Hi folks. Today is a sad day for me, when it comes to some of my favourite bands (other than Queen) and I will explain why so, read on. Today marks the anniversaries of two murders in rock and heavy metal and they have both affected me and members of Queen, in varying degrees.
On December 8, 1980 John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman, outside of John and Yoko’s apartment in New York City. This took place after the couple had finished a recording session for a song, which would appear on a Yoko Ono album years later. It is all there on Wikipedia if you would like more information about the events which had occurred, before and after the murder. However I will say that John had conducted his last interview that day, a few hours before Mark David Chapman murdered the 40 year old former Beatle.
on December 8th 2004, guitarist Dimebag daryl Lance Abbott was also murdered by a piece of shit named Nathan Gail. The difference being that this murder took place in full view of everybody, who was at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus Ohio. This murder took place while Daryl was on stage with his band Damageplan and his brother Vincent Paul Abbott on drums, as they both were on their respective instruments and Pantera. The other big difference with the story is that in this case the murderer was killed, after he had shot, killed and or wounded various members of the road crew or fans.
Not even 1 minute into the set, Dimebag was shot and killed, then the murderer had been stalking the stage, possibly looking for Vinny Paul and if anyone else tried to stop him, he fired shots to keep them at bay and if those bullets had killed, tough shit! The gunman had shot and killed other people, or took them hostage. In one case there was a hostage being taken and that is when the police was called and a policeman came in and fired one crucial shot and killed Nathan Gail, thus saving the lives of many people including Vinny Paul. If you want to know about what had happened, here is the Pantera Behind The Music episode and unfortunately, it doesn’t include the facts that Vinny Paul would form HELLYEAH in 2006 with members of Mudvayne, Nothingface and Damageplan. Vinny would also die in 2018, Alrosa Villa would be demolished in 2021 and the surviving members bassist Rex brown and vocalist Phil Anselmo have reunited as Pantera, with Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante taking the place of the Abbott brothers on guitar and drums respectively. Anyway, here it is and if you cry, I understand and oh yeah, Queen does acknowledge both murders and I will get to that later. https://youtu.be/FeNpB2Rx3sU
I had heard about John Lennon’s murder when I was at school when one of the staff mentioned it to me. I was big into The Beatles at the time, but not like I would become in the late 80s. He had said something like “John was shot and he fell down” and I immediately thought that John was killed. I didn’t know yet that you could be shot and survive! Well, I was 7 and didn’t know anything about guns or weapons of any kind at that time. Here is a large chunk of what I had written on Facebook, in a group related to where I went to school, posted last year and updated here to reflect 2022. For the record, I went to W. Ross Macdonald School, whose most famous graduate is guitarist Jeff Healey, who played guitar on his lap and unfortunately, had passed away at the age of 41 in 2008 of sarcoma. If you haven’t heard of the school, this should give you an idea and no, I am not one of the notable alumni who have their own Wikipedia articles, but a friend of mine who was in my class for a few years is. Hint, he was born in 1975 so he is younger than me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Ross_Macdonald_School
“For those of us who were alive 42 years ago today, we all know how significant the murder of John Lennon was, as he was probably the first musician to be assassinated, like a politician. I often wondered if he would’ve embraced today’s music and Technology. What would he have thought about digital VS. analogue recording? What about the music which had Spond from the punk and new wave era of the mid to late 70s, such as grunge and what we now call alternative music in all its forms? What would he think of the world of politics today and would he possibly have tried to run, or at least campaign for somebody? Would he have also considered trying autotune/pitch correction? Would he have taken it as a novelty or would he have used it as just another vocal affect on his voice?”
“I will always remember when I was informed that John Lennon was shot, that I was told “he fell down”, but nobody had said that he had died. I had assumed that back when I was 7. I found out the day after the shooting, after returning from the Military Police Christmas party in London and I had no idea, of who had shot John, or why this had happened, until years later. Hopefully, this guy never gets out and he dies in prison for what he did, for robbing the music world of an outspoken advocate for peace, who just happen to be the member of one of the biggest rock bands of all time. John Winston Lennon should be 82 years old today, but instead he is no longer with us and a pile of ashes.”
We had been robbed of a man who was a very good wordsmith and brought genres like musique concrete almost to the mainstream. If he was alive today I think he would be quite impressed with all the music out there, including grunge, industrial, Brit pop and even ban such as Radiohead. Of course, he would always go back to his childhood music such as: Gene Vincent, Elvis Presley, buddy holly and the other people he listen to before getting full-time into music. Of course, all he really wanted was for all of us to live in a world of peace and isn’t that what we all want?
In my teens, I had learned how to write songs through a radio program about John Lennon called The Lost Lennon Tapes, which played demos that he had recorded at home on tape playing piano or acoustic guitar. I had always written down words on paper and had no real way of writing music, except for music braille and frankly, I hated it then and I hate it now. I prefer to learn music by ear, rather than by charts. I would also hear takes of songs from the studio, which were unreleased. Imagine hearing “I’m The Greatest” by Ringo Starr, sung by John and that’s because he had written the song for Ringo. Even early versions of Real Love and the piano only home demo of Free As A Bird were played on the show. Yes, I also heard some Beatles songs written by John too, as well as some of the demos which would appear on the Deluxe and Super Deluxe versions of The Beatles White Album in 2018. These days we can find all of this stuff on Youtube, or on Beatles deluxe versions and the Anthology albums. That show gave me more of the drive to want to try to be a musician when I was younger, before life had other plans.
