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Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times, and Tragic End of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott Paperback – June 2, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Darrell Abbott, known to fans of rock band Pantera as Dimebag Darrell, was shot to death by a deranged fan while playing a show in Columbus, Ohio, in 2004. This horrific event, recounted in nightmarish detail and replete with gratuitous comparisons to September 11, bookends Crain's reverential but superficial chronicle of the highly regarded heavy-metal guitarist's career. As narrated by Crain, Dallas Observer music editor, Darrell is a hard-drinking mama's boy who, growing up in Arlington, Tex., refined his guitar chops by walling himself up in his room for hours instead of going to high school. With his brother, Vince, and other neighborhood musicians, Darrell formed the band Pantera. Under the influence of Metallica and with the addition of a rough-edged singer named Phil Anselmo, the band evolved into a major force on the metal scene with its original blend of technical skill and Southern attitude. Pantera achieved massive success in the '90s with the release of a few albums, including the heaviest album to hit No. 1 on the charts, Far Beyond Driven, and toured the world. Crain dutifully recounts the addictions and intra-band squabbling that inevitably shadow rock success, but the cheerful strangeness and decency of Dimebag, perhaps best exemplified by his collaboration with the eccentric country musician David Allen Coe, manages to shine through, even in the darker corners of the narrative. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The Bookseller, 3/2/09
“This long-awaited account of a hard rocking life cut short has real cult sleeper potential.”

Booklist, 6/1/09
“Crain describes the career of an accomplished and influential guitarist…Crain’s iteration of the man and his career…is a fitting memorial.”

Texas Monthly, June 2009
“[Crain] captures the essence of the band's virtuoso guitarist, who was revered by musicians and fans alike for his outrageous skills and everyman persona.”

Dallas Morning News Texas Pages blog, 5/30/09
“Chronicle[s] Abbot’s life and career with careful detail and just the right amount of appreciation.”

Blogcritics.org, 5/25/09
“A fast and thoroughly entertaining read—a definite page turner…For fans of Dimebag Darrell, Pantera, and heavy metal in general it's a must. But even if you never banged your head in the moshpit to ‘I'm Broken,’ Dimebag's story, like a good, stiff drink, is one you wont want to put down.”

“[An] excellent biography…Crain pulls off a difficult task. While Black Tooth Grin is essential reading for any fan of ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott or his band, it’s not a ‘meatheads only’ book. It will reach anyone who’s ever heard a killer riff and thought, ‘God, I want to play like that.”

Revolver Magazine, August 2009
“This poetic biography uses vivid prose to illustrate late Pantera shredder Dimebag Darrell’s life…A heartwarming homage to the guitarist’s memory.”

“Tells about the life [Dimebag] led and what might have been.”

RoyChristopher.com, 6/14/09
“Tells Dimebag’s story, from his birth in Arlington, Texas to his death on stage in Columbus, Ohio, from Pantera’s glittery late-80s beginnings to their chart-destroying reign as one of Metal’s most unrelenting acts…Sheds new light on that harrowing night in Columbus in 2004…A damn good story.”

Quick, 7/2/09
“A thoroughly researched biography and a fun read.”

“Crain explores with vivid detail the 1981 birth, rise to fame, and ultimate demise of Pantera, as well as the rebirth of the Abbott brothers and rock's bloodiest onstage tragedy…Black Tooth Grin is the long-awaited story of Dimebag Darrell, and a tour de force of American music journalism.”

Quick, 7/2/09
“Crain successfully paints a raw but often reverential picture of Dimebag.”

Infodad.com, 7/2/09
“Clearly aimed at the remaining fans of heavy metal in general and of Abbott in particular.”

Dallas News, 7/5/09
Black Tooth Grin is longtime area writer Zac Crain's attempt at telling Abbott's story, and for the most part he succeeds…One thing Crain absolutely nails…—and what is really the heart of Abbott's story—is his open, unpretentious nature.”

