10 years ago today, on December 8, 2004 Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed while performing at Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. The very next day we were playing with Jimmy Eat World, The Hives and Story of the Year at Glendale Arena.
Before the show, backstage I was speaking with Tom Linton guit player of Jimmy and Mattias bass player of The Hives. We were kinda spooked about getting shot on stage, not that it would be likely, but it was a trip. Tom and I were talking most because although he was very cordial, Mattias didn’t speak English that well, being from Sweden.
I broke the ice with Tom by mentioning that I knew his buddy Mase Mattingly, and that I saw him (Tom) playing a talent show at Westwood High School with Jimmy Eat World. They were playing Screeching Weasel covers. He graduated in 1995 and I in ’96. The conversation segued into how I had just gotten an official sponsorship from Krank Amps and that Dimebag had just gotten his own line of amps the day before he was shot and killed. I had just gotten off the phone with my rep Jodi and he told me about how he was celebrating with Dimebag the night before.
Needless to say we all played that day without getting shot.
Fast-forward 3 years and now we find ourselves playing the notorious Alrosa Villa. Load in was right behind stage right. Of course I brought up the incident with the staff. They told me how crazy it was and showed me the shotgun damage that they never bothered to fix. I was in disbelief because three years had passed. I walked over to the bar for a drink and told the bartender it was nuts the way the shit went down. He told me, “Dimebag was an asshole anyway”. I sat in silence and finished my drink.
It was time to play. In my peripheral, I saw the back door open with no bouncer there. I was a little jumpy that whole gig and was thankful when it was over.
After the show, everyone partied as usual and we all retired to the tour bus, parked out back. We splurged on this run and actually weren’t in the 15 passenger van for once. It was eerie because it was a bit foggy and surrounded by a berm and woods.
The driver Robert showed up at about 5 AM to rollout. I was tour managing at the time and counting dough in the back. It had been about two weeks since our last deposit, so I had about $20K laid out. As Robert starting driving, the bus suddenly seized. We were stuck in the parking lot. Robert yelled, “Bill, get up here”! I stashed the money and ran up. Robert had his gun drawn and had dropped the magazine because there was one in the chamber. At this point I drew my Spyderco. I asked Robert what the deal was. He told me, “they came out of the woods and engaged the brakes, they were trying to get the gear out of the bays”! At this point, I thought he was trippin’, but he wasn’t. He called the cops and they confirmed that vagrants live in the woods and do this to touring bands often. They told Robert that the gun must have scared them off.
Finally, we fixed the brakes and got the hell outta there. I was thinking to myself, “what a shithole, good riddance”.
tl;dr: R.I.P. Dimebag, that place was a shithole.