On Saturday, June 23, ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante made an appearance on Eddie Trunk's SiriusXM tribute show to Vinnie Paul Abbott, who died one day earlier at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 54. Asked about the first time he met the former PANTERA drummer, Benante said: "The very first time, it was the first time we ever were in Texas. And those guys [PANTERA] were there. We played at this club, and I believe PANTERA were the opening band. A mutual friend of ours, who everybody knows now — Rita [Haney, longtime girlfriend of PANTERA guitarist 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott] — she kind of was the conduit to grouping us together to become friendly. We've known those guys since 1985, and just the two of them, Darrell and Vinnie, after you met those two, it was like you had a friend in Texas, both of them, and they just made the experience so much better, and you immediately bonded. So throughout the years, we just remained friends."
Benante went on to draw a parallel between PANTERA and another legendary rock band which featured siblings who achieved notability together.
"I always equated Dime and Vinnie as, like, Alex and Eddie from VAN HALEN; I always thought PANTERA was like VAN HALEN reborn," he said. "They had a guitar player, who was a hero. The drummers were fucking awesome, but the thing about Vinnie that, I think, not a lot of people know — maybe they do — but from a technical side of things, Vinnie made those PANTERA records sound like that. He was the guy behind it all who was turning the knobs, EQing shit so that his kick drum wasn't fighting with Darrell's fucking chunky guitar. He was a lot of the brains and the glue that held that band together and, basically, pushed that band."
Vinnie Paul apparently died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas. No cause of death was given at press time, but sources close to the drummer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he suffered a "major heart attack."
Vinnie's body had been turned over to the medical examiner to determine an official cause of death, after which his body will be flown to Texas to be buried between his mother and brother.
In December 2004, Dimebag was shot dead onstage at the age of 38 by a deranged gunman as DAMAGEPLAN performed at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio.