During his short, spectacular life — he was just 38 years old the night he was brutally murdered — as a guitar god with the bands Pantera and Damageplan, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was a living, breathing, walking, talking, and yes often drinking — heavy metal caricature.
His transformation from a scrawny guitar prodigy barely big enough to hold the instrument — let alone play it as well as he did — to take his place amongst the ranks of the rock stars he idolized as a kid growing up in Texas is the sort of stuff that rock and roll dreams are made of.
In Black Tooth Grin, which is named for the whiskey and coke concoction that was Abbott's preferred drink of choice (and which was never too far away from his lips), former Dallas Observer music editor Zac Crain recounts Abbott's rise to stardom in Pantera, up to his murder on December 8, 2004 while performing onstage with Damageplan in a Columbus, Ohio nightclub.
Crain neither dwells too heavily on the details of that tragic night, nor does this book really shed any new light on them. Still, his recounting of that event — which some metal fans still call the "9/11 of heavy metal" — as remembered by those who were actually there is chilling.
What becomes clear is that Abbott's murder, which took place 24 years to the day after the murder of John Lennon, was exactly what it appears to be - a senseless act by an apparently deranged fan.
Despite the significance of the date, you won't find any conspiracy theories here, but rather just eerie, tragic coincidence. The stories about how Nathan Gale was heard to have said something to Abbott about how "you broke up Pantera" before brutally killing him are as meaningless now as they were on that horrific night.