December 18, 2004

MACHINE HEAD frontman Robert Flynn has posted the following message in the "Forum" section of the band's official web site:

"I still can't believe it.

"To say that MACHINE HEAD were devastated... there aren't even words. We found out about this unbelievable event while in Zagreb, Serbia [sic]. The sports arena we were playing had no phone lines, no Internet, virtually zero cell reception, no TV, no heat. We had nothing but patchy info for the next few days as we played more shows in Eastern Europe, and frustration started to boil. It was impossible to call anyone, check e-mail, anything. It's only now that I've finally been able to sit down and read everything surrounding what happened.

"That night, we dedicated 'Descend The Shades Of Night' to Dimebag, a man who inspired us in so many ways. I lost it on stage. We all lost it on stage. It's horrible. Things like this just don't happen. Musicians don't get KILLED on stage... while they're PLAYING... what the fuck? What the fuck is wrong with people?

"Dimebag was one in a million. He was the Randy Rhoads, the Jimi Hendrix of our time. I'm not gonna try and make it look like Dime and I were best buddies, we weren't... but I would certainly call him a friend.

"I met Dimebag for the first time on Ozzfest in '97. He invited Logan and I into their dressing room, and I remember being so fuckin' stoked to be hanging out in the PANTERA dressing room, like I had made it into some cool guy club. I loved PANTERA, and tried my hardest to mask my excitement... I didn't do a very good job, 'cause Darrell kept coming up to me and saying 'Damn dude, you look like you're doin' alright!', and all I could muster in the moment was '...Yeah'. He offered me a gazillion shots of whiskey that day, and over the next couple of months we hung out... not a lot, as I tried not to be a fan boy, but I couldn't help it, they were fucking amazing.

"Eventually they asked us to support them on their headline run for 'Trendkill'. It was here that we learned that it was okay to treat your support bands like equals — something we continue to practice to this day.

"That tour was one of the funnest, craziest, greatest goddamned tours we have ever done, and none of us have, or will ever forget the opportunity, nor the experience. Like it was yesterday, I remember one night, Dimebag got wasted (as he sometimes did)... but I mean, WASTED! ...and during COAL CHAMBER's set, he grabs my backup guitar, goes out on stage and starts 'air guitaring' with them during one of their songs. COAL CHAMBER looked around nervously and just kinda went with it... he then proceeded to smash my guitar down on the stage, completely shattering the neck. I thought to myself, 'uh... okay, we're sorta on next... what do I do?' Then I figured, 'Eh, fuck it, I'll worry about it tomorrow.'

"After our set, we go out to watch PANTERA. And let me just say, that to watch this man, who literally could not talk backstage, thinking all the while, 'Oh my GOD, this is gonna be a train wreck'... we all just stood there with our jaws on the floor as that motherfucker went out and played a perfectly fucking FLAWLESS show. Every rhythm, every lead... just NAILED it. It was in-fucking-human.

"So the next day I go up to him and say 'Hey man, do you remember what you did to my guitar last night?" He's like 'Uh... refresh my memory'... so I say, 'You... uh... smashed the neck in half'... to which he says 'No shit dude?! I'll take care of you, no problem, don't worry!' He then had his tour manager give us TWICE as much money as it would cost to replace / repair the neck. And then a week later, while we're ON STAGE in Chicago, he comes out, and brings both Logan and I brand new, top-of-the-line Dimebag Darrell signature guitars — these things were worth probably 2500 dollars each — and he whispers in my ear, 'Sorry about the neck, Carjacker' (a nickname he had for me)... I mean, COME ON!?

"The next time we saw him, he played us some 'just finished' mixes for the then-unreleased 'Reinventing The Steel' record at he and Vinnie's club. We were all worshipping. We drank shitloads, and he even rocked on the vodka with us, rather than the whiskey, just 'cause he remembered that the HEAD like vodka. A week later I get a package at our hotel in Pittsburg... he had sent 4 one-liter bottles of expensive-ass Ketel One vodka, all the way from Texas, with a note that read 'Carjacker, it was killer hanging out with you the other night. Remember, it's Goddamn Electric! — Your brother Dime.' That's the type of guy he was, such a giving person. 200 bucks worth of vodka? Bah, no problem.

