What do you think of when you hear the name “Dimebag Darrell?”
Most people would say that it would be his true talents and mark that he left on music. Yes, this is in fact what I think of as well. However, there is much more to it. Amidst the greats, there are other flaws and aspects of them that can outshine talent. Poor character, or mistreatment of others, for example. From what I gather, Dime was nothing but gracious and kind. This is why he is the greatest ever.
Dimebag brought us metal fans some of the finest and most prolific music ever. He was a titan of a player, someone who pushed all boundaries on the guitar and in songwriting. He was the idol of a generation, a master, but moreover his spirit and generosity and character were almost larger than his playing. The man left countless riffs, leads, parts, and song structures, possessing character and the larger than life persona that had me glued to the television before I was even a teenager. “Vulgar Videos From Hell” were my favorite thing to watch as a younger guy – even though I had to sneak them, as my parents would have been completely appalled by what I was watching. Sorry, Mom!
I should say that Dimebag is still one of the only musicians I never had the pleasure of meeting. Any individual in a band that has gone from being in the crowd, to the massive stages, say there is a certain innocence lost once this process takes place. Part of this innocence is when you rub elbows with your true heroes. Sometimes the encounters are great and sometimes they are not – both instances impact your feelings significantly. I believe that when you long to be onstage that there is almost something better than actually getting the chance to do so. This is more about my own experience meeting my heroes, and the opportunities. Although very saddened to have never met Dimebag, he is like Cliff Burton to me; immortal, a larger than life character and the stories that I hear are almost of folklore.
Yes, I mentioned stories – there are tons of them. There have been evenings where I have spent time with some of his closest friends and listening to these truly amazing tales of not only drunken madness and good times, but a selfless individual who was all about giving to others and never wanted the spotlight to be on him. He was, in fact, a God amongst men. No one will ever be able to touch his abilities or his spirit. Interestingly enough, Dimebag shares a birthday with my dad (August 20th) and my father, like Dimebag is also a truly selfless man. He has dedicated his life to helping others and like Dime, is recognized at being one of the top persons in his respected field of Cardiology. Yes, he has been voted in the top percentile of doctors in the United States – but you would never know it. He is modest and humble and so beyond giving that it is almost hard to comprehend.
I remember hearing a story about Dime doing an in-store signing somewhere here in the U.S. and a young boy approached him with his dad, to tell him how he was his biggest influence. The father proceeded to tell Dimebag how he was saving up money to buy his son a guitar. He was working really hard to come up with the money but times were obviously very tough. Now, I have to say this comes from a very reliable source, but at the end of the signing he took the dad in the back of the store with the owner and told them to go pick out a guitar for his young son. He didn’t want take the credit in front of everyone who was lined up. He just wanted to give something back to someone less fortunate than him and he did it out of all the most selfless reasons.
Of all the incredible stories I have heard about Dimebag, it is this one that stands out the most. The generosity and character almost surpass the uber-talent that he achieved and the mark he left on the music scene. How many bands have been able to achieve so much with only one guitarist? It is almost unfathomable to even comprehend. I cannot listen to one riff, song, or solo of his repertoire that does not truly blow my mind. But I also can listen to the stories and hear of a man that was so giving and caring, and above all loved people and music.
Talent can measure a man as the greatest, but it is more than mere abilities that define him. How that person deals with their talent is more a measure of them than their skills. The whole concept of ego comes into play. There are many truly great people in this world but some of them, as talented as they are, do not display the character of someone worthy of such greatness. Having compassion, humility and reverence for others defines greatness. Self-absorbtion, arrogance, and self-importance display the mark of someone not worthy of their talents and I feel this greatly overshadows them in a negative way. This, to me, is why Dime was the greatest, because of his nature to make it about everyone else and not him. The guy sold millions of records, won everything, and was admired by fans the world over. Everyone knew he was great but he never acted on it at all. He was what true legends are really made of.