“If Phil Anselmo hadn’t quit Pantera, Darrell wouldn’t have been playing in that shithole where that guy could get to him.” That is but one of the many startling and revealing statements about Dimebag Darrell Abbott that his girlfriend of 20 years, Rita Haney, makes in the March 2008 issue of Guitar World. In a lengthy and exclusive interview conducted almost three years to the day after Dimebag’s death on December 8, 2004, Haney gives Guitar World readers a revealing look inside the heart and soul of metal’s lost cowboy from hell and offers some lacerating criticism of his former bandmates Anselmo and Damageplan singer Pat Lachman. Haney recalls how she and Darrell met when they were growing up in Arlington, Texas, and how their romance began. She also talks about Pantera’s breakup and its effect on Dimebag and his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul. “I was there when they lost their mom, and I know how much that hurt them. But honestly, the breakup of Pantera was worse. Vinnie would come over to the house, and he and Darrell would just go over and over scenarios in their heads trying to figure out what they did wrong. But it wasn’t them. They were trying to figure out a solution, and it really sucked to watch those two crying over that and to not be able to do anything about it.”
Haney also gives insights into Dimebag’s final days on the road with Damageplan, the band he and Vinnie formed following Pantera’s breakup. “I remember in his final days, Darrell was calling me a lot and he told me that he didn’t know what to do about [vocalist] Pat Lachman. Pat said that he didn’t want to sing any Pantera songs, but he knew what he was getting into when he joined the band. It got to the point where Darrell blew up completely. He said, ‘Look, if I want a dickhead for a singer I’ll call up Phil Anselmo! I can at least make money with that motherfucker.’ ” And in one of the interview’s most incendiary moments, she unleashes her verdict on Phil Anselmo and how his drug addictions and actions ultimately led to Dimebag’s murder in Columbus, Ohio, at the hands of deranged gunman Nathan Gale. “The bottom line is Phil’s actions led to what happened. The guy wouldn’t have been after Vinnie and Darrell if Pantera had not broken up. It was all due to Phil’s stupid, stupid actions.” To read the complete interview, pick up the March 2008 issue of Guitar World, on sale January 15.