Monday, June 25, 2018

VINNIE PAUL: A Personal Tribute to a Rock Legend

Photo: Karen Romano Adams -
A Personal Tribute
to a Rock Legend

A famous rock star for whom
I worked years ago once told
me, "All we have in life is
our reputation." If that's true,
then Vinnie Paul was quite a
wealthy man, to be sure!

Simply put, Vinnie Paul revolutionized drumming in the 1990s the same way Eddie Van Halen revolutionized guitar playing in the 1970s — he turned the whole game upside down. In fact, upon the release of the platinum-selling, landmark 1990 album, Cowboys from Hell, Paul's band, Pantera, also revolutionized the entire world of heavy metal — precisely at the time when the genre was most in need of a game-changing kick in the ass. Almost overnight, an entire generation of new drummers (and more than a few seasoned players) were taping quarters to their kick drum heads, in an attempt recreate Paul's signature drum sound. Truth be told, the ripple effect of Paul's influence on modern hard rock drumming can still be seen to this day.

Arguably THE most groundbreaking
hard rock / metal record of all time!
I vividly can recall both the first and last times I saw Vinnie Paul perform live. The first was in South Florida, near the end of 1991. Pantera now had blown up HUGE. The band's Cowboys follow-up record, Vulgar Display of Power was set to arrive just a few months later, and the club was packed to the rafters. Driven by Paul's ferocious drumming, and fueled by the equally revolutionary guitar style of his younger brother, Dimebag Darrell, the band's performance was potent, to say the least. As for frontman Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown, what they brought to the live Pantera concert experience was simply brutal. I would enjoy experiencing MANY more live Pantera concerts over the next six years.

"A Decade of Domination," indeed!
The last time I saw Vinnie Paul perform live was equally memorable. Although there were several big-name bands scheduled to perform that night, I only had interest in seeing one of them —  Hellyeah. I'd seen the band in concert previously, back in 2011. But on that steamy night in July 2016, I hadn't come out to Orlando's Hard Rock Live for Hellyeah, the band. I'd ventured out specifically to see Hellyeah's drummer — the one and only, Vinnie Paul. It was so cool — as the house lights dropped, signaling the commencement of Hellyeah's set, the crowd offered a moderate rumble of approval. However, fans went absolutely berserk when a tiny spotlight appeared between the drums' two tom-toms — revealing Vinnie Paul's animated-looking face, grinning wildly while twirling one of his drumsticks. As always, his performance was masterful.

Over the years I've met and worked with many music industry professionals  and I've never met even one insider (or fan) who has ever had even one slightly negative thing to say about Vinnie Paul. He truly was admired and loved by all — which makes the recent news of his passing on June 22 all the more tragic, and the sense of loss even greater. I never had the opportunity to connect personally with the man — I sure wish I had. Fortunately, I still have many memories of great times seeing him perform live in a couple of his different bands. And as one of his many fans around the world, we'll ALL have Vinnie Paul's recorded music to enjoy forever. Thanks, dude — RIP!

-Christopher Long
(June 2018)

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C'MON! -

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