SHADOWS FALL Drummer Reports From DIMEBAG's Funeral

December 17, 2004

SHADOWS FALL drummer Jason Bittner has issued the following report from the funeral services and public memorial for slain DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, which were held on Tuesday (Dec. 14) in Arlington, Texas:

"I have just gotten to my computer today after returning home from Dimebag Darrell Abbott's funeral and I wanted to share what happened there with you all... Some of you were there, but a lot of you weren't so I will try to not paint a morbid picture.

Tuesday, December 14:

6:30 a.m.: I board what appears to be a tuna can with propellers that I pray is going to safely get me to Baltimore

9:30 a.m.: Safely in Baltimore, I board my plane for Dallas.

12:30 p.m.: Arrive in Dallas and then grab cab to the Wyndam Arlington where I will be staying.

1:00 p.m.: Grab my room key, quickly bump into my good friend Charlie Benante who looks like everyone else I'm going to see for the next 12 hours...tired, pale, and bummed. Next I see Shaun from SOIL, who informs me I can cram in their van to go to the services (cool).

1:20 p.m.: Shower and go bother metal's whitest black man Willie Gee (currently MEGADETH's guitar tech) ... who always seems to make me laugh.

2:30 p.m.: Me, Willie, Big Roger and everyone in SOIL head to the funeral home... It is here where anyone and everyone is here to pay their respects and (unfortunately under the circumstances) and say 'Hello.' Everyone's here... DISTURBED, STATIC-X, some of the SLIPKNOT guys (whom after taking with Corey are VERY excited about our upcoming tour, so that rules). TYPE O NEGATIVE guys, Rex [Brown], Pepper Keenan, KITTIE, my buddy Dino (ex-FEAR FACTORY),ALICE IN CHAINS guys... The list is extensive. We finally head into the chapel to the strains of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY being played over the PA system, to find a HEAVILY flowered mass area, with Dime quietly laid out in his KISS coffin!!! Rockin'! As we all try to keep our composure, the services start with Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez from ALICE IN CHAINS, who come out to play some acoustic ALICE IN CHAINS tunes with another guitar player (whom I didn't know),and Pat from DAMAGEPLAN singing as well... Very beautiful, not a dry eye in the house!! Next was Zakk's speech where he told a very funny story about him and Dime drinking over four bottles of Crown (oh, my liver hurts just thinking about it) one day on Ozzfest, and then the two of them waking up in Zakk's bunk together spooning!!!! Hey, Zakk said it, not me! Next was Charlie Benante's very moving speech, he told some funny stories and just wanted everyone to remember what a great, funny dude Dime was... Lastly was no other than Eddie Van Halen... who had given Rita (Dime's wife, pretty much) his actual old black/yellow Charvel for Dime to be buried with. It was pretty surreal!! So after the service ended, they asked if anyone wanted to view Dime one last time, to do so in an orderly fashion. Since i hadn't been able to make the wake, I wanted to go... so I grabbed Willie and Bo (who was THE HAUNTED's tour manger on this last tour) to go up with me. I was not prepared for what I was about to see. Dime looked fine, but what I then quickly noticed in the corner of his KISS casket was a small autographed splash cymbal that was put in the coffin 2 days prior... it was mine. I had given this to Dime a day before our tour ended as a memento, because he intially asked me for a pair of my sticks, so I went one better. Needless to say, I lost it... I started crying immediately (and I am right now just thinking about it) and tried to quickly walk away but Vinnie called out to me and came over to console me as best as he could, I saw Pat real quick and gave him a hug, but I had to get out. I only knew this man closely for 5 1/2 weeks, but it felt like a lot more than that.

"Outside I ran into Rat, who was one of DAMAGEPLAN's tech's on this last tour, we exchanged hugs and words, but it was nice to see he was still here. Right as we were about to leave I saw our buddy BEST DUDE... otherwise known as 'The Kat', Vinnie's tech. To those who dont know, Kat was shot a few times on that unfortunate night, be looked great in his suit (yeah, imagine that) and he had a drink in his hand and was in good spirits.

5:30 p.m.: Back in the van, first stop, yup you guessed it, THE LIQUOR STORE... Let the buzz begin. We then went to a great seafood restaurant and had a party of about 25 people, shots all over the place, (EVEN WILLIE GEE DRANK 2 SHOTS!) good food, good times and David from DISTURBED paid for all of us! When I thanked him, he said 'It's what Dime woulda done!' 'I got plastic that goes for miles!!' – Dime. Anyways it was nice.

9:00 p.m.: Public memorial service at the Arlington Convention Center, what an event… The highlight was watching Eddie Van Halen taking the mike away from Zakk every time Zakk tried to finish his speech... I couldn't help but think what he might have done if it wasn't one of his heroes!!! Anyways, we had a good time remembering Dime for all the good stuff, and we shed more tears as well.

12:30 a.m. or so we got kicked out of the Convention Center, I do a quick interview with Denise and Juliya for 'Uranium', and then we go back to the hotel bar. By this point I had been paling around with my new comedian buddies Don Jamieson and Jim Flourentine the 'Terrorizing Telemarketers' guys, and some of you may know Jim as 'Bobby Fletcher' and 'Special Ed' from Crank Yankers. Two great dudes, who are big metalheads that brought some laughs at a needed time.

1:30 a.m.: Last call, I cram in a car with Don, Jim, and one of their friends to finish the party out over at Vinnie's house. We arrive, Rita shows us to the bar, and I commence to go talk drum shit with Mike from DROWNING POOL and my good bud Charlie Benante (yes, there IS going to be a reunion tour w/ Joey — shhhh). Jim had to get to the airport so we stayed 'till about 5 or so... but before leaving I talked with Rita (who seems to be doing really well right now) for awhile about the fact that Dime really liked our band, and really had a great time (Vinnie told me the same) on what turned out to be this final run, I told her I was flattered about the cymbal, and she said 'It meant a lot to him' — still in shock over that!! She also said the 'he adored Jon' so that was really nice too!

5:30 a.m.: Drop Jim off at airport and conemplate calling my wife with a 'Special Ed' prank phone call, but we didn't have time. Next time.

6:00 a.m.: Don drops me off at the hotel, I pop in Shaun from SOIL's room for one last beer with him, Dino and Tony from STATIC-X.

10:30 a.m.: Willie frantically knocks on my door 'C'mon Sarge you overslept!')

11:00 a.m.: At the airport with a killer hangover... Worth it for 'The Idol'

"So as I said, if you got this email, there's a reason... Go buy a bottle of Crown Royal, pour a double for you, and one for Dime and knock it back....'GETCHA PULL!!' and light a candle at Xmas for his memory, he's in a better place, and he will be missed.

"I know I miss him."

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