Thursday, December 09, 2004

Pointless Evil

A bad day for rock stars, I guess. Last night, December 8, 2004, Dimebag Darrell (Abbott), currently of a band called Damageplan, but mostly of Pantera, a major player in the metal scene, as respected a heavy metal guitarist as there is out there, was shot dead, on stage, by a fan of some kind - who came in yelling about Phil Anselmo, but that seems rather beside the point.

It is very strange. Surreal and terrible. I am not a metal fan, I have heard the bare minimum of Pantera’s music - I remember it as being, like most thrash metal, kind of dull, with moments of flash that don’t quite justify its existence. But I don’t know how fair that is.

But I am aware, from reading various magazines, of Dimebag’s importance in that world. And the culture of metal is interesting in a way - it’s like superhero comics - something that I don’t much care about in itself, but which can be fascinating to think about from outside. And sometimes from inside. So somehow, this comes off all disproportionate to the place he had in my life. I mean - it is always horrible when something like this happens, when someone is shot and killed - but usually, even famous people are strangers to me. This is not like John Lennon’s death - not someone I, personally, cared about in any special way. But for some reason, it looms very large.

Larger, say, than Tupac - who, like Dimebag, I had heard of, heard some music by, considered good enough in his area, just not something I cared all that much about. I don't know why, but Dimebag's death seems more significant, somehow. Is it because it happened yesterday? December 8? Is it the fact that it was a bloodbath - a guy jumping on stage and opening fire on the band and the crowd? Is it because I’d read so many references to Dimebag? Or was I jaded about Tupac, after his arrests and stabbings and feuds and everything, his death came as the logical next step - while this comes completely out of the blue?

Probably a little bit of all of it. What this reminds me of is when I heard that Peter Tosh had been shot, back in the 80s. Tosh was an artist I’d heard a little, heard of a lot more - he represented a whole genre of music (far more than Tupac could) that I respected without knowing much about. And his murder was shocking and strange, came completely from left field - it was very discomfiting, it made me very aware of the sense of losing something I never had. It’s that odd sense of vertigo that comes from having someone who had been a vague presence I should know more about suddenly become real by dieing.

That's how I feel about Dimebag. I don't know how else to describe it. It's absurd and horrible all out of scale with what I knew of him when he was alive.

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