Exactly two months have passed since heavy metal guitar hero Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed during a Damageplan concert in Columbus, Ohio. Aside from a brief statement two days after the shooting, his brother and bandmate Vinnie Paul has remained silent. But friends say he is dealing well with his loss and there are signs that he's starting to put his own life back together.
Paul may even return to the stage to play with Anthrax at a February 23 benefit in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom (see "Disturbed Frontman Felt Compelled To Do Benefit For Dimebag's Family"). Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian says he and Paul recently talked about the possibility, and that the drummer has an open invitation to play with the band. It would be the first time Paul will have performed live since Dime was murdered (see "Dimebag Darrell, Four Others Killed In Ohio Concert Shooting"). "We're just hoping it happens," Ian said. "There would be nothing better than getting Vinnie up on the drum kit and jamming with us. That would just be incredible."
Following the tragedy, some wondered whether Paul would ever be able to perform in concert again. He and Dimebag were extremely close and had played together since before they formed Pantera in 1982 (see "Vinnie Paul: 'Rest In Peace Brother Dime' "). It would be easy to understand how Dime's murder might send Paul into early retirement, but Ian said that's not likely to happen. "I don't think that would be possible with him. It's in his blood. The last thing in the world he would do, or that Dime would ever want, would be for him to not drum anymore. That would be insane."
In addition to preparing for his eventual return to the stage, Paul has begun to lay the groundwork for other aspects of his career. On January 21, he showed up at the National Association of Music Merchants show in Anaheim, California, to help launch a signature snare issued by Pearl drums.
Also, he and surviving Damageplan bandmates — singer Patrick Lachman and bassist Bobzilla — signed Dimebag posters at the Dean guitars booth along with Ian, Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde and others.
"His spirits were great," Ian said. "He's doing as well as could be expected in the situation, and he looked a lot better than I thought he would. The fact that he even came out to the NAMM show said a lot. He wanted to be there and talk to people and meet people."
While at the convention, Paul also attended a private party for Guitar World magazine's 25th anniversary, which was headlined by Black Label Society. "He seemed like he was doing a little bit better," confirmed Wylde, who had become friends with Dime and Paul over the past two years. "But how do you judge when it comes to handling something like that? Vinnie has always been a quiet guy, so he's kind of hard to read."
While Paul struggles to cope with his loss, ex-Pantera singer Phil Anselmo is making an effort to mend his relationship with the drummer, and is calling his former feud with Dimebag "coerced nonsense made to sell magazines" (see "Dimebag's Former Bandmate Phil Anselmo Says He's Devastated, Plans To Disappear"). In a post on his Web site, Anselmo wrote, "I want to be there for Vinnie Paul no matter how long it takes. I want to be there for [Dime's longtime girlfriend] Rita, if she'll have me."
Anselmo added that, despite the bad blood since Pantera broke up, he was sure the group would one day get back together and is devastated that he'll never again perform with Dime. "If we, just the four of us, were to sit in a room together, we'd have been laughing, crying and laughing again," he wrote. "The weight of the world would be lifted off of our shoulders as we hugged each other. Play together again? I have a suspicion that our fans would demand some type of reunion. My God, I thought of that so many times, and because what our fans wanted, they usually got.
"It may have taken a little longer, but think about how long it took the original Black Sabbath to play together again."
So far, Paul, his bandmates and family members have rejected Anselmo's gestures of friendship and even asked him not to attend a memorial service for Dimebag. In light of past malicious comments about Dime, some consider Anselmo's recent attempts at reconciliation hollow or meaningless. But Ian doesn't question the singer's sincerity. "I just hope that whatever they have between them, if there's something that could be worked out, then hopefully that could happen," he said. "If any good could come out of this horrible situation, it would be great."
Click here for more on the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell and the Ohio club shooting.