EDDIE VAN HALEN, ZAKK WYLDE Deliver Tributes To DIMEBAG At Public Memorial

December 15, 2004

The Associated Press is reporting that guitarists Eddie Van Halen and Zakk Wylde delivered profanity-laced tributes at a public memorial service Tuesday night for slain heavy metal guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.

"I'm here for the same reason as everyone else, to give some love back...," Van Halen told the crowd of several thousand people.

"This guy was full of life. He lived and breathed rock 'n' roll," he said.

Abbott, 38, former guitarist for the band PANTERA, was shot to death last week in Columbus, Ohio, while performing with his new band, DAMAGEPLAN, at the Alrosa Villa nightclub.

Three others were killed before police shot and killed 25-year-old gunman Nathan Gale, described as an obsessed PANTERA fan.

The public memorial service followed a private funeral Tuesday that Abbott's friend Jerry Cantrell, a guitarist in the 1990s rock band ALICE IN CHAINS, described as "beautiful."

"Today's really been the start of the healing process," said Cantrell, who performed at the funeral and again at the public service.

Pictures of a grinning Abbott, his long hair hanging past his shoulders, covered three big screens. Strobe lights pierced through the darkness as speaker after speaker stepped to the stage, remembering how Abbott made playing the guitar look easy and how — as one friend put it — "he always looked at the glass as half full, figuratively and literally."

Van Halen shared the stage with guitarist Zakk Wylde, the two downing shots of liquor as they talked about their rock comrade.

"A whole part of my life is gone," said a red-eyed Wylde, telling the crowd he hadn't eaten in four days, instead relying on a "liquid diet."

Van Halen stuck his cell phone to the microphone and played a voice mail message that Abbott left for him after a concert where both performed.

An adjective that would not be allowed on network television figured heavily in the message, as Abbott described how much he had enjoyed the concert and getting "wasted" afterward.

"I just wanted to give you a ... call to tell you thank you so ... much, man, for the most awesome, uplifting, euphoric, spiritual rock 'n roll extravaganza ever," Abbott told Van Halen.

The crowd saved its loudest applause for Abbott's brother, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, who patted a life-sized cardboard cutout of his brother holding a guitar and encouraged fans as they chanted "Dimebag! Dimebag! Dimebag!"

Abbott, who attended Arlington High School and lived in nearby Dalworthington Gardens, had formed DAMAGEPLAN with his brother after they left PANTERA.

Vinnie Paul said his brother gave everything he had every night and "went down" doing what he loved.

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