Vinnie Paul, drummer and founding member of the heavy metal band Pantera, died at the age of 54 Friday night. No immediate cause of death was provided.
The Texas-born Paul formed Pantera alongside his brother, guitar virtuoso “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, and bassist Rex Brown in 1981. The band spent roughly their first decade as ardent disciples of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, blending in elements of thrash and hair-metal as the decade wore on. After recording three albums in the early Eighties with vocalists Donnie Hart and Terry Glaze, the band recruited singer Phil Anselmo in 1987 to form Pantera’s classic lineup of Anselmo, Abbott, Paul and Brown.
With 1990’s Cowboys From Hell, their major-label debut, the band took a quantum leap, quickly becoming leaders of a new school of metal. Their next album, Vulgar Display of Power was a near-perfect example of what would come to be known as groove metal and a blueprint for how heavy music sounded throughout the Nineties and beyond.
Their more extreme follow-up, 1994’s Far Beyond Driven, debuted at Number One. With The Great Southern Trendkill arriving two years later. Three years after 2000’s Reinventing the Steel, Pantera disbanded following a rift between the Abbott brothers and Anselmo.
Following Pantera, the Abbott Brothers formed Damageplan and released 2004’s New Found Power, but that band’s tenure was tragically cut short when Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a deranged fan in December 2004.
Two years after the death of his brother, Paul returned to music with the metal supergroup Hellyeah, which featured Mudvayne singer Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett and Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell and bassist Jerry Montano; Paul’s Damageplan bandmate Bob Zilla ultimately replaced Montano on bass. The supergroup released five albums together over the past decade, most recently 2016’s Unden!able.