The world lost an amazing drummer and by all accounts a great person when Vinnie Paul Abbott passed away on 6/22/2018 at age 54. As the drummer of Pantera, he formed the battery of the band that would put the metal genre on their backs in the 1990s. Often imitated and never duplicated, Vinnie was heavy influenced by legends from his childhood like Black Sabbath, Metallica, Slayer, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and KISS. However, what he put down behind the kit for more than 30 years was a major source of inspiration for a legion of drummers that followed.
Vinnie was born in Albeline, TX on March 11, 1964. Along with his brother Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie took to music as a pre-teen under the tutelage of their father Jerry Abbott, a country music songwriter, producer and sideman. Once Darrell picked up the guitar, the two brothers modeled themselves after another pair of brothers, Eddie and Alex Van Halen of Van Halen. The Abbott brothers more than lived up to their legacy becoming top-notch players and performers respectively on their instruments. Vinnie was the pillar of the early Pantera “glam-era” albums, with his tight drumming and his cross between classic hard rock and thrash.
Vinnie’s true rise to fame was after the shift from glam rock to thrash and “power-groove” metal with 1990s titanic Cowboys From Hell (ATCO) album. Vinnie’s technical prowess was one of the keystones of that album, and for the band moving forward. Every song was a little drum symphony of classic beats wrapped up with clever fills full of polyrhythms and great technical playing. Vinnie was already becoming a world-class player and performer as the band hit the road and began to tour and spread the word of Pantera. Even more so on 1992’s Vulgar Display Of Power (ATCO). This record and followup, Far Beyond Driven (EastWest/Elektra) cemented Vinnie as one of the greatest drummers and songwriters in the genre. His beats, along with Darrell’s riffs drove songs with the brutality and blunt force of hardcore, but also the laser precision of technical thrash metal. The creativity and power on these albums are still to this day unbridled, raw, and perfect.
Following Pantera’s final studio album Reinventing The Steel (EastWest/Elektra) and the end of Pantera Vinnie worked in new a new band, Damageplan, until the untimely murder of his brother Dime. However he soldiered on in projects such as Rebel Meets Rebel, and eventually rock/metal supergroup HELLYEAH, which released five albums from 2007 to 2016, and was said to be working on a new album due out later in 2018.
Vinnie’s influence can be heard all over by countless new bands from his drum patterns, to his iconic use of triggered drums, drums set up, tuning, and his snare tone. His style was adopted and by more mainstream rock bands, as were some of his production techniques.
Best known about him was his legendary generosity and kindness with his friends and the fans. Vinnie was one of the rare guys in this business that was universally loved. Likewise, he’ll be universally missed as well.
Rest in peace, Big Vin.
The accompanying photos are from Evil Robb Photography’s personal archive and exclusive to Ghost Cult. You can see more pictures of Vinnie, Pantera, and other bands there.