I had actually seen Dimebag Darrell back in June 2001, when Pantera and a number of other bands played at what was then known as Copps Coliseum, now known as First Ontario Center in Hamilton Ontario Canada. One thing I can talk about is that some asshole threw a beer on me during the first song of one of the opening bands sets. In case you’re wondering, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt plus my shoes and socks at the time and yes, I did kind of smell like a brewery for a while. However, it was a great show and of course, the last time Pantera would set foot in Canada before both the September 11 attacks and their break up.
When the album New Found Power from Damageplan was released in 2004, I bought it on CD the day it came out and I loved it instantly. A highlight for me is the guitar solo on the song Moment Of Truth, which should have been released as a single. Then December 8th happened and I had actually heard about it the next morning at home on the radio. At first nobody said if any one was killed but I learned soon after hearing about it that it was Daryl, who had been murdered. It also happened that I was doing my grocery shopping that day and as you can imagine, it was difficult to concentrate after hearing such tragic news.
Has heavy music changed since Dime was killed? Not much has changed except the increase in guitar solos from newer bands like: Slipknot and Disturbed, making way for other bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch to also use guitar solos without shame. Even a band like Mud Vayne decided to start putting guitar solos on their albums to augment the sound. Here is Moment Of Truth and notice the little run that Dime does in the solo and how low he tunes his guitar. Part of me wishes that Brian would tune down for any new songs, but I can’t imagine him going this low. https://youtu.be/7zYwHEJ0XJ0
As a guitar player, I was and still am impressed with all the things Dimebag has done on Pantera albums and on New Found Power. I am also quite happy that Brian spoke up about the death of Daryl and I have a sneaking suspicion that Daryl was influence partly by Brian and his playing as well. However, he has never said that in interviews that I know of. If Daryl was alive today, I think that he would still be making music with his brother and still have the chops.
I am glad that Mark David Chapman hasn’t been allowed to be paroled and I hope it stays that way. He can say sorry for what he did all he wants but it won’t change the fact that he did what he did to John Lennon. As for Nathan Gail, he got what he deserved and I’m happy. As for the families, I am glad that everyone is doing what they are doing and I am on their side, with all the annual events and such. In the case of the Lennon estate, keep fighting to keep Mark David Chapman behind bars and when he dies I will be happy when that son of a bitch rots in hell. Shouldn’t he be on death row? After all, he had killed an icon and he knew what he was doing.
So, what about Queen? Well, they were obviously influenced by The Beatles and if you are a Beatles fan, you know that they had become a studio band after 1966 to the end of their time as a group. They had used a bunch of new studio techniques and their innovations would result in better technology, with more space to record music and sounds on tape. I may do a post on the studio later on, to further make the point of how Queen would further push the studio to the limits.
After finding out about John’s murder, Queen would play Imagine in concert with Freddie and later with Paul Rodgers. Here is an example of one of the versions of Imagine which was played by Queen with Freddie in 1980. https://youtu.be/g3Z7y_SCJh0
That wasn’t all, as on the Hot Space album, the song Life Is Real is a ttribute to John Lennon and the fact that it and Put Out The Fire were sequenced beside each other to open side 2, was no coincidence. Put Out The Fire is an anti-firearms song and the most traditional Queen song on Hot Space. Brian is a Beatles fan and probably the other 3 as well, but I believe that Brian and Roger are probably the biggest fans out of the 4. https://youtu.be/wN9lfb0rmpc
Life Is Real sounds more like a Lennon song from the Imagine era, as it was written by Freddie. https://youtu.be/wl20NGS3VF8
After Dimebag was murdered, Brian had written about the tragedy on his website. “PANTERA were, I think, the first band that I and my son Jimmy both got equally excited about. It was Jimmy who first got me to see them. They were a great band, and Dimebag was an innovative and passionate player.”
“Great musician. Terrible loss. My respects to him, to his family and friends. Also to those who were killed trying to save him and apprehend the gunman.” Here is the complete statement from Brian. https://blabbermouth.net/news/queen-guitar-legend-dimebag-was-an-innovative-and-passionate-player
Anyway, there is an account from a Pantera producer, about Brian coming back stage after a Pantera Show in 1994, just to say hi. https://youtu.be/7NH8OvpfBdM
Here is an example of why Dime was so loved by a lot of people and talked about, the day after he was killed. In fact, I will give you an example of a Black Sabbath cover Pantera had done in 2000, which has some guitar harmony parts and some really high notes, like we hear on 39 before the last verses and choruses. Come to think of it, I really should be referencing Son and Daughter which is equally as snarly and also has guitar harmonies which go way up past the sky. It also has a similar Black Sabbathy type of doomy quality to it and you can hear it more on the Queen On Air album, with both performances. I will save anymore Black Sabbath talk for another post. https://youtu.be/Igdooj-Olvs
Now, I’ll give you one of my favourite John Lennon songs from his solo years. I have quite a few that I like and I am choosing Working Class Hero, as it is simple and doesn’t require a lot of power to play it, despite the biting lyrics. https://youtu.be/D77dbv-xNfE
I won’t be able to get through this day without listening to Imagine by either John Lennon, or A Perfect Circle, or even one of the Queen versions on Youtube. Maybe even some Pantera or Damageplan.