I got home last night from a great gig in Waterford to the news of Vinnie Paul's passing. As soon as I saw a picture my friend had texted me, I got a bad feeling that we had lost someone. My inkling was right. We had lost VP.
The first time I'd ever met him was at a dinner thing with the entire Pantera band around 1993. I don't remember a lot about that, except that the guys kinda kept to themselves. I'd see them here and there throughout the years. With White Zombie, Ozzy on OzzFest, and so on.
It was in January of 2004 when I started to form a relationship with VP. I was told that a band called Damageplan was coming by the studio to promote their debut record. At the time, no one really knew who they were. After a little bit of research it became clear that the Abbott boys had started a new band. They came by the station and you instantly felt the bond the guys, especially the brothers, had. Vp and Dime would almost finish each other sentences. Perhaps, when I get back to work I'll post some of the interview on my Radio Chatter podcast so you can hear how these two guys were in total sync with each other. By the end of that year we had lost Dimebag.
The next time I interviewed VP was, ironically, when we got to know each other. Let me explain. It was about a year and a half after Dime was gunned down on stage. One of my first questions to VP was "Why didn't you guys let Phil Anselmo come to the funeral?". He responded with a stock, but kind "I don't want to comment on that" and we moved on. I cut that :10 part of the interview out when it aired. The rest of the interview kicked ass! A couple days later VP and his manager called my boss and complained that I threw him under the bus with the question, which no one ever heard because I cut it out. My boss told him that he heard the interview and it sounded great. I felt bad for trying the TMZ him. It bothered me because he had always been good to me.
At the time I was playing hockey with the NHL guys during the lockout and had become good friends with Nick Lidstrom. Shortly before his new band Hell Yeah came through town, I had Nick sign a picture to Vinnie as an apology for me stepping over the line. Nick wrote on a picture of himself on the ice "To Vinnie...Keep Up The Good Work". I had it framed and took it to the venue. I approached one of his handlers and showed him what I had. He said "Yeah, Vinnie's going to want to talk to you". I gave it to him as a peace offering with an apology, which he said wasn't necessary, and we moved on as friends. He would tell me later that the picture hung in his pool room at home.
I bumped into him here and there over the next several years and he always had a smile and kind word for me. I remember landing in Vegas a couple years ago around 9:30PM local time and getting to my hotel. I dropped my stuff off in my room and went right to the casino. I hadn't even had my first drink when Vinnie walked by. I shouted his name, he looked over and came by to say hello. The next night I went to see Shinedown at the Joint in the Hard Rock. I took our sales managers husband backstage to see the guys before hand. That was a great experience for him as it was. But then we walked by VP's private upstairs suite at the show. I stuck my fist out and just said "VP!", to which he yelled back with his own fist bump "What's up, Meltdown!". Now the guy with me was floored. He couldn't believe the night he was having!
The last time I saw him was at a Steel Panther show in Vegas back in November. To say he'd been over served is an understatement. He had just come from the GNR show. The venue let him and his group in first. When I got in, I went to the bar to get a cocktail, and VP was about 5 or 6 feet away from me. I yelled out "Hey, VP......It's Meltdown". You see, I had to say my name because there was no way he was going to see me. LOL. Looking down he just respond "Meltdown....from Detroit?". He brought me over and we hung for a bit. Steel Panther went on stage at midnight.....with no sign of Vinnie in the house! HA!
I would text him from time to time over the next several months, mostly about hockey. He always respond. He loved his emoji's, too. Especially the American flag one. We texted a lot during the final round. He'd send me pictures or video of him in the arena and what not. The last text I sent, about a week and a half ago, was asking if he'd come on my podcast to talk about hockey and what's going on with the band. No response, but that's cool. He didn't owe me.
I always felt that he was lost without his brother. He would bring him up a lot. The feeling he gave me was that he really wanted to be with his brother and a huge chuck off him left in December of 2004. Now they're together again. I'm sure Dime met him with a Black Tooth Grin in Heaven....and VP respond with a "HELLLL YEEAAAHHHH!"
RIP, my friend......