Six years ago today, former Pantera guitarist 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott was shot and killed on stage in Columbus, Ohio. He was 38 years old.
Dimebag was performing at the Alrosa Villa venue with his then new band DamagePlan when Nathan Gale - a former US marine who was discharged from the military after being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic - ran on stage and shot him six times. Gale also shot and killed DamagePlan's head of security, Jeff 'Mayhem' Thompson, Alrosa Villa employee Erin Halk, and DamagePlan fan Nathan Bray who was trying to perform CPR on Dimebag.
While today will always be synonymous with that horrific event, Dimebag's partner Rita Haney tells Kerrang! that she prefers to think of December 8 as a celebrate his life and legacy.
"People always say to me, 'Rita, coping with this must be really hard on you' but it isn't too bad," she told Kerrang!. "I actually think it's harder for everyone else because at least I have all these little things around to remind me of him. It's like he's here every day with me and knowing him like I did, I have the most amazing circle of friends. Vinnie [Abbott, Dimebag's brother] and his family have been so good to me over the years. We've all been there for each other at different times and every year for his birthday or his anniversary, we always make sure we're all together. Believe it or not, it's usually one of the most fun evenings because it's such a celebration. Even now he's gone, Darrell can still make us all smile and laugh.
"December 8 will be tough for us all and I will miss him dearly, just like every other day," she added. "But knowing how much Darrell meant to the metal community and how much of an inspiration he has been to everyone since, keeps me strong and I sincerely thank you all for still caring."
So, later today, make sure you raise a glass, and the horns, in honour of Dimebag. Rest In Peace, Darrell. We miss you.