Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell to Guitarist Michael Angelo Batio: “I got your instructional program. You’re like my guitar teacher.” – 2022 – Interview – Vinnie Paul

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On Pantera Guitarist Dimebag Darrell:

Michael Angelo Batio:

I had the one called ‘The Star Licks Video’ before ‘Speed Kills.’ I was still playing locally in Los Angeles. I hadn’t been signed with Nitro, but it was after the band Holland. That was right around when I did the first instructional program and people like John Petrucci (Dream Theater) watched it, got the idea of Jazz IIIs (guitar picks) because I always use jazz picks. He studied it. Michael Romeo from Symphony X, he told me he studied it, and then one of the biggest ones was Dime. Dime saw me in concert before they were big.

‘Cowboys from Hell’ had just come out. I hadn’t even done ‘Speed Kills’ yet. We were in Florida recording our second album, ‘Nitro II: H.W.D.W.S.,’ and we went to this little club. Nobody was there except for the band. We knew the bartenders there, so we were just hanging out. Then my guitar tech, he went by Dragon, he said: “Dude, you’ve got to hear this band, bro. They rule, dude.” You know, he was from Fresno.

So, I go there to see this unknown band named Pantera. Nobody was in the crowd. I’m standing in the audience, and I see this dude come out with this beard and these long shorts. This is the era of Larry Bird with the little, short shorts. He’s got these long shorts on and we’re thinking, “Boy, he looks out there.” And here we are, these L.A. hair metal guys, “No, we don’t look weird.” And he actually stopped, there was nobody around me for ten feet. There was nobody there, literally. ‘Cowboys from Hell’ had just been released and we’re in Orlando, Florida, and all of sudden Dime goes, “Is that Michael Angelo?” I’m like, “Yeah, dude.” He goes: “I got your instructional program. You’re like my guitar teacher, man.” And then he goes, “Pantera’s going to dedicate tonight’s set to Michael Angelo,” and I was just floored.

I had heard those songs from ‘Cowboys from Hell.’ I was already a fan before and, of course, shortly after that, they exploded. That album just blew up. But I talked to Dime afterwards, and we just got to be really friendly.

I was with Washburn for a while in the ’90s with Dime. So, we would do like in-stores together, and I got to know him really well. He was supposed to play on one of my albums called ‘Hands Without Shadows.’ The next tour stop was Chicago before he got shot. We were just devastated.

On Pantera Drummer Vinnie Paul:

I know this is off topic, but I knew Vinnie Paul and his brother pretty well. And because of Dean, you know, Vinnie was with Ddrum and that was a Dean company. We would go to Europe and we would congregate in these different music expos, like in Frankfurt, Germany.

Vinnie used to have a bodyguard at that time called Cowboy. So, it was me, Vinnie, David Vincent from Morbid Angel, who is our close friend. We were sitting down to have a really nice dinner in Germany, and we’re drinking beer. Vinnie told me…and I would never ask in a million years what happened. How rude can that be?… But Vinnie talked to me about it, about what happened on stage (The mass shooting at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio where four people were murdered and three others were wounded. One of those murdered was Vinnie’s brother, Dimebag Darrell).

He goes, “Man, the only thing that saved me was my drums.” He said the guy was pointing the gun right at his face and shooting, and the bullets were ricocheting off the hardware of his drums. To this day, I can still picture sitting there and me and David didn’t say a word. I mean, no comment. I didn’t ask him about it, but I can only imagine the feeling of that, you know, at point blank range. To live through that ordeal, it was just something else.