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Dimebag Darrell: Taco Hell

Dimebag Darrell: Taco Hell
   
 

Guitar World’s Jeff Gilbert makes a break for the border with Pantera and Kiss.

Mexico City. It’s six o’clock in the morning, and the temperature has already climbed to 80 degrees. I find myself part of a team of roadies, every one the size of a small building, unpacking several semi-trailer trucks crammed with rented speakers, billion-channel soundboards, 10-ton lighting rigs, dozens of guitars and enough drums to jump start Mardi Gras. Sweat is beginning to run down my back and torso like an overflowing toilet.

A nightmare? Nope. It’s just my latest assignment dreamed up by those treacherous bastards at Guitar World. “It’s simple,” they told me. “Pantera is opening up for Kiss at Mexico City’s Sports Palace and we want you to be there. You know, hang with the band and give us a feel of what it’s like to travel with heavy metal’s finest.”

It sounded like fun. What they didn’t tell me was, in order to help defray expenses, the deal included volunteering my services with the road crew. One of my co-workers takes five to urinate—on my shoes. As I curse the entire Guitar World staff and their families, my thoughts are mercifully interrupted.

“How’d you expect me to do my damn job right if I don’t have any beer?” a roadie complains loudly.

Priorities being what they are, the beer is quickly and systematically removed from cartons and packed in personalized ice chests. Bottle openers are brandished like switch blades. The sound of beer caps hitting the pavement is followed by a symphony of unrestrained belching, the sweet sounds of which reverberate in the darkened, cavernous arena.

Breakfast is served.

9:00 a.m.

>>> Everyone except the first-shift crew is sleeping off last night’s performance. Despite being added to the bill at the last minute, Pantera turned in a muscular performance worthy of a headliner, rewarding their young Mexican fans with irreversible ear damage. Though most of this city’s teeming millions are already hard at work, it’ll be hours until the elevators in the plush, 40-story Presidente Inter-Continental Hotel are filled with groggy rock stars and bleary-eyed guitar techs whose clothes—which conveniently double as pajamas—reek of “Texas aftershave” (tequila and vomit).

11:00 a.m.

>>> Pantera sleeps. A group of teenagers wearing Kiss T-shirts and clutching pens have gathered just beyond the outdoor concierge station and set up an unblinking vigil. Obviously, they’re not familiar with the slumber patterns of American rock stars. It will be a long wait.

1:00 p.m.

>>> Pantera still sleeps. The kids outside pass the time by singing “Rock and Roll All Nite.” When this somehow segues into “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” a few of the waiting taxi drivers join in with gusto. The only thing missing is an Ace Frehley solo.

3:00 p.m.

>>> And still they sleep. A few “up at the crack of noon” drum techs bravely venture out into the sweltering heat in search of hangover food. Their efforts are rewarded when they discover that the local El McDonald’s has an unlimited supply of greasy fries and Egg McBurros.

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