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Dimebag Darrell: A Photo Tour of the Fallen Pantera Guitarist



Alison Roberto was on hand to witness the 2009 edition of the Ride for Dime Barbecue and All Star Jam this past August with a crew from MTV2′s Headbangers Ball, and she was kind enough to share her recollections of the event that pays tribute to late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott with Noisecreep.

Headbangers Ball doesn’t get out much anymore as many of you may have noticed (and been vocal about). But rest assured there are a few loyal metal warriors fighting the good fight and trying to convince the corporate beasts that metal has not gone anywhere! That’s why our crew is here, standing outside of Dimebag Darrell’s home in Dallas.

I have been fortunate enough to contribute to the entertainment industry as a print art director, on air director, and now photographer. I have gotten to work with a lot of my favorite bands without feeling an ounce star struck, but this just isn’t any band. This is the band, and I am in the home of one of the most influential and incredible guitar players of our lifetime.

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Headbangers Ball Honors Dimebag Darrell
Dime’s nickname was the ‘Shithouse Poet’ because he would routinely write on the walls, post photos and hang KISS memorabilia in the master bathroom. Ace Frehley even signed the bathroom mirror. Dime’s long time girlfriend, Rita Haney, has kept everything the way he left it, taking nothing down.
Dime & Rita’s home, Dallas, TX
Alison Roberto, www.alisonroberto.com

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Mayhem FestAug. 15 was also a memorable day, though. Our MTV2 crew spent the day racing around the Rockstar Mayhem Fest in Dallas. Any fan of metal would have given a vital limb to be a fly on the wall in the places I had been, with the elite access we were granted. Chatting with Slayer‘s Kerry King and Dave Lombardo on their bus, getting a sneak peek at Marilyn Manson‘s dressing room that he insisted be adorned with black drapes and the air conditioner cranked on every stop along the tour, following Bullet for My Valentine from their dressing room to the stage … It’s not everyday you get such an intimate backstage experience.

We concluded our night at the Mayhem Festival with Bullet For My Valentine’s after party. (Each night a different band is chosen along the tour to throw a party. They are in charge of the booze, the music, and the party theme.) I can’t say much except heavy drinking is involved, and I think there may have been a trophy presentation at some point. It was the end of the tour and everyone was looking to unwind and hang out.

Mayhem FestThat night, after Bullet’s party, I ended up at Vinnie Paul’s Clubhouse for the second night in a row getting a lap dance by an adorable brunette. As Mikey Doling (formerly of Soulfly and Snot) hands me a chilled vodka and soda, my love for this genre of music is reaffirmed. I’ve worked with pop star tarts and reality TV show brats, and there is no other genre of entertainment where everyone from the bands to the management to the crews act so much like a family. For the most part, egos are set aside and everyone parties together. It’s wonderfully refreshing.

But Aug. 16, I am standing in the house of Dimebag Darrell and I am humbled and in awe. Dimebag’s longtime girlfriend Rita Haney lovingly greets us with her Southern charm and thanks us for coming down. And then she takes us on an unabridged tour of her home and Dime’s studio. Rita tells us no one has ever seen or filmed this much of the house before, she’s giving us exclusive access.

The house is a museum of Darrell’s life. Marilyn Manson’s platforms are signed and sitting on top of the TV, a boar’s head protrudes from the wall, Pantera’s Billboard charts are proudly framed and hung, photos and posters, lights and souvenirs, it’s a ‘Metal Graceland’.

Rita entertains us all with stories about Dime, including his endless creativity and how daily he would nail something to the wall or ceiling, adding to his collection. The house was incredibly intimate and personal. I can understand why Rita is hesitant to show many people. We saw Dime and Rita’s master bathroom, they called Dime the ‘S—house Poet’ because he would write stories on the wallpaper, tape up photos and hang his Kiss accessories. Ace Frehley even signed the bathroom mirror. Rita also led us in to the room where she keeps all of Dime’s guitars. I was too afraid to touch anything, but not everyone shared that fear.

Eventually we make our way outside where the motorcycle rally starts to ride by the house. People are throwing up the horns and shouting out for Dime and Rita, it was overwhelming. The bikes didn’t stop for a good 10-15 minutes, there were so many of them and Rita was definitely getting a little emotional from all of the love. We wave the last bike on, they’re headed to the Palladium for the Ride For Dime Bar-B-Que & All-Star jam. There we will interview everyone from Ace Frehley, Vinnie Paul, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Aaron Lewis of Staind and Phil Demmel from Machine Head. All of these guys will perform songs like “Fucking Hostile,” “This Love” & “Cowboys From Hell” and all of the money from ticket sales are donated to Dime’s favorite charities, including Little Kids Rock.

Rita tells us how she feels Dime’s presence in the house, and how she’ll find actual dimes all over and knows it’s Dime messing with her. She tells us you could never have a bad time around Dime, he always wanted to make everyone happy. Even before he was known and they had no money, Dime would bring Rita back soaps from motels and write notes to her and she has kept all of them. The world may have lost an incredible guitarist, but Rita, Vinnie and all of Dime’s close family & friends, lost an amazing person, one whom they all loved and cherished. You can feel the love when you enter that house, but you also can feel the pain and the heaviness of the loss, of what was taken from them.

Thank you so much Rita for sharing your home with us. We are truly honored.

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