Late PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott 's longtime girlfriend Rita Haney has broken her silence on the passing of Vinnie Paul Abbott , saying that the recently deceased PANTERA and HELLYEAH drummer was her "big bro for 43 years through thick and thin."
Haney wrote on Instagram : "It has taken me a while to reach out and thank everyone for all of their love and support… for just thinking of me… [It] means the world. My apologies for being so tardy. Thank you all.
"I wish I could put into words what Dime and Vinnie mean to me, but the emotions are so much more powerful than anything that I could ever say.
"I love you two so differently but yet both so dearly. You both carried me through your lives and gave me your all.
"I will always love you both and I will always fly your flag strong and proud.
" Darrell has always been my heart through thick and thin even when I didn't know, even when I made mistakes, he forgave me 100%. Vinnie has always been my 'big bro Riggs ' for 43 years through thick and thin even when I wasn't sure… and to know in the end here in this world that Riggs still felt the same. The last time we saw each other in Tampa, back in April, I told you that I knew you loved me because Darrell loved me, but that sometimes you just loved me, you gave me a big ol' Vinnie Paul -style hug and said, 'You're right. I do love you.' We hugged again.
"I can never thank you two enough for the beautiful life you both have given me… and still made sure to give me. I miss you so. My Abbott brothers. Always Stronger Than All."
Haney in 2011 called on Vinnie and former PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo to settle their differences in honor of Dimebag , who was shot and killed by a crazed gunman while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at a Columbus, Ohio rock club in December 2004.
Vinnie , who was Dimebag 's brother, and Anselmo had not spoken since PANTERA split in 2003. But the relationship got even more acrimonious when Vinnie indirectly blamed Philip for Dimebag 's death, suggesting that some remarks the vocalist had made about Dimebag in print just weeks earlier might have incited Dimebag 's killer.
Last November, Rita was asked in an interview with "The Classic Metal Show" if she thought Vinnie Paul would ever rekindle his friendship with Anselmo . She said: "Something like that and those emotions, those guys went through so much together — they went through some of the most hilarious of times and some of the most horrendous. And at the end of the day, they're still brothers there somewhere. And I just don't think a bond like that you can sever completely. And I know to carry that around, that kind of hurt and anger, is just really a lot on a person. And I know how it is for me personally.
" Philip then [and now], to me, were like two different people," she continued. "When I see photos of that long, stringy hair and yellow-colored skin and the weight loss, and looking in those eyes, that's not the Philip I ever knew — I didn't know that person and I don't want to know that person. I know when I look in his eyes now, he's the Philip I know and love, that I knew when he was 17 years old. And I know Darrell — Darrell 's the most forgiving person I've ever met in my life. I know Vinnie has been in the hot seat with him, and so has his own father. And Vinnie probably wouldn't even be speaking to his father today had it not been for Darrell 's forgiveness. And I've been in that hot seat. I've made mistakes that we forgave me for completely — I mean, one hundred percent, no doubt — to where our lives were the best that they were ever, since meeting him, since I was eight years old. And I knew I was right with him.
"Looking in Philip 's eyes today, Philip has come a long way from what he was then as to who he is now," Rita added. "And, of course, there's still resentments and things that I know we probably will never see eye-to-eye on, but when you've got a bond with somebody like that, you just… you do, whether you want to or not. [ Laughs ] You're kind of stuck with them. I've seen Philip rise through some pretty awful ashes. I've got faith in him."
Vinnie passed away on June 22 at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 54. The PANTERA and HELLYEAH drummer's death "did not appear suspicious," according to the official police report. Sources close to Vinnie told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he suffered a "major heart attack," but that information has not been corroborated yet by an official source.
Vinnie Paul was buried on June 30 next to his brother, PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott , and their mother, Carolyn , at Moore Memorial Gardens cemetery in Arlington, Texas. He was laid to rest in a custom "Kiss Kasket" provided by KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley as a gift to Vinnie 's family. Vinnie was also buried in some of his trademark clothes, including his hat, shoes and flannel.