzzy. That's always going to be my best memory of Dime."
Mark Hunter - frontman, Chimaira: "We were on Ozzfest in 2003, and Dime and Vinnie came by the show in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. ... I heard this rumor that they were going to do 'Walk' with Disturbed, so I hung around to check that out. It was pretty badass to just watch that, and then Dime signals over to me and some of the other guys standing along the side of the stage to get out there and start singing. I remember going out and seeing a good 30,000 people and playing 'Walk,' standing right next to Dime, singing along with him. It was the stuff dreams are made of. That was the kind of dude he was. 'Get up here, I don't care. We're not doing anything special.' Right after that, we were hanging out with him, and I remember telling him that one of my friends back in Ohio was his biggest fan. He was like, 'Call him up.' I called my buddy and Dime just grabs the phone from me and starts talking to my friend who he doesn't know, has never met. He was just excited to talk to a fan, and that was inspiring to me."