Rita Haney, longtime girlfriend of Dimebag Darrell Abbott (Pantera, Damageplan) has taken to social media to announce for Dimebag’s longstanding association with Dean Guitars to be over. As trustee of the estate of Dimebag Darrell, Rita Haney has overseen the late guitarists legal affairs since his death on December 8, 2004.
Dimebag’s longtime association with Dean Guitars started at age 14 when, after winning a guitar competition hosted by Dallas radio station Q102, he was prized with a bright red Dean ML guitar. The son of a country music producer, a 16 year old Dimebag (then Diamond Darrell), along with his brother Vinnie Paul on drums would release their first Pantera album Metal Magic in 1986, alongside bass player Rex “Rocker” Brown and singer Terry Glaze. The band would go on to release Projects in the Jungle and I Am The Night, before bringing in Phil Anselmo on vocals for their last independent release Power Metal in 1988.
1990 would see their major label debut Cowboys From Hell, after which Dime would sign an endorsement deal which would see him through the next two albums Vulgar Display Of Power (1992) and Far Beyond Driven (1994). Dean Guitars went out of business soon after and Dime went on to sign a 10 year contract with Washburn Guitars. Dean reopened in 1997, Pantera dissolved in 2003, making way for Dime and Vinnie’s new band DAMAGEPLAN, and after Dime’s 10 year deal with Washburn had expired, he then initiated the process to re-sign with Dean on November 11, 2004.
Three weeks later on December 8, 2004 in a club in Dallas, Dimebag was tragically murdered on stage whilst playing in DAMAGEPLAN. Four others were killed that night, including crew member Jeff “Mayhem” Thompson, club employee Erin Halk and fan Nathan Bray. Dean finalised the deal with Dime’s estate in his death and produced iconic guitars such as The Razorback, Stealth Floyd FM and The Dean From Hell ML.
Dimebag’s passing saw the re-emergence of the guitar hero. He has been ranked No.92 in Rolling Stone‘s list of “The Top 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” in 2011 and in 2015 was listed as the most influential metal guitarist in the last 25 years by VH1.
At the turn of the century, in the midst of nu-metal’s dominance, the guitar solo had all but been removed from heavy music, bands instead opting for low end, slow/fast riff heavy songs with the odd pinch-harmonic thrown in. Even bands as huge as Metallica had all but eliminated the guitar solo (a complaint made by guitar god Kirk Hammett in the Metallica doco “Some Kind Of Monster”). In the wake of Dime’s death, and the emergence of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal (NWOAHM), bands like Lamb of God, Trivium and Killswitch Engage all brought back the guitar hero on the back of already established guitar legends like Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society) and Robb Flynn (Machine Head).
A lawsuit has been filed by Haney on August 16, 2021 looking to removes Dean Guitars authority to use Dimebag’s name, likeness and designs on any and all guitars and merchandise. In a statement, Haney has alleged that:
“the new CEO of Dean Guitars (Evan Rubinson) told me that Dime has been dead for 16 years and they could not make the money they once did… (so basically, he’s used up) and then continued on to tell me I should go elsewhere”.
Dean CEO Evan Rubinson replied in a statement via Blabbermouth:
“We have always treated Dime and his brother Vinnie with the utmost respect and loyalty. We have enjoyed a long-standing, 17-year relationship with Dime and Vinnie, and continue that relationship with Vinnie’s estate on the drum side.
“We are shocked and saddened to see the actions that Ms. Haney has taken after both the Abbott brothers have tragically passed away, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors. However, it is unfortunate that Ms. Haney has allowed her unrealistic demands and accusations to dictate the future of the Dimebag Darrell legacy in the absence of Dime’s immediate family.
“Dean Guitars is proud to have played a role in ensuring Dime’s legacy not only survived, but thrived over the past 17 years. We have stood by the estate through good and bad. Ms. Haney’s claims — across the board — are baseless, without any merit, and not grounded in reality. We will allow the full truth to come out as the legal process takes its course.”
More on this story as it progresses…
Written by Duane James @duanejames666