Vinnie Paul

“Vinnie Paul”—a gregarious, much-loved monster of metal, founder of Pantera, D-FW native, proprietor of a few area men’s clubs and brother to the late Dimebag Darrell—has died. He was just 54. The cause of death had not been made public as of Saturday afternoon. Pantera posted a Facebook announcement late Friday, and Billboard magazine confirmed.

Born Vincent Paul Abbott, the legendary drummer and his late brother, guitarist Darrell formed Pantera, pioneers of the groove-metal movement, in Arlington, Texas in the late 1980s. They struck their stride and stardom in the 90s. They were fixtures at several Dallas bars and clubs. In fact I met the whole band when I was a bartender.

I remember them talking about their new club, The Clubhouse. This was Dallas’ “gentlemen’s clubs” heyday, mind you, but Pantera’s club was going to be all-nude. That was pretty scandalous at the time—had the whole industry abuzz. It would operate as a BYOB venue so they could remain open until 4 a.m. This too was trendsetting; today quite a lot of strip clubs have chosen the same route, reaping the benefits, which Vinnie Paul touts in this 2000 Texas Monthly piece, and avoiding dealing with Texas liquor laws.

Paul wasn’t your typical local business owner—his virtuosic vision for a string of themed clubhouses was unique. For example, he reportedly dreamed of building a golf course with a strip club on the nineteenth hole, but canned that idea upon learning the prohibitive cost of building a golf course from scratch. His nudie bar sans golf course, however, did well, attracting celebrities and regular ol’ people who went for the novelty or possibility of running into Vince Neil.

“It’s a great combination of harmless fun and a real business. To me, anything that makes money and doesn’t break the law is a respectable business,” Paul told TM. “And where else in the country are you virtually guaranteed to see rock stars and naked women almost every night? Only in Texas.”

Paul’s brother “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, Paul’s partner in music and business, died onstage after someone shot him in 2004.

Paul also was a mega Dallas stars fan, reports Central Track. “Pantera wrote the team goal horn track ‘Puck Off!’ as the hockey team was en route to winning its first Stanley Cup in 1999.

Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Slash, Paul Stanley, Dave Mustaine, Vince Neil, Brett Michaels, Travis Barker, Zakk Wylde and Duff McKagan are among the many to have already publicly mourned Abbott’s passing, Central Track notes.