Fans ensure slain rocker will always be with them

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

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ARLINGTON – Jimmy Fisher was a 13-year-old kid when he heard Pantera’s buzz saw roar for the first time.

“It was chaotic but soothing,” he said Saturday night, scanning the walls of an Arlington tattoo parlor for interesting designs. “I got hooked for life.”

So when former Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was shot dead on an Ohio stage Wednesday night, Jimmy knew he had to mark the passing with needles and flesh.

“Dimebag Darrell is the reason I picked up an electric guitar,” he said. “I can’t even tell you what a friendly, nice guy he was.”

The strip-mall tattoo parlor, Only Forever Tattoo, offered a special Saturday night for fans like Jimmy: A small Dimebag or Pantera tattoo, normally $50, could be had for a dime. He was first in line.

He’d heard about the shooting only hours after it happened, via a friend’s phone call. “I started crying, dude,” he said. “I didn’t know how to take it. It put me in a state of shock.”

Jimmy wanted a circular “CFH” on his right calf. Pantera’s 1990 album “Cowboys From Hell” was the band’s debut on the national stage, and the initials have been a symbol of the band ever since.

The tattoo parlor’s 10-cent special could have bought him a silver dollar-size “CFH,” but Jimmy ponied up $50 for a version about 4 inches across. “I don’t do small tattoos,” said the man, whose opposite shin features a pink skull engulfed in green flames.

Rob Clark, the tattoo artist, shaved a swath of Jimmy’s leg hair and dipped his needle into a dime-sized thimble of black ink. “He was a cool guy, nice guy,” Rob remembered of Dimebag, a former customer. “Always bought me drinks.”

Jimmy remembered going to a party at the guitarist’s house when he was 16. He didn’t think his friends would believe he’d really been there, so he sneaked into his hero’s bathroom and smuggled out a copy of Entertainment Weekly with Darrell Abbott’s name on the mailing label. “I’ve still got it,” he said. “Now I’ve got to get a glass case to put it in.”

Jimmy, 24, is assembling his own band now. He won’t bother coming up with a name until he can find a bass player. But he said a Pantera cover will definitely figure into their set list.