Pantera and Hellyeah drummer Vinnie Paul dead at 54
Pantera and Hellyeah drummer Vincent Paul Abbott, a.k.a. Vinnie Paul, died on Friday night (June 22nd) at the age of 54. He 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.” A message at the Pantera Facebook page read, “Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul has passed away. Paul is best known for his work as the drummer in the bands Pantera and Hellyeah. No further details are available at this time. The family requests you please respect their privacy during this time.”
Born on March 11th, 1964 in Abilene, Texas to country singer and songwriter Jerry Abbott and his wife Carolyn, Vinnie and his brother, guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, founded Pantera in 1981 along with bassist Rex Brown. After three moderately hard-rocking independent albums, the band recruited singer Philip Anselmo and evolved into a much heavier-sounding act. Their 1990 major label debut, Cowboys From Hell, made them pioneers of a new kind of sound that combined thrash metal riffing with grinding groove-laden rhythms and an almost industrial precision.
Pantera became one of the most influential metal bands of the ’90s, churning out classic albums like Vulgar Display Of Power and Far Beyond Driven, the latter of which hit Number One on the Billboard 200 chart. When the band broke up in the early 2000s due to tensions between the Abbotts and Anselmo, the brothers started a new band called Damageplan.
But that came to an end on December 8th, 2004, when Darrell Abbott was shot dead onstage at the age of 38 by a deranged gunman as the band performed at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio. Vinnie never spoke with Phil Anselmo again after his brother’s death, feeling that some less than kind things Anselmo said about Darrell in the press may have set the killer off.
Two years after his brother’s death, Vinnie returned to music with the group Hellyeah, which also featured members of Mudvayne and Nothingface. The band has released five albums together over the past decade, most recently 2016’s Unden!able, and were most recently working on their sixth studio effort. Vinnie was said to have finished his drum tracks for the new LP.
While Vinnie Paul managed to carve out a second phase to his career even after the horrific tragedy of what happened to his brother, it’s his staccato drumming and thunderous sound of Pantera for which he’ll be most remembered — as the backbeat for one of the most influential metal acts of all time.
At press time 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.