Robb Flynn records Debbie Abono tribute

June 26th, 2010
by EvilG

MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn has recorded audio and video of an acoustic cover of BLACK SABBATH’s “Die Young” song from the classic “Heaven and Hell” album for free download in tribute to the late Debbie Abono, who sadly passed away on the same day as legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio. In a statement made at the beginning of the video (which was recorded the day after Debbie’s passing and which can be viewed at this location), Robb says, “I don’t know why I recorded this song, it doesn’t really have relevance to Debbie or Dio, but I was sad and depressed and it was the only thing that made sense in the world.”

There are no plans to officially release Flynn’s version of “Die Young”, but an MP3 version of the track is available for free download at the MACHINE HEAD web site, www.machinehead1.com.

Debbie Abono, a well-respected and much-loved manager and promotional machine behind some of San Francisco Bay Area’s strongest metal bands (POSSESSED, FORBIDDEN, EXODUS, VIO-LENCE, SKINLAB), passed away on May 16 at approximately 9:59 a.m. PST after a battle with cancer. She was 80 years old.

According to David Konow, author of the “Bang Your Head: The Rise And Fall Of Heavy Metal”, Debbie Abono was in her mid-fifties when she began to manage a band named POSSESSED. Abono started taking her daughters to MOTÖRHEAD shows, where the members of POSSESSED first asked her to manage the band. “There’s nothing to it,” they told her. “All you gotta do is get us shows.” Abono agreed and even allowed them to practice at her house.

POSSESSED’s association with Debbie Abono was not a “first” for both sides: Debra Abono worked with LaLonde and Becerra’s “Blizzard” while they were sophomores in high school even — before they guys learned to drive. Abono would then become the band’s first manager, and POSSESSED were Abono’s first official managed band. Abono had no previous connection to heavy metal music other than as a concert designated driver for her daughters, one of whom was a girlfriend of guitarist Larry LaLonde. Due to generation gap, Abono also had limited awareness of the sometimes blasphemous themes of heavy metal, and was allegedly offended upon reading the lyric sheet of “Seven Churches”. Nevertheless, she agreed to manage and represent POSSESSED as long as bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra and LaLonde finished high school commitments. Although the group’s relationship amongst themselves and their first manager would reach points of discord and eventual termination, Abono would go on to manage additional bands in the Bay Area metal scene like EXODUS, VIO-LENCE and FORBIDDEN EVIL (pre-FORBIDDEN), as well as death metal bands like Chicago’s BROKEN HOPE and Florida’s CYNIC and OBITUARY.

In a May 17 statement regarding Debbie Abono’s passing, Flynn said:

Yesterday was a very sad day for metal. I am devastated at the passing of Debbie Abono and words aren’t coming very clear for me right now.  Debbie was like a second mom to me, and having never lost a family member yet, this is very difficult. Debbie managed VIO-LENCE [Flynn's pre-MACHINE HEAD band], and toured with us in a van as manager, tour manager, mom, friend, and facilitator. Phil [Demmel; current MACHINE HEAD and former VIO-LENCE guitarist] and I were her roommates at crummy Motel 6’s across America. Thinking back on it now, touring with a bunch of snot-nosed thrash metal-ers for two months at a time in a van, playing crummy clubs, isn’t the usual course most 55-year-old ladies take in their lives, but she was no ordinary 55-year-old lady. She was fiery, feisty, charming, funny, and could look a person over in about two seconds and find something to joke about / roast them about should they wanted to test her.

She was one of the biggest forces behind the thrash and early-death-metal movements than I think most people will ever realize.

I dated her daughter Gina, and I lived at her house in Pinole on and off in my late teens, and even after Gina and I broke up, she gave me an incredible amount of belief and advice once MACHINE HEAD started.

My wife Genevra and I used to go out to dinner with her fairly regularly, especially before kids, and she was there the next day after my boys were born. She always came to our parties.

She was so proud of what we accomplished. Most importantly, she believed in me, even right up until the end.

The last time we spoke, she told me how much she loved me, and that ‘my money is on Robb Flynn.’

Fuck. What the fuck. I’m crying.

Rest in peace, Debbie.

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