March 14, 2005

Dimebag Darrell

Like a lot of GP readers, I was devastated to learn the news about Dimebag Darrell. Although I pretty much read only your guitar magazine and ignore all the others, anytime I saw an interview with Dime in any guitar magazine, I’d have to snap it up. The guy had such a wonderful, positive outlook. He was one of those rare musicians who really knows what it’s all about. He was an inspiration—not only as a great guitarist, but, more importantly, as a great person. He’ll be missed.

Bryan Meekins
Chapel Hill, NC

I feel as though a part of me died on December 8. I spent a good chunk of my high school years playing along with Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power. I remember Pantera was playing a local club on the Vulgar tour along with White Zombie. My buddy and I skipped class to get down there early with the hope of meeting our hero. When we got there, he was playing table hockey. He stopped what he was doing and took the time to talk our ears off and autograph our guitars. That’s just the kind of guy that he was. That night he proceeded to tear the roof of the place. It will go down as one of the best concerts I have ever seen. I just wanted to say thanks to Dime for the inspiration.

Phil Reno
Omaha, NE

I was playing in a band, doing originals in a club in Dallas several years ago. From my peripheral vision, I see some rough-looking dudes walk in. After we finished the song we were playing, there’s a shout: “Y’all know any Skynyrd, dude?” It was Dime, just having some fun. Every time I encountered him in Dallas, he seemed a regular guy—totally unpretentious, friendly, and supportive of his fellow musicians, regardless of their stature. In your tribute, my old teacher and friend, Ricky Lynn Gregg, raved about Dime’s talent. Dime did the same in raving about Ricky’s talent in GP a few years ago. He understood respect.

Albert Madariaga
Richardson, TX

Although I’ve never followed metal very closely, I was aware of Dimebag Darrell and his influence, and your latest issue was a fitting tribute. I was dismayed at the shocking story of his murder, and it really had an impact on me—which I thought was odd considering I’d never really listened to Pantera. But I always liked the quotes I read from Darrell because he seemed to have a really cool attitude towards music.

So, moved by his death, I wanted to find out a little of what Darrell, Pantera, and metal was all about. What did he sound like? What were the riffs he was so famous for? As I was scratching around for this stuff on the Internet, I also came across the lyrics to Pantera and Damageplan songs. For all of the good and interesting stuff I found in his playing, I couldn’t believe what was in the lyrics. They were so full of anger, depression, hopelessness, and death.

I think we have to remember that many fans take these lyrics seriously. To the musicians, the lyrics are probably just part of the genre, but to some fans, those lyrics are real. Can you see what I’m getting at? As some metal bands work hard to create this anger and death image, we shouldn’t be surprised when something like this happens. Music is a powerful thing. To a master musician, it’s a craft. To a master showman, it’s a shtick. But to a deranged fan—and there are more than a few—it’s gasoline on a fire. It’s too bad that fire had to take Darrell’s life.

Walt Hampton
pasco, Wa

Neko Case

Thanks for introducing me to Neko Case in your Feb. ’05 issue. I checked out Blacklisted from our local public library, and wow! She is truly an exceptional artist! I hope many of your readers had a similar experience so she can receive more of the attention and recognition she deserves.

I love GP. Keep up the great work!

Roderick Johnson
Cleveland, OH

Going Beyond

I was dazzled to flip GP open to the piece on Bjork [Riffs, Feb. ’05]. Kudos for featuring the woman many—including myself—believe to be a musical visionary of a higher order. Interestingly, guitars have little place in her potent musical universe, as she herself recently clarified: “My problem with guitars is, when it becomes establishment, everything stagnates” [Mojo #132]. The truth can be a bitter pill. Clearly, guitarists must learn to keep up by daring to go beyond.

Tony Spencer
Toronto, Ontario

I can’t stand the amount of un-originality in the guitar world today. What guitarists need, and mostly lack, is a sound of their own—an original sound. Every so often, you hear about so-and-so and how great he or she plays, and you buy their CD or see their show, only to be disappointed by their lack of originality. I admit that occasionally borrowing some licks from guitar legends is a good thing for adding spice to a performance, but some great players really butcher their solos by borrowing everything from a guitarist everyone knows. I challenge all of the readers of GP to not break into a safe haven of known licks while soloing or improvising, but to experiment with new material. Try to get out of your usual scales and try new things. Go ahead and read the “How to Play Like…” articles, but don’t play like them. I’m tired of listening to the same old stuff. Come on people, let’s get some new material!

Max Bouzinov
Walpole, MA

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