In the coming months, numerous artists, including Nickelback and Brides of Destruction, will release songs about or dedicated to late Damageplan/Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. One of the most heartfelt tributes comes from his close friend Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, who conceived a music video for the ballad “In This River” that’s an allegory of his relationship with Darrell.
In the clip, the guitarists are depicted as children who ride their bikes to the edge of a river, then dive in and attempt to swim across. The young Wylde makes it to the other side; Darrell doesn’t.
“The river is a metaphor for life in general,” Wylde said, “all the bullsh– that you deal with from being a kid growing up. The whole thing’s just about life and death.”
Other scenes include Wylde singing and playing piano in the middle of a (shallow) river, then smashing the instrument to pieces with an axe before setting it on fire and rocking out on a double-necked guitar. The video also incorporates black-and-white footage of Darrell onstage, which was supplied by his widow, Rita.
Wylde came up with the concept for the clip, which was directed by Eric Zimmerman (Megadeth, Napalm Death) and shot in March in Southern California, and worked closely on the project with Rita, who cast the two children. “When she chose them, I said to her, ‘I think we might have to cast some other kids — I don’t remember me and Dime ever looking this good,” Wylde joked. “One kid’s got the Kiss shirt on with the Dime razorblade necklace, and the other’s got the Sabbath stuff on. We were all laughing seeing the little dudes dressed up. It was funny because they don’t know who I am or who Dime was because they’re just little guys.”
Although the tone of “In This River” is somber, Wylde had a good time during the shoot. “Everything was a celebration of Dime’s life, which was really important for me,” he said. “But it was also really fun smashing the piano. No one’s gonna turn down the chance to smash sh–.”
Wylde wrote “In This River” for Black Label Society’s 2005 album Mafia, several months before Darrell was killed. It wasn’t until after his death that the track was turned into a Dimebag tribute. “I was looking at the lyrics, and I just said, ‘Man, this has gotta be Dime’s tune,’ so we just made it Dime’s song and that’s how the video came about,” he said. “I think it’s really emotional and it came out great. Everyone loves it: [Dimebag's brother] Vinnie, Rita. It’s all about Dime’s memory and there ain’t a dry eye in the house every time you see it.”
Click here for more on the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell and the Ohio club shooting.