Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times, and Tragic End of

Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times, and Tragic End of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott

4.7 13
by Zac Crain

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Black Tooth Grin is the first biography of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, the Texas-bred guitarist of the heavy metal band Pantera, who was murdered onstage in 2004 by a deranged fan—24 years to the day after John Lennon met a similar fate.

Darrell Abbott began as a Kiss-inspired teenage prodigy who won dozens of local talent contests. With his

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Black Tooth Grin is the first biography of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, the Texas-bred guitarist of the heavy metal band Pantera, who was murdered onstage in 2004 by a deranged fan—24 years to the day after John Lennon met a similar fate.

Darrell Abbott began as a Kiss-inspired teenage prodigy who won dozens of local talent contests. With his brother, drummer Vinnie Abbott, he formed Pantera, becoming one of the most popular bands of the ’90s and selling millions of albums to an intensely devoted fan base. While the band’s music was aggressive, “Dime” was outgoing, gregarious, and adored by everyone who knew him.

From Pantera’s heyday to their implosion following singer Phil Anselmo’s heroin addiction to Darrell’s tragic end, Black Tooth Grin is a moving portrait of a great artist.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Darrell Abbott, known to fans of rock band Pantera as "Dimebag Darrell," was shot to death by a deranged fan while playing a show in Columbus, Ohio, in 2004. This horrific event, recounted in nightmarish detail and replete with gratuitous comparisons to September 11, bookends Crain's reverential but superficial chronicle of the highly regarded heavy-metal guitarist's career. As narrated by Crain, Dallas Observer music editor, Darrell is a hard-drinking mama's boy who, growing up in Arlington, Tex., refined his guitar chops by walling himself up in his room for hours instead of going to high school. With his brother, Vince, and other neighborhood musicians, Darrell formed the band Pantera. Under the influence of Metallica and with the addition of a rough-edged singer named Phil Anselmo, the band evolved into a major force on the metal scene with its original blend of technical skill and Southern attitude. Pantera achieved massive success in the '90s with the release of a few albums, including the "heaviest album to hit No. 1 on the charts," Far Beyond Driven, and toured the world. Crain dutifully recounts the addictions and intra-band squabbling that inevitably shadow rock success, but the cheerful strangeness and decency of "Dimebag," perhaps best exemplified by his collaboration with the eccentric country musician David Allen Coe, manages to shine through, even in the darker corners of the narrative. (July)

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From the Publisher

The Bookseller, 3/2/09
“This long-awaited account of a hard rocking life cut short has real cult sleeper potential.”

Booklist, 6/1/09
“Crain describes the career of an accomplished and influential guitarist…Crain’s iteration of the man and his career…is a fitting memorial.”

Texas Monthly, June 2009
“[Crain] captures the essence of the band's virtuoso guitarist, who was revered by musicians and fans alike for his outrageous skills and everyman persona.”

Dallas Morning News Texas Pages blog, 5/30/09
“Chronicle[s] Abbot’s life and career with careful detail and just the right amount of appreciation.”, 5/25/09
“A fast and thoroughly entertaining read—a definite page turner…For fans of Dimebag Darrell, Pantera, and heavy metal in general it's a must. But even if you never banged your head in the moshpit to ‘I'm Broken,’ Dimebag's story, like a good, stiff drink, is one you wont want to put down.”

“[An] excellent biography…Crain pulls off a difficult task. While Black Tooth Grin is essential reading for any fan of ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott or his band, it’s not a ‘meatheads only’ book. It will reach anyone who’s ever heard a killer riff and thought, ‘God, I want to play like that.”

Revolver Magazine, August 2009
“This poetic biography uses vivid prose to illustrate late Pantera shredder Dimebag Darrell’s life…A heartwarming homage to the guitarist’s memory.”
“Tells about the life [Dimebag] led and what might have been.”, 6/14/09
“Tells Dimebag’s story, from his birth in Arlington, Texas to his death on stage in Columbus, Ohio, from Pantera’s glittery late-80s beginnings to their chart-destroying reign as one of Metal’s most unrelenting acts…Sheds new light on that harrowing night in Columbus in 2004…A damn good story.”

Quick, 7/2/09
“A thoroughly researched biography and a fun read.”

“Crain explores with vivid detail the 1981 birth, rise to fame, and ultimate demise of Pantera, as well as the rebirth of the Abbott brothers and rock's bloodiest onstage tragedy…Black Tooth Grin is the long-awaited story of Dimebag Darrell, and a tour de force of American music journalism.”

Quick, 7/2/09
“Crain successfully paints a raw but often reverential picture of Dimebag.”, 7/2/09
“Clearly aimed at the remaining fans of heavy metal in general and of Abbott in particular.”

Dallas News, 7/5/09
Black Tooth Grin is longtime area writer Zac Crain's attempt at telling Abbott's story, and for the most part he succeeds…One thing Crain absolutely nails…—and what is really the heart of Abbott's story—is his open, unpretentious nature.”

Q, July 2009
“A hugely sympathetic portrait, with Abbott’s basic humanity shining through even as his band’s US success brought them into contact with the seedier side of the music industry.”

Trademark of Quality, 6/24/09
“Does a fine job of presenting the genesis of Abbott's lifelong infatuation with the guitar…Crain describes the many bumps in the road and the obstacles overcome by Pantera in becoming, perhaps, the best-known metal outfit during the alt-rock years…Crain is an engaging writer, and Black Tooth Grin is a quick, entertaining read that captures the essence of Dimebag Darrell Abbot.”

Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles
“Not only chronicles, but also celebrates the remarkable achievements and unique experiences that filled Dime’s life…The one-of-a-kind story is lovingly told and accurately recounted…Black Tooth Grin provides a true sense of who Dime was and what it was like to be around him…Unlike the majority of unauthorized biographies that essentially amount to nothing more than a quick cash-grab, this book has been well researched…It’s definitely worth reading.”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7/16/09
“Admirable for its ambition…The depth of sourcing…allows for different insight than the family might provide.”

January, 7/22/09
“Crain seems to hit all the right notes, skillfully blending fact with educated fancy, filling in the blanks and also imagining the what-might have beens and the nearly-weres. Metal fans will, of course, find Black Tooth Grin to be a must-read but even those who had only barely heard of Abbott will find Crain’s book compelling. It’s a portrait of the music industry exactly as you always suspected it was… and yet entirely different. Fascinating.”

Blurt, Fall 2009
“A vivid portrait of Dimebag, written in a style that suits his rep as a big-hearted hell-raiser…The upshot is we get to know and like Dimebag all over again, intimately as a close friend.”

Salt Lake Under Ground, August 2009
“It may be a cliché, but the introduction alone will leave any reader, regardless of musical orientation, breathless. The rest of the biography only improves from there…This book is required reading for metal heads and highly recommended for anybody interested in music.”

MNS Music’s Headbang blog, 8/10/09
“A terrific first book…A complete biography, detailing not only Abbott's childhood as one of two sons of a Texas recording engineer, and Pantera's early years, but every step of the group's rise to prominence in the early 1990s and ultimate, bitter dissolution…A quick, easy read…A very welcome addition to any metalhead's library. By all means check it out.”

GuitarNoize,com, 11/23/09
“An unauthorized biography of the Arlington, Texas shredder…This is a fascinating insight into the life and death of Darrell Abbott and one that I highly recommend.”

DC Metal Music, 12/8/09
“The book gives a different angle on Abbott and the band that brought him to fame…What is most interesting about this book are the moments when the focus is put on those who helped the band early on…The tone is conversational and filled with humorous anecdotes and metaphors making it enjoyable…Black Tooth Grin does provide an excellent way to remember a star in the metal world that left an eternal audience to soon.”

Premier Guitar, 12/8/09
“Provides a well-rounded, introspective look into Abbott’s world as music fan, guitarist, party ambassador and mama’s boy.”

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Product Details

Da Capo Press
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2 MB

Meet the Author

Texas-based author Zac Crain was music editor for the Dallas Observer, and currently is an editor at American Way and a regular contributor to Spin.

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Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times, and Tragic End of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
AlisonMSwann More than 1 year ago
In his first book and the first unauthorized biography of metal rocker, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, author Zac Crain provides us a fast, yet detailed account of the life and death of the larger-than-life musician. It is an easy read because it is a joy to read. An accomplished writer about the music scene, Crain knows the lingo and understands what is important to his readers, those devoted to "Dimebag," his band Pantera and the final iteration of that band, Damageplan. Fans who clamor for information on Abbott the man, his character, musical influences (though, of course devotees know about his affinity for KISS and Van Halen) and his associations with other musicians will find a wealth of information in these pages. Crain has talked with former band members and those in the media, such as Juliya Chernetsky, host of the FUSE network's metal show to provide a full picture of "Dimebag" the generous guy, the partier, the musician. Black Tooth Grin, named after the whisky and cola shot drink "Dimebag" loved to down, and pour for others, gives the reader a thoughtful look at Abbott's beginnings in Arlington, Texas, a suburb of Dallas and his development as a skilled guitarist with an instantly recognizable sound to his morphing into a business person of sorts. Crain never merely chronicles "Dimebag's" life and career. Perhaps more importantly and impressively, Crain draws conclusions and suggests causes and effects but never at the expense of the facts. In other words, Crain does not marshal or manipulate mention of incidents in Abbott's life to support his own theories of the whats and whys of "Dimebag's" success, failure, even of his murder. That is exactly what we want in a biographer. As Crain writes, "No one can predict the butterfly effect of the countless-and usually innocuous-coin flips that happen every second of every day." But Crain's volume is not fluffy. In the pages following that observation, he details the circumstances that caused Atco Records scout Mark Ross, stuck in Texas when Hurricane Hugo struck North Carolina, to check out the band. Crain continues the story by explaining that a self-conscious Pantera gives what band members consider a constrained performance in the presence of Ross and think they've blown it. As they see him walk out the door, (as it turns out, only to return from a visit to his car and a phone call confirming his intent to sign the group), they kick into high gear and play with their signature abandon. This kind of fully fleshed out information makes the book a compelling read. Black Tooth Grin tells the story of a man whose end we know. But Crain frames the story nicely by beginning with references to that ending. When, in the chapter titled "Slaughtered" Crain recounts the murder in detail, it is the most illuminating description of the tragedy that ended Abbott's life that has been written. On December 9, 2004, published a story about the murder. At the time, the available sources were the 911 call transcripts and the words of eyewitnesses. The article references "amateur video footage" that investigators have yet to study. For his 2009 book, Crain studied the "video of the incident, unwittingly captured by the band's own camera" and poured through hundreds of eyewitness accounts. His account is thoughtful, thorough and chilling. Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times and Tragic End of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott by Zac Crain, 2009 Da Capo Press
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining the entire time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Link: sits in her camp. She cries silently. Head in her hands.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fu<3>ck you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
shorty911 More than 1 year ago
A good look at what Dime was like in his private life...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*looks around* hm....*clicks her flashlight on and off*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mallory grabs onto Rorys arm. Rory grabs the handle to the door of the shack and pulls it open.(should I go to next res?)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago