Dimebag: The Prodigy
In the early 80s, somewhere in the modest city of Arlington, a mercurial young Texan was starting to raise a few eyebrows. Here’s where it all began...
Such was the impact of Dimebag Darrell’s extraordinary musical gifts on our world that we could be forgiven for imagining that this legendary six-string wizard was actually born with a guitar in his hand and the skills to make it sing. The truth isn’t too far away from that vision, however. Having come from an intensely music-driven background and strongly influenced by their father Jerry’s passion for country music, both Darrell and his drumming brother Vinnie were plainly destined to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the rock’n’roll realm.
Pantera began in earnest in 1982 in Arlington, Texas, when the Abbott brothers focused their nascent plans for world domination and joined forces with fellow high school students Terry Glaze and Rex Brown, on vocals and bass respectively. Initially, at least, Pantera were just another high school band with dreams of glory and only a rudimentary grasp of the technical skill required to propel themselves to popularity, but as Terry Glaze recalls, that all changed when Darrell hit his stride.
“You know, Darrell was just a kid with a guitar at the very beginning,” he recalls. “But at some point he disappeared into his bedroom for, like, six months. When he came out he could play Eruption by Van Halen, note for note. That’s when I realised he had the potential to be something special. No other young band in Texas had a guitarist that could play like Darrell. There were a lot of great bands and musicians, but he was on a different level.”
Ably supported by Jerry Abbott, Pantera spent the next few years gigging relentlessly across Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, playing to anyone and everyone that would give them a shot – in either sense of the word – and building a fearsome reputation along the way. Although somewhat primitive and derivative, the band’s first two albums, Metal Magic and Projects In The Jungle, added plenty of fuel to their formative fire while hinting at a future beyond the glitzy hard rock that had been the bedrock of Pantera’s sound in those early years.