Q, July 2009
“A hugely sympathetic portrait, with Abbott’s basic humanity shining through even as his band’s US success brought them into contact with the seedier side of the music industry.”

Trademark of Quality, 6/24/09
“Does a fine job of presenting the genesis of Abbott's lifelong infatuation with the guitar…Crain describes the many bumps in the road and the obstacles overcome by Pantera in becoming, perhaps, the best-known metal outfit during the alt-rock years…Crain is an engaging writer, and Black Tooth Grin is a quick, entertaining read that captures the essence of Dimebag Darrell Abbot.”

Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles
“Not only chronicles, but also celebrates the remarkable achievements and unique experiences that filled Dime’s life…The one-of-a-kind story is lovingly told and accurately recounted…Black Tooth Grin provides a true sense of who Dime was and what it was like to be around him…Unlike the majority of unauthorized biographies that essentially amount to nothing more than a quick cash-grab, this book has been well researched…It’s definitely worth reading.”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7/16/09
“Admirable for its ambition…The depth of sourcing…allows for different insight than the family might provide.”

January, 7/22/09
“Crain seems to hit all the right notes, skillfully blending fact with educated fancy, filling in the blanks and also imagining the what-might have beens and the nearly-weres. Metal fans will, of course, find Black Tooth Grin to be a must-read but even those who had only barely heard of Abbott will find Crain’s book compelling. It’s a portrait of the music industry exactly as you always suspected it was… and yet entirely different. Fascinating.”

Blurt, Fall 2009
“A vivid portrait of Dimebag, written in a style that suits his rep as a big-hearted hell-raiser…The upshot is we get to know and like Dimebag all over again, intimately as a close friend.”

Salt Lake Under Ground, August 2009
“It may be a cliché, but the introduction alone will leave any reader, regardless of musical orientation, breathless. The rest of the biography only improves from there…This book is required reading for metal heads and highly recommended for anybody interested in music.”

MNS Music’s Headbang blog, 8/10/09
“A terrific first book…A complete biography, detailing not only Abbott's childhood as one of two sons of a Texas recording engineer, and Pantera's early years, but every step of the group's rise to prominence in the early 1990s and ultimate, bitter dissolution…A quick, easy read…A very welcome addition to any metalhead's library. By all means check it out.”

GuitarNoize,com, 11/23/09
“An unauthorized biography of the Arlington, Texas shredder…This is a fascinating insight into the life and death of Darrell Abbott and one that I highly recommend.”

DC Metal Music Examiner.com, 12/8/09
“The book gives a different angle on Abbott and the band that brought him to fame…What is most interesting about this book are the moments when the focus is put on those who helped the band early on…The tone is conversational and filled with humorous anecdotes and metaphors making it enjoyable…Black Tooth Grin does provide an excellent way to remember a star in the metal world that left an eternal audience to soon.”

Premier Guitar, 12/8/09
“Provides a well-rounded, introspective look into Abbott’s world as music fan, guitarist, party ambassador and mama’s boy.”


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306815249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306815249
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Zac Crain is the author of Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times, and Tragic End of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. Formerly the music editor at the Dallas Observer -- and, prior to that, a janitor at an elementary school in West, Texas -- he is currently a senior editor at D Magazine. His writing has also appeared in Esquire, Spin, RollingStone.com, American Way, and various other publications. He lives in Dallas.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This biography by Crain is an unauthorized one, because of this there are a lot of details left out, it's still a worthy read for the hardcore Dimebag enthusiast. Much of the books content is taken from magazines, interviews, and the few friends of Dime who were willing to share their experiences. Nobody from the Abbot/Pantera camp makes any statements in the book, outside of quotes taken from different interviews. Due to this approach there are a lot of details left out, however most of the core details are intact. The book feels to at times skate over periods where there is little documentation of Dime or Pantera's history. It also feels as though it's content is stretched extremely thin at times. The author constantly reminds the reader how great a guitarist Dime was, or how much he liked to drink and party. While both of these statements are true, it feels as though the book reverts back to these reminders for the sole purpose of filling a few more pages. While the book does have many flaws, one must remember that it is an unauthorized biography, and with what Crain had to work with he did a fairly decent job. For a hardcore Dime or Pantera fan, it is definitely worth reading, however you will not get the full story from this, just an in depth overview.
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Format: Paperback
Enjoyed this book and have been inspired to revisit the Pantera catalogue again and also order a Dimebag t shirt.

