t was about a quarter after one in the afternoon yesterday, June 23rd when I got the news. A friend of mine had texted me a few hours earlier, the message read simply, "Vinnie Paul? Fuck." I knew exactly what it meant, and it was too much for me to handle. I ignored all the other notifications on my phone, sat it back on the nightstand and rolled over and went back to sleep. I didn't want to be awake that day. I hoped that going back to sleep would mean that I could wake up from the nightmare. Several hours later I awoke to find it was all true. The outpouring of tributes on social media proved it. No one had a cause, not that it mattered. A huge part of rock and roll is gone, and it doesn't matter why or how.
Vincent Paul Abbott died at 54 years old leaving behind a legacy that will go on for time immemorial. His impact on the music world is immeasurable. Listen to "Mouth For War" from Vulgar Display Of Power by PANTERA and you'll hear what every hard rock drummer aspires to be. I remember the first time I saw Vinnie Paul, it was the Far Beyond Driven tour. As an adolescent, it was a thrill; a tour immersed in such publicized debauchery, a bad-ass band, whiskey, beer, weed, rocker chicks, what more could a teenage boy want? The first hit of the kick drum, I felt all the way down to my toes. By the end of the first song, having felt every beat in my carotid artery, I was convinced that Vinnie Paul's playing was the only thing keeping my blood pumping. As a young drummer, it was an experience that would leave a mark that I still bare today. I was awestruck by the ability, precision, and command that Vinnie Paul possessed. In the middle of their performance of "Fucking Hostile" a fan went down and was seriously injured in the mosh pit. The band stopped mid-song and singer Phil Anselmo stood on a monitor demanding the house lights turned on and directing a path for paramedics to get through the tightly packed throng to the fallen fan. After the medics pulled out the unfortunate victim, PANTERA picked up exactly where they had left off, in perfect unison, like they did it every night. I knew at once that I was seeing what it truly meant to be connected to your bandmates and fans. I heard later that Vinnie Paul and the rest of PANTERA left a personal note and several personalized autographed items, including a personal "Get Well" note the Vinnie wrote on a drumhead. He was much more than one of the hardest hitting drummers in metal, he was also a class act, and a hell of a nice guy.
I was fortunate enough to see Vinnie Paul perform live several times; each one was unforgettable. He always was at the top of his game. He will live on forever in his music and in the stories we have about him. Whether you knew him personally, met him briefly, or only knew him through live performances or his playing on any PANTERA, DAMAGEPLAN, REBEL MEETS REBEL, or HELLYEAH records, you have a Vinnie Paul story. I encourage you to share it. Share it with us, with your friends, on social media, with kids just being introduced to him, anybody, and everybody. Keep him alive as long as we can. I don't think I can stand a world without Vinnie Paul in it. I don't think any of us could.