Drummer Vinnie Paul, co-founding drummer of the revered Texas metal band Pantera, has died. Paul was 54.
"Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul has passed away," reads a post on the Pantera Facebook page. "Paul is best known for his work as the drummer in the bands Pantera and Hellyeah. No further details are available at this time. The family requests you please respect their privacy during this time." Billboard independently confirmed the death with a representative of Paul, though no additional information was given.
Paul and his younger brother, guitarist Dimebag Darrell, founded Pantera in 1981 in their hometown of Arlington, Texas. Initially founded as a glam-metal band fronted by David Lee Roth–style singer Terry Glaze, the group evolved over the next decade into a much harder-hitting, thrash- and hardcore-inflected unit; they found mainstream success after enlisting New Orleans vocalist Phil Anselmo and releasing 1990's groundbreaking Cowboys From Hell. Pantera's follow-up, Vulgar Display of Power, is widely considered to be one of the greatest metal albums ever made, and their 1994 LP, Far Beyond Driven, would debut at No. 1 on the Billboard sales chart and still stands, in many fans' opinion, as the heaviest record to do so.
After Pantera's dissolution in 2003, Paul and his brother formed Damageplan, which released one album, 2004's New Found Power. On December 8th that year, while on tour supporting the record, Darrell was shot dead onstage at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. Damageplan was disbanded shortly after.
In 2006, following a long period of questioning whether he would ever play music again, Paul joined the metal supergroup Hellyeah, alongside members of Mudvayne and Nothingface. The band most recently released their fifth album, Unden!able, in 2016. During his tenure in Hellyeah, Paul served as a beacon of strength in the wake of tragedy for many of his peers, including Slipknot's Corey Taylor, who found the drummer's advice particularly powerful after the death of his bandmate Paul Gray.
Since news of Paul's passing broke, his hard-rock and metal peers have shared their shock, sadness and condolences via social media. KISS' Paul Stanley tweeted, "So sad to hear of the death of Vinnie Paul. Loved when Pantera did shows with us and in later years Vinnie was always front and center at all KISS shows. RIP and condolences to his family." "I just woke up in Belgium to the news that my friend Vinnie Paul has passed away," Megadeth's Dave Mustaine posted on Twitter. "Another metal hero taken too soon. Say hello to [Darrell] for me. Rest In Peace, my dear friend." Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler tweeted, "Shocked and saddened to hear of Vinnie Paul's passing. A true original. Had some good laughs when we toured with @Pantera. Gone too soon."
Representing fans everywhere, comedian, amateur drummer and outspoken Vinnie Paul admirer Bill Burr shared these thoughts via Twitter: "Devestated to hear the news of the passing of the great Vinnie Paul. Such an incredible musician and an even nicer guy. Rest In Peace Vinnie!"