Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Case of Mistaken Assumptions.

I prejudged someone I didn't know. Oh, I was familiar with his music, but not the man. And I made a series of assumptions about him based on one thing. His nickname.

On December8,2004, guitarist Darryl Abbott ,formerly of the heavy metal group Pantera was performing with his new band Damage Plan at a night club in Columbus,Ohio when a crazed fan named Nathan Gale appeared with a loaded gun and opened fire. Killed during this senseless act of violence was Abbott and three other innocent people before the police arrived fatally wounding Gale thus ending his wretched existence . It was discovered that Gale's irrational act was perpetrated because he believed that Abbott had stolen song lyrics from him. And as the story of this sick individual came to light,it was also found out that he blamed Abbott for breaking up Pantera,who just happened to be his favorite metal band.

Now to my mind, if you sincerely believe that someone has stolen a song that you've written(some tangible proof would be of great help)then take 'em to court. Or if your favorite band becomes defunct,a band you consider the best thing since the invention of sliced bread, either look for another group to glom onto, or simply content yourself with listening to their existing cd's. Murder is never an option.

I assumed that Darryl Abbott was a drug addict. Did I have first hand knowledge of this? No. And I must confess to you, feeling slightly ashamed and a bit foolish, that it was all because of his nickname:Dimebag Darryl.

Let me lay my cards on the table and say that I'am one hundred percent anti drug. I've known people whom I've deliberately kept at arms length because they were heavily into recreational drugs. I didn't want their problems seeping over into my own life. That's the kind of crap I surely don't need. In fact, I was once booted out of a band I played guitar in during the late eighties called Strange Change(after my departure I referred to them as Drug Change) because of my stance on recreational drugs.

Now, I'm the live and let live type. If I didn't care that the other three members of the band did drugs,they shouldn't care that I didn't. Unfortunately, they didn't afford me the same courtesy. Sometimes during a rehearsal, I would be treated to a pro drug lecture which was intended to sway my point of view over to their side. As far as I was concerned that was fish three days old; I wouldn't buy it. Well, at one rehearsal the drummer thought it would be a real hoot if he took a couple of muscle relaxers. You know, just to see what would happen. The entire rehearsal was a disappointing waste of time since he could barely stay awake, much less keep up a beat.

The other two musicians reaction to this was typical,instead of being angry that the rehearsal was ruined they simply asked if they could have a could have some of his pills. The drummer began handing out muscle relaxers the way one would offer potato chips at a party. When the bottle was given to me I declined and their reaction was one of disdain and utter disapproval; I wasn't one of them. It was soon after this incident that I was kicked to the curb.But, seeing as how they never played anywhere and eventually split up several months later, I really didn't miss out on anything.

Look, I'm no choirboy. In my early twenties I not only smoked pot, I inhaled it as well, unlike President Clinton. Truthfully, it was a blast getting stoned at parties while raucous rock music accompanied these revelries. Then came the negative aspects such as the munchies and feelings of utter paranoia. It was bad enough that I scarfed down snacks and soda following a night a of blowing weed, but becoming paranoid was not much fun as far as I was concerned. When I gave up pot(ta da)the paranoia went away. Luckily, that particular phase of my life was short lived. However, my anti-drug stance emanated from seeing friends and acquaintances screwing up their lives as they went from pot to the harder stuff like pills ,cocaine and heroin.

In the mid seventies, childhood friend of mine , Stuart, happened to run into me at a party and as the two of us puffed on a makeshift pipe( a card board toilet paper roll with a foil bowl) Stuart kept saying that pot wasn't getting him stoned enough and he was going onto harder drugs to get that high which seemed to elude him. The last I heard, Stuart became a total burnout and was eking out a living as best he could existing on limited metal capacities. So much for the fallacy that pot is a harmless drug.

But getting back to Darryl Abbott, I though he must be a drug addict. The reason? I had bought two Pantera tapes at a flea market in 1999 and noticed that he changed his name from Diamond Darryl to Dimebag Darryl. The assumptions took off from there. And when Pantera broke up(I knew nothing about Abbott's new band Damage Plan) I thought Abbott was now spending his time piping away his money, having graduated from pot to cocaine. Of course, this was both erroneous and judgemental. But don't you see? It had to be this way. His nickname was Dimebag Darryl.

Upon his tragic death, I learned the truth about him. Yes, Abbott did smoke pot and drank a lot,( he was the proverbial party animal)but he was also an extremely friendly,charming guy blessed with a sweet and giving nature. In short, he was the kind of person I would have been lucky to count among my friends. But, my assumptions about him were based on my prejudices and narrow minded perceptions. I should have known better. Shame on me for judging someone I didn't know before finding out all of the facts. Shame on me.