Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante has detailed the emotional moment when Eddie Van Halen paid special tribute to "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott following the Pantera guitarist’s death.

It was December 2004, just days after Dimebag had been tragically killed onstage during a performance in Columbus, Ohio. Benante was one of the many rockers to attend Dimebag’s funeral, and he was sitting with the members of Pantera when Van Halen approached.

“We were in the family room. It was me, Vinnie was sitting with me, and Rex (Brown) had just gotten there, too. So Rex was sitting next to me,” Benante recalled during a recent appearance on the Vinyl Guide podcast.

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“I noticed that Eddie was carrying a guitar,” the Anthrax drummer continued. “And (Eddie) came right over to us and he crouched down, put the guitar down on the floor and crouched down and was talking to us, just saying how sorry he was. And I noticed on the guitar case it had a piece of tape that was there for like, forever. And it said VH2 on it.”

Dimebag was heavily influenced by Van Halen and wore his fandom proudly. Though he and Eddie had only become friends shortly before the Pantera rocker’s death, they shared a close bond. In the wake of Dimebag’s murder, Van Halen was determined to honor his fallen comrade.

“Darrell’s favorite Van Halen guitar was the bumblebee, which was on Van Halen II,” Benante recalled. “And (Eddie) opens the guitar and he says, ‘I brought this for your brother.’ It was the guitar from the back of Van Halen II.”

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“We went into the other room and he placed the guitar in the coffin with Darrell,” Benante continued, describing the scene. “We all lost it. Right now, I’m thinking about it and I get choked up just thinking about it, because it was such a special moment. And that was my first encounter with Eddie Van Halen. It was very surreal.”

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Like Dimebag, Benante was a passionate fan of Van Halen. Though he'd encounter the guitar god several more times over the years, this first interaction at the funeral always carried the most weight.

“What I was seeing in front of me was something that almost felt like a dream," the drummer noted. "It was absolutely a very emotional moment and I will never forget that.”

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Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening

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