DIMEBAG's Longtime Girlfriend Says PANTERA 'Definitely' Would Have Reunited Had He Not Been Murdered

October 28, 2017

"Dimebag" Darrell Abbott's longtime girlfriend Rita Haney was recently interviewed by the "Talk Toomey" podcast about a number of topics, including "Dimevision Vol. 2: Roll With It Or Get Rolled Over", the upcoming DVD/CD set featuring video footage of the late PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN guitarist captured between the mid-'80s and his later years. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On her comment in the VH1 "Behind the Music" episode about PANTERA where she said that she told former PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo that she would blow his face off if he showed up at Dimebag's memorial or funeral:

Rita: "It's weird about the way that was kind of taken a little out of context. Basically, when [Philip] had called, he was talking about coming over to mine and Darrell's house right then at that moment. And Vinnie's [Paul Abbott, Dimebag's brother and former PANTERA drummer] plane had just landed and he was coming from the airport to the house from Ohio [where he had just witnessed his brother getting killed]. And what I had said was, 'No. If you show up here…' Well, he had said something really crappy to me on the phone and you could tell that he was in a fog, he totally was on drugs, he was not the Philip I know. And when he said to me, 'Right things happen to right people,' and I was, like, 'What did you say?' And he said that to me again. And that's when I said, 'If you show up here, I'll blow your head off myself.' And I was referring to my home. But, you know, they put it in there and made it sound like I said that about him coming to Darrell's funeral, and that's really not where that was taken from. Because Vinnie made that decision [to not invite Philip to Darrell's funeral], and I respected that decision. [Vinnie] couldn't be in that room with [Philip] at that time, and I understood that; I didn't want to either. But, yeah, what I had to say and what they used in there was referring to him coming to our home. So… just to clear that up.

"As far as Philip and I go, a lot of times… there were things that were, I guess… blame that was laid on him that wasn't his burden to carry. I still have resentments and we don't agree on the way some things went. But I know now when I look in his eyes, it's the Philip I know; it's not the drug-induced and in some kind of weird heroin haze, or whatever you wanna call it... I don't know. I'm not so familiar with that, because it wasn't part of my world — you know what I mean? — as far as I never tried the drugs, so I couldn't tell you what it does to you. But I saw what it did to him, and it made him a completely different person. So those two people are like two different people to me. But as far as I know how much he loves Darrell — yes. And, like I said, at the end of the day, we are all still family. But I still have some resentments and some things that I know he did that really hurt Darrell, but that's between them. But I also know that the reason Darrell was hurt so bad was because of how much he loved Philip. You can't feel that kind of pain unless someone really matters to you, and Philip matters. So… I just know. I've been in that hot seat with Darrell. I know his father, Vinnie has… And [Darrell is] just one of those people — he gets to the bottom of it; he resolves it, he doesn't let stuff go when someone matters. And I've been forgiven. His father has. I just know that he would stand on stage next to [Philip again]. I know Darrell. [He was] the most forgiving person I've ever met."

On whether a PANTERA reunion would have happened by now had Dimebag not been taken from us:

Rita: "Oh, yeah! I totally think so. I mean, [Darrell] had already made the effort to get on the phone with Rex [Brown, ex-PANTERA bassist] on his birthday, on August 20th, in 2004, and had made plans to speak with him again. So, yeah, definitely. Because I know how, in his heart, he was PANTERA — he always would be. No matter what it was called — DAMAGEPLAN or what — that was always what was inside of him. And I know the things that he was feeling when he came home. He felt he had something to prove. He didn't wanna do those things with [DAMAGEPLAN frontman] Pat Lachman. Pat had already been causing issues and there were problems. I have several voice messages from [Darrell] that I still have of things that he left and was telling me about the things Pat was doing out there. And he was, like, 'Man, I don't wanna work with this dude. I wanna fire him. I just don't want people to think we're difficult to work with.' I mean, that's just how he felt. So, yeah, I definitely believe that they would be standing on stage together."

