Vincent “Vinnie Paul” Abbott was an award-winning drummer and musician. He was born in Abilene, Texas, on March 11, 1964, to country-western songwriter and producer Jerry Bob Abbott and Norma Carolyn Adkisson. His musician father encouraged him to switch from playing tuba to the drums at an early age. He lived in the small enclave of Dalworthington Gardens and attended James Bowie High School in Arlington, where he played on the drum line in the school band. He was influenced by drummers of the 1970s, including John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Keith Moon of The Who, Neil Peart of Rush, Peter Criss of KISS, and Alex Van Halen of Van Halen.
In 1981 Vinnie Paul Abbott cofounded the band Pantera in Arlington with his guitarist brother Darrell “Diamond” Lance Abbott (later known as “Dimebag”). The heavy metal/glam metal band replaced several early members before releasing three albums, with Terry Glaze providing vocals and Rex Brown on bass guitar. Jerry Abbott recorded and produced Metal Magic (1983), Projects in the Jungle (1984), and I Am the Night (1985) at Pantego Sound Studio in Arlington and released the albums on the band-owned label Metal Magic Records. Vinnie Paul spent extra time at the studio and learned the craft of audio recording from his father, whom he later emulated. In early 1987 the band replaced Glaze with an intense new vocalist named Phil Anselmo from New Orleans, Louisiana. The release of Power Metal (1988) noted a distinct change towards a heavier rock sound known as “power groove.” Vinnie Paul handled business affairs for the group, but in 1989 the band formed a relationship with Walter O’Brien at Concrete Management, who served as their manager until 2003.
Atco Records signed Pantera by 1990, and the band subsequently released Cowboys From Hell (1990), which gained national attention from the singles “Cemetery Gates” and “Cowboys From Hell.” From 1990 to 1992 Vinnie Paul Abbott played a six-piece Tama drum set that included two bass drums and numerous cymbals. Throughout his career he used Sabian cymbals and Vic Firth drumsticks (which created a signature model stick for him). The band gained popularity throughout the 1990s with the change to thrash metal/groove metal and ultimately sold more than twenty million albums. Pantera subsequently released Vulgar Display of Power (1992), and Far Beyond Driven (1994), which debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. While recording and touring for those albums Vinnie Paul switched to Remo drums and drumheads. These three albums from Pantera eventually received platinum sales status.
Pantera became well-known within the rock music community for raucous alcohol-fueled parties while on tour and back at home. The Abbott brothers consumed and popularized an alcoholic drink known as the “Black Tooth Grin” that consisted of Crown Royal or Seagram 7 whiskey and Coca-Cola. In 1995 singer Phil Anselmo began struggling with addiction to prescription pills and heroin, which became a source of tension within the band.
Vinnie Paul and his brother built a personal recording studio named Chasin’ Jason Studios in the backyard of Darrell’s home in Dalworthington Gardens, Texas, where the band recorded albums for Pantera and subsequent bands. Pantera released The Great Southern Trendkill (1996) amid internal conflicts and poor communication. From 1996 until 2008 Vinnie Paul endorsed Pearl drums, which developed a signature snare drum for him with a snakeskin finish. Pantera wrote the song “Puck Off” for the Dallas Stars in 1999 during the team’s Stanley Cup run. Subsequently, according to some attendees, during a spirited celebration party hosted by Vinnie Paul, the Stanley Cup was dented after Stars player Guy Carbonneau attempted to throw the cup from the upper balcony into a swimming pool. Pantera released their final album Reinventing the Steel (2000) and played their final show at Yokohama, Japan, on August 26, 2001. Pantera officially disbanded in 2003 following years of tension and disagreements between Anselmo and the Abbott brothers.
In 2003 Vinnie Paul Abbott cofounded the band Damageplan with his brother Dimebag, Bob Zilla, and Pat Lachman. They released New Found Power (2004) and toured to support the album. On December 8, 2004, a deranged Pantera fan shot and killed Dimebag Darrell Abbott onstage at Alrosa Villa Nightclub in Columbus, Ohio. Vinnie Paul escaped to safety offstage amid the chaos and rushed to the hospital, where he learned the fate of his brother. Damageplan disbanded shortly after the tragic events of 2004. The death of Darrell deeply affected Vinnie Paul, who took an eighteen-month hiatus from music. His permanent estrangement from Phil Anselmo assured that a Pantera reunion never occurred, despite relentless encouragement from enthusiastic fans.
Vinnie Paul formed Big Vin Records in February 2006 and co-wrote a monthly question-and-answer column with Cristina Scabbia in Revolver magazine. That same year he joined the heavy metal band Hellyeah, which included Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett from Mudvayne and Tom Maxwell from Nothingface. The band signed with Epic Records and released two albums: Hellyeah (2007) and Stampede (2010). In 2008 Vinnie Paul endorsed Evans drumheads, Roland electronics, Nuemann sport gloves, and ddrum, which offered his signature series of drums. Hellyeah switched to Eleven Seven Music and released Band of Brothers (2012), Blood for Blood (2014), and Undeniable (2016). Abbott recorded drum tracks for the album Welcome Home (2019) prior to his death.
Vinne Paul Abbott’s final musical performance was with Viva La Muerte on June 18, 2018, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Resort at Las Vegas. He died from dilated cardiomyopathy and coronary heart disease on June 22, 2018, at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was buried next to his mother Carolyn and brother Dimebag at Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Arlington on June 30 in a custom “KISS Kasket” provided by KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
A public memorial held at the Bomb Factory in Dallas on July 1, 2018, was attended by longtime girlfriend Chelsey Yeager and hundreds of musicians, friends, and fans. He was later honored by his former bandmates on May 11, 2019, with the “Hellyeah: Celebrating the Life of Vinnie Paul Abbott” event at the House of Blues at the Mandalay Bay Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, where Hellyeah played its first show since his passing. Clark County in Nevada proclaimed the day to be “Vinnie Paul Day.” A custom grave marker was installed at his gravesite on May 24, 2019, with the inscription: “Don’t ever think it’s not a good time, If you do think it’s not a good time, A good time is a good time, A bad time is a bad time, And a wonderful time is irreplaceable. Hellyeah!”