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Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul dies aged 54

Vinnie Paul (from Pantera) of American heavy metal supergroup Hellyeah opens the concert of American nu metal band Korn on March 12 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Vinnie Paul saw his brother and bandmate assassinated on stage

Vinnie Paul, co-founder and drummer of the metal band Pantera, has died aged 54, the band announced on Facebook.

"Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul has passed away," a statement said.

There was no cause of death given.

Paul started Pantera in 1981 with his brother, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott - the pair were sons to the country-western producer Jerry Abbott. The band had a number one album in 1994 and earned four Grammy nominations, but disbanded in 2003 amid rumours of a rift.

Paul said at the time the breakup was a result of the band's singer, Phil Anselmo, wanting to move on.

In 2004 the two brothers formed a new band, Damageplan, but later that year a 25-year-old man stormed the stage at a gig in Columbus, Ohio, shooting dead Darrell Abbott and three others.

In 2006, Paul joined Hellyeah, alongside the former Mudvayne singer Chad Gray and Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell.

Fellow metal and rock stars paid tribute to the drummer.

"Another metal hero taken too soon," said Dave Mustaine, the founder and lead singer of Megadeth.

"Heaven has Dimebag and Vinnie now," wrote the Blink 182 drummer, Travis Barker.

"Loved when Pantera did shows with us and in later years Vinnie was always front and center at all KISS shows," wrote Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley.

"Gutted to hear about the nicest guy in metal passing," wrote the band Papa Roach.

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