Within an hour of the shooting at the Alrosa Villa that left "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and four others dead, Disturbed frontman David Draiman's phone began ringing off the hook. And it didn't stop for almost 24 hours. Right then and there, he knew that something had to be done to pay tribute to his slain friend.
"I started making phone calls the day after I got the news. I knew that something had to be done to honor his memory. But then I was watching TV, and I saw that his family was auctioning off a bunch of his possessions on eBay," Draiman said. "I was like 'Damn, is the situation that dire?' If it had come to that, then I also knew that we had to do something to help his loved ones out."
So Draiman decided to organize a benefit concert for the Dimebag Darrell Memorial Fund, which helps Abbott's family pay funeral expenses. And it wasn't difficult to find acts to fill the bill: Dimebag was a beloved figure in the heavy metal community (see "Ozzy, Dave Mustaine, Jonathan Davis Remember Dimebag").
"We wanted anyone who was close to Dime. And it wasn't a matter of finding the biggest acts we could get. I wanted people who knew him and loved him," Draiman said. "It just turned out that we got some of the biggest acts out there."
Anthrax, Drowning Pool and Soil will join Disturbed onstage February 23 at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom (tickets go on sale Saturday). It promises to be an emotional night, and Draiman wanted the perfect venue, which is why he chose the Aragon. It's a little dark, a little dank and a little dangerous. It's someplace that Dime would've approved of.
"We ended up choosing the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago because that's where I had seen the best Pantera shows," Draiman said. "That's the place that was the stereotypical metal venue. They called it the 'brawlroom.' It's just one big floor, and it's chaos. It's beautiful. And I couldn't think of doing it any other way. We could've brought the show to a bigger building, but it wouldn't have the same vibe."
And the venue won't be the only thing having special significance that night. While most Dimebag tributes have consisted of musicians leaving a shot of liquor onstage in his honor, Draiman promises a more elaborate — though equally touching — memorial.
"There was this story told at the funeral, regarding a guitar [that was made for] Dime, a Washburn that he only played a couple of times, made in the shape of a Crown Royal bottle," Draiman said. "Dime donated it to the Hard Rock in Orlando a few years back. That guitar is going to be flown out to Chicago for the show. And [Disturbed guitarist] Danny [Donegan] is going to play a song with that guitar.
"We're also going to just reminisce about the kind of guy Dime was. There's going to be a video montage, and we'll all do a Pantera and/or Damageplan cover or two," he continued. "It's going to be a night of brotherhood and support. Instead of dwelling on the facts of his death, we're trying to focus on the way he lived."
Click here for more on the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell and the Ohio club shooting.