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Vinnie Paul, Pantera Drummer and Heavy Metal Innovator, Is Dead at 54

Vincent P. Abbott, the drummer known as Vinnie Paul who was a founder of the heavy metal band Pantera and helped transform the genre in the 1990s, died Friday. He was 54.

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Mihir Zaveri
, New York Times

Vincent P. Abbott, the drummer known as Vinnie Paul who was a founder of the heavy metal band Pantera and helped transform the genre in the 1990s, died Friday. He was 54.

The band confirmed his death in a statement on its Facebook page.

Robert Moseley, a friend of Abbott’s who produced videos for his later band Hellyeah, said Abbott died at his home in Las Vegas. A cause of death was not immediately available.

Pantera was founded in 1981 and rose to prominence in the 1990s, embracing sharper, deeper grooves and harder-edged sounds that pushed the genre into a heavier direction.

The music achieved widespread popularity at a time when metal was declining after the 1980s, said Ian Christe, host of a weekly XM Radio show about the history of heavy metal and the author of “Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal.”

“As a drummer in a larger-than-life band, he was totally capable of hitting hard and rumbling thunder, and hitting every single drum at once,” Christe said of Abbott. “He was a veteran, he was a rock-and-roller from the old school.”

Christe said Pantera drew a large following by being “down to earth.”

“They had that kind of connection to their fans, by releasing home videos that just showed them horsing around, pouring beer on each others’ heads and partying and being wild,” he said.

Moseley said Abbott would invite fans to his home and cook large lobster and steak dinners. Food was Abbott’s second passion after music, he said.

After its first album with the new sound, “Cowboys From Hell,” in 1990, Pantera rose to popularity with “Vulgar Display of Power” in 1992, an album that’s widely considered its masterwork. The group entered the Billboard chart at No. 1 with its 1994 album “Far Beyond Driven,” which sold 1.4 million copies in the United States.

The group disbanded after Pantera’s final album, which was released in 2000, and lead singer Phil Anselmo formed a new band called Superjoint Ritual. In 2003, Abbott and his brother Darrell, who was known as Dimebag Darrell, started a group called Damageplan.

Damageplan released its debut album in February 2004; at a show promoting it in December of that year, Darrell Abbott was fatally shot onstage in Columbus, Ohio. A gunman, who was identified as Nathan M. Gale, a former Marine, stormed the stage just minutes into the band’s performance in front of a crowd of about 250 people. Darrell Abbott and three others were killed.

Damageplan dissolved shortly after the shooting and Abbott went on to play with Hellyeah, a metal supergroup. The band released five albums between 2007 and 2016. In an interview in October, Abbott said the group was making plans to record a new LP.

At the time of his death, Abbott was in Las Vegas recording Hellyeah’s forthcoming album, said Karissa Vassallo, a publicist with the band’s record label, Eleven Seven Music.

Vincent Paul Abbott was born in Abilene, Texas, the son of country songwriter Jerry Abbott. He is survived by his father and his girlfriend, Chelsey Yeager, Vassallo said.

In a 2016 interview with Metal Hammer magazine, Abbott said he started playing drums when he was 14. His brother opted for a guitar and the two of them continued to make music together until Darrell Abbott’s death in 2004.

Abbott said in the interview that music was “always around the house,” and after hearing 1970s metal records like Kiss’ “Alive!” and Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever,” he was hooked.

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