While working in radio, I would see fans come to the studio and give musicians all kinds of gifts. The musicians would thank the fans and throw the stuff in the limo, in the trash -- sometimes never look at it. Sometimes a band would bring the gift into the studio, just having been handed it in the parking lot. They would open it -- it might be a nice bottle of booze or even something like a portrait that was painted by the fan. Often the musician would smile and say to the nearest person, "You can have this if you want." They'd autograph it and some intern at our station now had a cool gift.
There was a guy named Jimmy who was a hardcore Pantera fan and had a business airbrushing shirts. He gave one to Peg to give to Dimebag Darrell as a gift. She said, "I'm going to interview them before the show. Come by the station and I'll let you give it to him in person."
Jimmy handed the shirt to Darrell, who thanked him for it. That night in concert he came out wearing the shirt. Imagine the thrill that was for Jimmy! Peg remembers, "Near the end of the concert he'd take off his shirt and throw it to the crowd. Jimmy probably didn't care as much for that part of it. But the next time Darrell came into the studio, I let him give Darrell another shirt. And the exact same thing happened. But Jimmy was thrilled he even wore the thing."
Dave Mustaine, singer for Megadeth (and former Metallica member), was born and raised in La Mesa and lives there still. He also issued a statement on the website "Metal Sludge" the very night of the murder: "There is nothing unique or clever to this post and what I want to say has no doubt already been said throughout the metal community, by countless others whom were more closer to Darrell than me, by now. However, knowing he was murdered tonight, I wish to thank and remember Darrell for his amazing life and the gift that he shared with me and so many other fortunates. I pray for Darrell's family and friends; specifically for their healing, their peace, and their understanding of this tragedy in their time of need. I send my deepest heartfelt condolences to the Abbott family, to Darrell's friends, and to the fantastic Pantera and Damageplan fans around the world. We must never forget his life, and his genius, his terrific personality, and to the legacy he left behind to remember him by. Darrell, I will see you in heaven and I, like so many more, love you brother. You will be missed."
A music photographer in Colorado once told Peg that Darrell handed him a beer and that he had a really bad acid trip from drinking it. He was sure that Darrell spiked it with something. A person working with the band said, "Never drink anything Darrell hands you." Peg tells me, "That's weird, because I've drank things he's handed me and never had a problem. He was so sweet and I can't imagine him doing that. Maybe it was a joke."
Unfortunately for Peg and me, the best parties the Abbotts had were in Dallas, Texas. They owned a strip club there and many metal bands that came through partied with them. After her radio career, Peg began working with Suicidal Tendencies. One night the members of that band and Peg were at the club and a guy in Suicidal thought someone in Pantera was laughing at him. He punched the guy, knocking him out. Usually, though, metal bands talk fondly of their trips to Texas to party with Pantera.
Ratt started here in San Diego. Ex-member Juan Croucier issued this: "Dimebag Darrell was an awesome guitar player. Pantera and Damageplan were great, great bands. I remember hearing Pantera for the first time back in the early '90s and thinking to myself, 'Man, this band is over the top.' Very intense. I loved it. It was also my brother Rick's favorite band. Darrell brought something new to the hard rock/metal game. He was not only a great guitar player/songwriter, but he changed the rock music with his style and approach. Hard rock will never be the same. His contribution to music will live on in all of us who loved his work. Life is so precious. Everyone matters. Unfortunately, we live in a world where senseless and insane acts of violence can and do happen without warning."
They do, and that's why I was surprised by Ted Nugent's comments. He's an NRA member, a big hunter, and an outspoken advocate of gun ownership. He told the Flint Journal, a Michigan newspaper, "It was horrible. Darrell was a big fan of mine. He expressed that every time we ever saw each other." Of the many musicians' statements I read, the "Motor City Madman" was the only one to comment on Darrell being his fan, not the other way around. He even mentions songs of his that Pantera covered. He ended with, "It's tragic on two dynamic levels. Once again, innocence is destroyed, and it's Americans destroying other Americans. This conduct runs wild in this country...It's not the Taliban doing it. It's Americans."