Whilst the book is unauthorised, Crain does a credible job of telling Dimebag's story. I would have liked more details about Darrell and Vinnie's strained relationship with their father and also the romance between Rita and Darrell.

I would recommend this book to any fan looking for a quick and entertaining read.

The only thing that really disappointed and angered me was the aftermath of the shooting. On top of the loss of Dimebag, I cannot believe how several people who were at the Alrosa Villa that night later started legal proceedings against the club owners. I will never understand why the US has such a culture involving everyone suing each other and laying blame for what was clearly a sad and freak occurance.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a great synopsis of the life of Dimebag and it really shows who he was as a person ans as a guitar god. Crain gives many insightful facts beginning with Dime and Vinnie's childhood and goes till the tragic and unwarranted death of Dimebag Darrell Abbott. I would highly reccomend this to any metal fan or anyone just interested about who Dimebag was and how he will always be remembered.
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Format: Paperback
In his first book and the first unauthorized biography of metal rocker, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, author Zac Crain provides us a fast, yet detailed account of the life and death of the larger-than-life musician. It is an easy read because it is a joy to read.

An accomplished writer about the music scene, Crain knows the lingo and understands what is important to his readers, those devoted to "Dimebag," his band Pantera and the final iteration of that band, Damageplan. Fans who clamor for information on Abbott the man, his character, musical influences (though, of course devotees know about his affinity for KISS and Van Halen) and his associations with other musicians will find a wealth of information in these pages. Crain has talked with former band members and those in the media, such as Juliya Chernetsky, host of the FUSE network's metal show to provide a full picture of "Dimebag" the generous guy, the partier, the musician.

Black Tooth Grin, named after the whisky and cola shot drink "Dimebag" loved to down, and pour for others, gives the reader a thoughtful look at Abbott's beginnings in Arlington, Texas, a suburb of Dallas and his development as a skilled guitarist with an instantly recognizable sound to his morphing into a business person of sorts. Crain never merely chronicles "Dimebag's" life and career.

Perhaps more importantly and impressively, Crain draws conclusions and suggests causes and effects but never at the expense of the facts. In other words, Crain does not marshal or manipulate mention of incidents in Abbott's life to support his own theories of the whats and whys of "Dimebag's" success, failure, even of his murder. That is exactly what we want in a biographer.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book begins which a preamble describing the horrible events of the night Dime was murdered. We all know what happened, but not exactly HOW it happened, and the author does a great job of describing the events with edge of your seat tension.
The rest of the book chronicles the rise of Dime/Pantera into the realm of Metal Gods. A couple of thing stood out. Dime was such a gifted player, a veteran of the club circuit at the ripe age of 17, obliterating his competition, some which were years older than him. Second it shows just how honest, unassuming and sincere Dime was in life. Not to mention how down to earth, he and Vinny lived with their mom well after Pantera became a national act, and one of their first acts of generosity was to make sure SHE was taken care of. Vinny and Dime were the perfect Yin/Yang. Dime represented the good time rock and roll, Vinny was the heady business type with very underrated savvy in a cutthroat business.
A great deal of time is spent on the typical 'backstage' antics, but a lot of time is spent on the evolution of the band from a hair metal outfit to the bludgeoning juggernaut that Pantera became,all through it, we get glimpses of Dime's humanity through touching annecdotes that remind us just how special he was as a human being. Dime loved to party, but it never interferred with his true love: guitar shredding, and this theme is repeated throughout the book.
My only criticism was that I would have liked a little more perspective from the "outcast" Phil Anselmo, his take, his thoughts etc...but then the book is about DIME, really, and it's a minor criticism....well worth a read!
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