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Obituary: 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott

"Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was fatally shot during a performance, was a frenetic, ear-shattering guitarist whose riffs for Pantera (search) and more recently Damageplan (search) were a staple of heavy metal music. He was 38.

Abbott was shot to death as he took the stage Wednesday with Damageplan and began to play the first song of the concert at the Alrosa Villa (search) nightclub in Columbus, Ohio.

Three other people also were fatally shot before a police officer shot to death the gunman.

The deaths shook the heavy metal music industry as colleagues reeled from the news and fans flooded Web sites to share their grief.

"This is insane and this is beyond travesty," Killswitch Engage (search) frontman and former Damageplan tour partner Howard Jones told MTV. "This is beyond anything I've ever heard. This shouldn't happen in or outside of the rock and metal community. He will be missed and mourned as a person, as a musician, and as a friend."

Rob Blasko Nicholson, the former Ozzy Osbourne bassist, told the music channel Abbott was a legend.

"I'm speechless," he said. "This is totally unreal."

"When you think of '90s heavy metal or hard rock, Pantera is one of these seminal bands. They are quoted today as influences by many bands," said Tom Calderone, MTV's executive vice president. "Hard rock has lost a legendary guitar player."

Abbott and his brother, former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, produced Damageplan's debut album, "New Found Power," which was released in February. Other band members are vocalist Patrick Lachman and bassist Bob "Zilla" Kakaha.

"Damageplan carries on the tradition Pantera started, the ... hell-raising tradition we were all about," Vinnie Paul Abbott told The Dallas Morning News in October. "We do play some Pantera songs. Me and Dime wrote them, and we feel like we have the right to play them. But the focus is on Damageplan."

Born on Aug. 20, 1966, in Dallas, Darrell Abbott and his brother were introduced to music by their father, country songwriter Jerry Abbott (search), who owned a recording studio.

Although Abbott grew up around country music, he often said he gravitated toward rock music and was influenced by the likes of guitarists Tony Iommi (search) of Black Sabbath, Ace Frehley (search) of Kiss, Eddie Van Halen (search) and the late Randy Rhodes (search), Ozzy Osbourne's post-Sabbath guitar player.

The Abbott brothers and bassist Rex "Rocker" Brown formed Pantera in 1983. Abbott then went by the name "Diamond Darrell," but later began to use "Dimebag," a drug-buying reference, and was often referred to as "Dime" by fans and friends.

Pantera's early music leaned more toward hard rock. Joined in 1987 by singer Phil Anselmo (search), the band began to develop a heavier sound.

After releasing a few independent albums, Pantera signed with Atlantic Records in 1990. It was also the period when Abbott came into his own as a guitar player, developing his heavy, frenetic sound that can first be heard on the 1990 album "Cowboys from Hell" and on the 1992 standout "Vulgar Display of Power." It was followed up by 1994's "Far Beyond Driven."

Pantera's manager Kim Zide-Davis, who worked with Abbott 1994 to 2003, was overwhelmed by the news of his death. She told the AP she often told the guitarist he was "a living cartoon character."

"He would do things that you wouldn't believe a real person was capable of," she said.

She said there was a sweet and caring side of Abbott that many people never saw.

"Everything you saw from him was real. That was who he was," she said. "He lived and unfortunately died by his guitar. What you saw on stage was his enjoyment."

Abbott and his brother left Pantera in 2003 and formed Damageplan. In recent years, he also made recording appearances on Nickleback's "The Long Road" and with one of his influences, Kiss' Ace Frehley.

Dozens of messages were posted to the Dallas band's Web site after the shootings.

"This is the worst day in metal history," one posting read.

"The metal world feels your pain," another wrote.