Pantera Drummer Vinnie Paul Dead at 54

Pantera co-founder Vinnie Paul is dead at 54, the leading 1990s heavy metal band has announced.

Using social media, the band gave few details, except that the drummer, whose real name was Vincent Paul Abbott, died on Friday, and was "best known for his work as the drummer in the bands Pantera and Hellyeah".

Paul, who had played since 2006 with metal group Hellyeah, started Pantera as a teenager in 1981 with his brother, Dimebag Darrell, in their native Texas.

First playing glam metal with a series of other members, the band turned much darker and heavier with new singer Phil Anselmo, who pushed the band in the direction of thrash metal starting with the 1988 album Power Metal.

The group eventually pioneered the influential groove metal sub-genre beginning on 1990's Cowboys From Hell.

Pantera remained successful through the 1990s even as grunge rock overwhelmed much of the metal scene. The albums Vulgar Display of Power in 1992 and two years later Far Beyond Driven were globally successful.

The band's best known single was Cemetery Gates.

The Abbott brothers founded a successor group, Damageplan, after Pantera broke up in 2003. Dimebag Darrell was shot dead on stage during a Damageplan concert in December 2004 in Ohio by a deranged fan who killed three people before being slain by police.

Vinnie Paul later joined Hellyeah.

Eleven Seven Music, Hellyeah's record label, described Paul as "an iconic fixture in the metal and hard rock community, a pioneer, and an absolute legend ... who lived to put a smile on the faces of everyone he met," in a statement on Saturday. "May he be reunited with his brother as we all strive to continue his legacy."

The Abbott brothers often spoke of their inspiration to start playing music together as fans of theatrical rock ban Kiss, whose co-founder Paul Stanley mourned Vinny Paul on Twitter.

"Loved when Pantera did shows with us, and in later years Vinnie was always front and center at all KISS shows," Stanley wrote.

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, part of the same generation of heavy metal musicians, tweeted: "Vinnie, your incredible hospitality and warm vibe was infectious and inspiring. Here's to another shot of Crown Royal."

Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine, whose band played on Saturday at the Graspop festival in Belgium, called Paul a friend.

"Another metal hero taken too soon," Mustaine tweeted. "Say hello to Daryl for me."


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