A previously unreleased solo by late Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell will appear this fall in an unlikely place: on Nickelback's new album, All the Right Reasons. The guitar parts for the flailing, 24-second lead were donated by Darrell's brother, drummer Vinnie Paul, and assembled from outtakes from the Pantera albums Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven.
The song, a tribute to Darrell titled "Side of a Bullet," was written three months after the guitarist was killed while performing onstage with Damageplan in Columbus, Ohio (see "Dimebag Darrell, Four Others Killed In Ohio Concert Shooting"). Kroeger first penned the song's aggressive, metallic riff, then wrote call-and-response lyrics from the perspective of a Pantera fan so enraged over Dimebag's murder that he vows revenge, not realizing the shooter had already been killed by a policeman.
Kroeger roars in the song's chorus: "How could you take his life away (What made you think you had the right?)/ How could you be so full of hate (To take away somebody's life?)/ When I heard you let him die and leave the world, I wondered why/ I sat and home and on my own, I cried alone and scratched your name in the side of a bullet."
"I was very upset, and for two months, if I saw his picture somewhere I would get angry," Kroeger said of his motivation for writing the song. "I hadn't lost somebody to a shooting before — it wasn't as though he'd been killed in some sort of accident. He was taken in such a horrible, malicious way that just made it more painful."
Once Kroeger finished demoing "Side of a Bullet," he called up Paul and played it to him to get his take on the tune. Paul liked what he heard and urged Kroeger to write lyrics about Dime. "I said, 'Well, funny enough, that song is about your brother,' " Kroeger recalled.
Paul volunteered to play on the song, so Kroeger overnighted him the tape and encouraged him to record a new drum track over the one played by Nickelback drummer Daniel Adair. "He thought about it for a while," Kroeger said, "then he decided that Daniel had done such an amazing job that we should leave it the way it was. That's when he sent the guitar parts from Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven, which we used for the solo."
Kroeger was introduced to Dimebag and Paul in 2002 in Dallas by former Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, who was touring as Nickelback's opening act. A few drinks later, the ex-Pantera members admitted to Kroeger that they were big fans. "Vinnie told me he listened to Nickelback every day, which really surprised me," Kroeger said. "But I guess they come from that whole Southern-rock background, and we're a hard-rock band with Southern-rock influences, so they liked it a lot."
In 2003, the next time Nickelback played Dallas, Kroeger hooked up with Dime and, during a long night of partying, played him his demo of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," which Nickelback were covering with Kid Rock for the soundtrack to "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle."
"I wrote all these heavy, tuned-down guitar riffs and I asked him if he wanted to play the guitar solo on it, and he was pumped to do it," Kroeger said. Dime ultimately joined him and Kid on the track. "That was the first time I appeared on a record with Dime, and now this. I just wish this wasn't the way it had to happen."
Click here for more on the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell and the Ohio club shooting.