"The last time I saw him was at Download / Donington this year. He told me he was 'blown away' by our new record. 'Record of the year,' he kept saying. To hear him say that really meant a lot. I mean it REALLY meant a lot. To be honest, and this is just a hunch, but I think it was the first record of ours that he really liked. My impression was always that he thought our other records were... good.

"So he's backstage warming up on my Black V after his guitar was rushed onstage, and he promises to send me more vodka for letting him 'warm up'... to which I reply 'Dude, don't even think about it.'

"Right after Download I got to thinking about he and Vinnie, and I ended up faxing him a letter to wish him well with DAMAGEPLAN, remind him that he'd better not be thinking about sending me bottles of vodka, and to tell him how much of an influence PANTERA was on me / us, and in particular, his playing, his guitar tone, the lyrics about unity — everything — had been on MACHINE HEAD, especially early on. It was something I'd always wanted to say to him, and even though we had toured with them, twice even... for some reason I always clammed up, or got insecure about saying it when I was around him.

"Right before we went out on this last tour, he calls me up around midnight, I'm driving home at the time and happen to be awake. He tells me he has someone who wants to talk to me, so I say 'Oh, yeah?', and he puts me on the phone with this HUGE MACHINE HEAD fan... apparently the kid had walked into this Mexican restaurant, ran into Darrell, and during their conversation they both got to talking about how much they loved 'Through The Ashes...', and the kid says to Darrell, 'Robert Flynn's my idol, I'd do anything to meet him.' So Dime whips out his phone and says, 'Let's call him!' So there I am, talking to this kid for like 15 minutes, mostly about how much we both love PANTERA... soon afterward he puts Dimebag back on, and we talk for another half hour or so, mostly about the aforementioned letter.

"He told me that he was genuinely moved by it.

"In retrospect, I'm really glad I that I finally got to say those things to him.

"He had more of an effect on the four of us than he could possibly imagine.

"Some people consider it 'un-metal' to be a giving person, but I tell you what, that guy right there was one of the most giving people that you could ever meet, and he was as metal as it fuckin' gets.

"To Nathan Bray, the courageous fan who jumped on stage to perform CPR on Darrell and died trying to save his life... you are a true hero, and your death is no less significant than Dime's, nor were the lives of Erin 'Stoney' Halk or Jeffrey 'Mayhem' Thompson.

"To James Niggemeyer, the policeman that shot and killed that twisted freak that had the gall to call himself a 'fan', I commend you. You deserve a medal of honor.

"To, and the people that post there, you have all never stood taller in my eyes. The wealth of information that has been brought forward by the editor, and the class with which it has been presented, is truly unprecedented. In addition, the level of respect and empathy shown to each other — and especially to the mother of Nathan Bray, who wrote that heart-wrenching letter — was sincerely admirable.

"To the politicians who are claiming that this is what heavy metal breeds, you don't know what the hell you're even talking about.

"And lastly, to the hatemongering son-of-a-bitch named William Grim, from conservative website The Iconoclast, who wrote the most disgraceful, classless article I've ever read entitled 'AESTHETICS OF HATE: R.I.P. DIMEBAG ABBOTT, & GOOD RIDDANCE'…

"You WILL burn in hell!

"What would YOU know about love or values? What would YOU know about giving to the world? All that you know is teaching prejudice, and your heart is as black as the 'ignorant, filthy, and hideously ugly, heavy metal fans' you try and paint in your twisted, fictitious ramblings. It's because of people like YOU, that there are Nathan Gales in this world, NOT the Dimebags and metal musicians who work to unite people through music.

"You just don't get it.

"You say, 'Americans should aspire to greatness.' Well, Dimebag was an American that did more than 'aspire' to greatness. He was an American that 'achieved' it. And you will NEVER know what it is to taste greatness William Grim. Because in order to achieve greatness, you must first believe in the greatness of people, no matter how 'ugly' or 'fat' or 'stupid' they are, on the outside... and Dimebag did just that.

"Long live Dimebag Darrell in the hearts of us all."

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