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Pantera Drummer Vinnie Paul Dies at 54

Vinnie Paul, drummer for Pantera, Damageplan and Hellyeah, has died at the age of 54, according to his label and a post on Pantera’s Facebook page. No cause of death was disclosed.

Paul, whose real name was Vincent Paul Abbott, was born in Abilene, Texas and co-founded Pantera in 1981 with his brother, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. The group spent several years as a pop-leaning metal outfit before joining forces with singer Phil Anselmo and adopting a heavier direction — dubbed “power groove” by the band — late in the decade. The sound caught on, they signed with Atlantic subsidiary Atco and released their “Cowboys From Hell” album in 1990. Their popularity rose through tours with Suicidal Tendencies and later Judas Priest, and they performed in Moscow with Metallica and AC/DC in 1991. Pantera quickly became one of the most vital hard-rock acts of the decade, via the albums “Vulgar Display of Power” (a title adopted from the film “The Exorcist”), “Far Beyond Driven” and “The Great Southern Trendkill.” The band splintered as Anselmo struggled with substance abuse and made controversial comments onstage, and went on hiatus after releasing “Reinventing the Steel” in 2000 and broke up acrimoniously in 2003.

The brothers joined forces with vocalist Pat Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla as Damageplan and released their debut album, “New Found Power,” in 2004, but tragedy struck on Dec. 8 of that year when Darrell was fatally shot onstage in Columbus, Ohio, by a deranged fan.

In 2006, Paul formed Hellyeah with members of Mudvayne and Nothingface. The group released five albums and was reported to have begun work on a sixth late last year.

A statement from Hellyear’s label Eleven Seven reads in part: “Vinnie Paul Abbott wasn’t just a drummer, he was an iconic fixture in the metal and hard rock community, a pioneer, and an absolute legend. He was a self taught drummer who went on to win many awards for his impeccable skills throughout his career. Today, the world not only lost a legend, but also a genuine human being who lived to put a smile on the faces of everyone he met. May he be reunited with his brother as we all strive to continue his legacy.”

Paul and his brother were lifelong Kiss fans, and that band’s singer Paul Stanley said via Twitter late Friday, “ So sad to hear of the death of Vinnie Paul. Loved when Pantera did shows with us and in later years Vinnie was always front and center at all KISS shows. RIP and condolences to his family.”

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