On issues DAMAGEPLAN was having with Patrick Lachman prior to Dimebag's death:

Rita: "When [Pat] first came into the picture, we were all talking on the back porch, and him saying he wanted to be part of the band. And I know Darrell told him then, he goes, 'Well, dude, I've got the guitars handled.' And he's, like, 'No, no, no. I wanna audition. I wanna sing.' And Darrell was, like, 'Well, okay. Shit, maybe since you're coming from the guitar-player angle, you won't have LSD [Lead Singer's Disease].' [Laughs] I mean, that was a big thing. But, you know, there was just a lot to [Pat] that what you saw at first was not what was hidden under the exterior. He had spoke several things to us about… He had played [guitar] in HALFORD and he talked about how he had gotten ripped off there and didn't get paid his money and this and that, and we just thought, 'Well, that kind of sucks.' But then he turned around and tried to do the same thing about DAMAGEPLAN. So that's just that same old repetitive whining… I don't know. But it wasn't true. And it wasn't true, I guess, in the case of HALFORD either. But Darrell told him coming in, 'We play the PANTERA songs. Our fans wanna hear that. We're not gonna let 'em down, and that's part of it. And you may feel it. We're giving you everything we can and putting you right up here, but you're gonna get comparisons to Philip and so forth, but you stick it out, man, [and] you'll make a name yourself.' I mean, it wasn't like he wasn't already known for his playing and stuff. But he was given a really killer opportunity, and then he just got, 'I don't wanna play these songs anymore,' and, 'I'm not gonna do this.' And it's, like, 'Dude, you can't be like that. You knew coming in this was part of it.' But, you know, it was kind of a blessing in disguise, though. Because of him being so honorary there at the end, Darrell had dropped three tunes in [Pat's] mailbox for him to write lyrics to, and [Pat] kept not doing it and just kind of being a tool about it. And so since he didn't write anything on it, they still lie there. And it's, like, me personally, as a fan, would love to see Philip and Rex on those. And so maybe one day Vinnie will be open for that… I would love it. I know just going back, Darrell wrote a lot of notes and handwritten things and ideas and put things down on tape. And that's something that he touches on — about always being PANTERA and wanting to come out really strong. And I just think… In his heart, I think it'd be nice for the fans to have those last few songs be what I know he was in his heart."

On whether she foresees a day when Vinnie and Philip will be on speaking terms again:

Rita: "You can never tell about Vinnie. Yeah, nothing would surprise me, I guess, is how I wanna say that. 'Cause there's been periods of time where he and I have gone and not spoke, and he surprises me. So he's opened up a lot to things. I don't wanna say maybe he's thawed out a little bit. But time does heal sometimes. But I don't know… I wouldn't not like to say… Well, shit… I'm tongue-tied. [Laughs] It's hard to answer for someone else. Me as a fan looking at it, I would love to see those guys hop up on stage and belt a few tunes out together — just paying homage to their fallen brother. But as far as — I don't know — anything else, like I said, there's always going to be resentments of stuff that was really hurtful. And I don't think you get past those, you just move on from those. So… never say never. Vinnie can be surprising."

On a much-talked-about hypothetical PANTERA "reunion" featuring Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE) filling in for Dimebag on guitar:

Rita: "Those four dudes that are PANTERA were brothers, you know. And me… I don't think you can call something PANTERA without any one of them being present. It took all four of them to create the magic and chaos that way. And I feel the respect factor for Dime plays a big part in. And, like I said, don't get me wrong — I'd love to see 'em jump up and belt out a few tunes, especially with some of Dime's friends, but I don't think you could put that burden on one player; it's too heavy and too emotional, I know, even for Zakk. But, you know, it'd be great to see Z do a couple of tunes, Kerry King [SLAYER] do a couple of tunes… Hell, throw Phil Demmel [MACHINE HEAD] up there too — he's a badass. I understand, like I said, maybe paying homage or paying tribute to Dime, but I don't ever see something being called PANTERA. I think it'd be too heavy emotionally for any three of those guys — from Rex to Philip to Vinnie, especially — to look over there, stage left, and not see him standing there. I mean, I think it's pretty tough that they… even still for them today, moving on and playing in the bands that they play. So… yeah. I don't know about that."

"Dimevision Vol. 2: Roll With It Or Get Rolled Over" will be released on November 24 via Metal Blade Records. Pre-orders are available at this location. The DVD/CD set — which will include more raw footage, true gems and classic Dimebag moments — will also contain five previously unreleased demos, picked from a vast catalog Dimebag accrued since Haney gave him his first four-track in 1984.

Photo credit: VintageRock.com

Interview (audio):

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