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From the Dallas Morning News
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/121504dnmetmemorial.58278.html
Stars join fans to mourn slain guitarist


Security tight in Arlington for public service to honor slain rock star

12:12 AM CST on Wednesday, December 15, 2004

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

ARLINGTON – The gathering was billed as a public memorial service for a fallen musician. But the event was as much rock show as funeral, with beer and tears flowing freely and heavy metal music mixing with somber prayers.

A couple of thousand people assembled Tuesday night at the Arlington Convention Center to say farewell to Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who along with four others was shot to death during a Columbus, Ohio, concert last week.

Music fans from their teens to their 40s tailgated in the convention center parking lot, blasting the aggressive music of their idol from their car stereos. Later, they filed inside to mourn the 38-year-old Dalworthington Gardens resident in a service expected to last until midnight.

"Let us remember his happiness," Nick Bowcott, former guitarist with the metal band Grim Reaper, told the crowd. "He never lost sight of where he came from. He started as a fan, and he was always a fan."

The funeral Tuesday for Mr. Abbott was closed to the public. However, Damageplan's management and record company scheduled the later service so fans could pay their respects to the guitar hero.

Inside the convention center – decorated with flowers from the funeral and blown-up magazine covers featuring Mr. Abbott – friends and rock stars, including Eddie Van Halen and Zakk Wylde, spoke about the man they called "Dime."

"I'm here for the same reason as everyone else, to give some love back," Mr. Van Halen said. "This guy was full of life. He lived and breathed rock 'n' roll."


Randy Eli Grothe / DMN
Magazine covers featuring 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott were on display Tuesday night at the Arlington Convention Center.

Band videos and home movies were shown, and fans raised their drinks in salute and chanted Mr. Abbott's nickname, a slang term for a $10 bag of marijuana.

Dax Little, who lives just a few blocks from Mr. Abbott's house, showed up at the convention center about 4 p.m. and was first in line in the chilling cold. He said he needed closure.

"It's hurting me really bad," the 20-year-old said about Mr. Abbott's death. "I'm a guitar player, and he's a god to me."

Marshall Garner, a 27-year-old Irving resident, said he met Mr. Abbott several times, and the rock star was always friendly and down-to-earth.

"It seems like a favor I should do for him," he said about attending the service.


Randy Eli Grothe / DMN
Fans saluted the slain guitarist with signs, concert T-shirts, songs and prayers.

The other shooting victims were Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, 40, a band technician and bodyguard; Erin Halk, 29, a club employee, and fan Nathan Bray, 23. The gunman, Nathan Gale, a 25-year-old ex-Marine and former semipro football player, was fatally wounded by a police officer during the Dec. 8 attack at the Alrosa Villa club.

Two other members of the Damageplan road crew were also wounded.

Police did not have a motive for the shooting, but friends of Mr. Gale said he was obsessed with Mr. Abbott's former band, Pantera. They said that he might have blamed Mr. Abbott and his brother, Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, for the group's breakup. The brothers formed Damageplan last year after the demise of Pantera, the band they formed in high school during the early 1980s.

A DJ named Dr. Rock, who has known Mr. Abbott since his early band days, told the crowd that the memorial service, scheduled for 9 p.m., started late as a tribute to the notoriously tardy Mr. Abbott.

"We always said he was going to be late to his own funeral, and he was," Dr. Rock said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 
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