Dimebag Darrell’s Estate Sues Dean Guitars, Dean CEO Responds
UPDATE: Dean Guitars CEO Evan Rubinson has issued a statement concerning the lawsuit to Metal Injection. It reads as follows: “We have always treated Dime and his brother Vinnie with the utmost respect and loyalty. We have enjoyed a long-standing, 17-year relationship with Dime and Vinnie, and continue that relationship with Vinnie's estate on the ddrum side. We are shocked and saddened to see the actions that Ms. Haney has taken after both the Abbott brothers have tragically passed away, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors.
"However, it is unfortunate that Ms. Haney has allowed her unrealistic demands and accusations to dictate the future of the Dimebag Darrell legacy in the absence of Dime's immediate family. Dean Guitars is proud to have played a role in ensuring Dime's legacy not only survived, but thrived over the past 17 years. We have stood by the estate through good and bad. Ms. Haney’s claims — across the board — are baseless, without any merit and not grounded in reality. We will allow the full truth to come out as the legal process takes its course.”
The estate of the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell has terminated the icon's posthumous endorsement of Dean Guitars and sued the musical instrument manufacturer for, among other things, breach of contract, fraud and accounting irregularities related to the partnership, as Rita Haney, Darrell's bereaved girlfriend and estate trustee, revealed this week.
On Monday (Aug. 16), Haney issued a statement outlining the situation and shared documentation of the entire lawsuit on the official Dimebag Darrell website. Dimebag, whose real name was Darrell Abbott, switched from endorsing Washburn Guitars to Dean shortly before he was murdered onstage in 2004 during a performance by his post-Pantera band, Damageplan.
"After much consideration, it is with great sadness that I announce the longstanding relationship between Dimebag and Dean Guitars is over," Haney shared.
"Unfortunately, we were forced to file a lawsuit against Dean Guitars," she explained, saying it was "necessary for us to end Dime's endorsement of Dean Guitars to continue to honor and celebrate his legacy the way he deserves, and in the way he had laid it out."
"We do not make this decision lightly," Haney continued, "and it is with a heavy heart that we share this news with you, Dime's loyal fans. … After signing the deal with Dean Guitars in 2004, Dime was ecstatic to finally be working with … [Dean founder] Mr. Dean Zelinsky, who's been gone from the company since 2008."
Indeed, many of the complaints seem to stem from what the estate suggests was a disregard of Dime in the company in the years after Zelinsky's tenure and following a transfer of power from former Dean CEO Elliot Rubinson to his son Evan.
In the lawsuit, as Blabbermouth reported, Haney claims Evan Rubinson was at times "incredibly disrespectful and often times belligerent to the legacy of Abbott." She feels Dean "had taken complete advantage of Abbott over the years and refused to continue a business relationship with Dean Guitars unless Dean Guitars was willing to right its wrongs."
The lawsuit, which demands a jury trial, also alleges that Dean "never paid the contracted amount for each full cover photo" of Dimebag with a Dean instrument that appeared in magazines and elsewhere. It also takes issue with Dean's apparent ownership of Dime's signature Razorback electric guitar design.
"Our love for Dime has not wavered in the 16-plus years since his passing," Haney said, "and he is still as relevant to us today. … In this spirit, we soon hope to have more positive news to share with you regarding the future of 'Dime guitars.' Dime loved his fans so very much, [and] in return, you guys have never wavered in your loyalty and love for him. We cannot thank you enough."
Early in his career, Dime was sponsored by the first version of the Dean Guitars company. His brother, Vinnie Paul — the drummer of Pantera, Damageplan and Hellyeah — died in 2018.
Read the full text of the lawsuit at dimebagdarrell.com.