Rita Haney, the longtime girlfriend of late PANTERA/DAMAGEPLAN guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, has paid tribute to the rocker on the 15th anniversary of his death.
Abbott, one of the most beloved and respected musicians in hard rock, was shot onstage during a DAMAGEPLAN concert on December 8, 2004 at the Alrosa Villa club in Columbus, Ohio by a 25-year-old ex-Marine named Nathan Gale. Gale murdered a total of four people and wounded three others before being killed himself by police officer James D. Niggemeyer, who arrived on the scene minutes after Gale began his rampage.
On Sunday, Rita took to her social media to write: "Well here we are on D-Day.. 15 yrs... has it really been that much time.. I sure miss those eyes.. and you telling me to come get in my favorite place, then tap the space between your neck and shoulder.. and you knew it really was my favorite place being strapped up inside since yesterday has given me lots of time to remember so many different moments.. the only urge today I felt the need to check the time.. then realized.. this was about when I was backing out of the garage in the Rock Box and got the call from Vinnie [Paul Abbott, PANTERA/DAMAGEPLAN drummer and Dimebag's brother].. strange how things can still be so vivid after all this time.. I think about how I couldn't stay mad at you cause you would make me laugh.. and even now when I tear up.. you make something funny pop in my head.. so I suck it up and swallow hard.. which has been a little difficult today since I'm wrestling with this sore throat and cruddy chest thing.. not the best time to be stuck on the couch.. but Cat Dracula has been a pretty good nurse prescribing cuddles and kisses all day This is usually the kinda shit I write in my journals.. apologies for rattling on.. The point of this post is to Thank you.. Thank You everyone for loving him and remembering him.. also thank you for all the kind thoughts and words today that I have received on all social platforms, by text, VM, etc. you guys remind me why you live your best life!!! I still have the best life.. Thank you Darrell"
Dimebag and Vinnie Paul formed PANTERA in the mid-eighties in Texas. The band recorded four independent albums before their 1990 major label debut, "Cowboys From Hell", introduced a heavier sound and made them a favorite with metal fans. 1994's "Far Beyond Driven" debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 without benefit of a commercial hit single.
The group splintered in 2002 following the departure of volatile lead singer Philip Anselmo. Dime and Vinnie regrouped with DAMAGEPLAN, releasing the band's debut album, "New Found Power", in February of 2004. The group was touring in support of the record at the time of the shootings.
Haney in 2011 called on Vinnie and Anselmo to settle their differences in honor of Dimebag.
Vinnie and Anselmo had not spoken since PANTERA split in 2003. But the relationship got even more acrimonious when Vinnie indirectly blamed Philip for Dimebag's death, suggesting that some remarks the vocalist had made about Dimebag in print just weeks earlier might have incited Dimebag's killer.