Dimebag Darrell Abbott with his mother, Carolyn Abbott, after he won a guitar contest at the Agora Ballroom in Lake Highlands. Photo by Stoney Burns for Buddy Magazine
The late Pantera cofounder Dimebag Darrell Abbott won the basic Dean guitar that would become his signature instrument in a 1981 competition at the bygone Agora Ballroom in Lake Highlands.
He won this annual contest at least three times, winning a Dean, a Charvel and an ESP. Eventually he was asked not to compete again so that someone else could have a chance.
The Agora Ballroom was at the corner of Abrams and Northwest Highway.
Abbott, who grew up in Arlington and was murdered in a nightclub shooting in 2004, tells the story in an audio recording recently uploaded to YouTube.
The founder of Dean guitars, Dean Zelinsky, was one of the judges in that first competition and later said that Abbott “blew everyone away.”
This Wikipedia entry explains how the body of the guitar he won that day wound up as the “Dean from hell” that was Abbott’s signature guitar.
Buddy Blaze, a guitarist and luthier who had possession of the guitar for about six years, sued Dean Guitars and Abbott’s estate in 2017, claiming copyright infringement for his design of the lightening bolt that is used in Dean’s Dimebag From Hell Electric Guitar, which is based on Abbott’s customized instrument. But he lost his case because he was not the original artist.
Hear Abbott tell the story below, but beware that it contains foul language. If you need more evidence that the guy could shred, find footage of Abbott and Pantera playing Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy” better than Metallica ever played it, below that.