Happy birthday to Pantera and Hellyeah drummer Vinnie Paul, who turns 48 today. Even as he approaches the age of 50, the drummer still smashes away at the skins, using his arms and legs in ways that most men his age couldn’t even consider at this point. But he’s still got plenty of gas left in the tank.

Loudwire is celebrating VP’s birthday not simply because he is one of the greatest metal drummers ever. That pretty much goes without saying. His work was the rhythmic anchor of some of our favorite metal anthems of the ’90s — ‘Walk,’ ‘F—ing Hostile,’ ‘Becoming’ and more.

We’re also celebrating his 48th year because we love and admire the man’s resilience. Here is a musician who accomplished enough in his life, musically speaking, that he could’ve retired a long time ago without any regrets. When his brother and longtime bandmate Dimebag Darrell was tragically shot dead while performing with their post-Pantera project Damageplan in Ohio back in December 2004, Vinnie Paul would have been well within his rights to retire from active performing and ride off into the Texas sunset, running a strip club and rooting for his beloved Dallas sports teams.

That’s the type of loss changes a person on the cellular level and we would still have loved and respected this skinsman equally if he had chosen to hang up the sticks. His catalog and legacy would have been more than enough to keep fans satiated and satisfied.

But he didn’t.

He got back up on the horse with Hellyeah, a band whose first couple of albums celebrated the notion of Friday nights being the Holy Grail for the average, red-blooded American. He was able to create music that spoke to a large portion of the population that lives for rock music and values music as a therapeutic entity to help them get through the rigors of daily life.

Put simply, he wasn’t done.

Neither were we.

Paul once told this writer during an interview at the onset of Hellyeah’s second album that it was Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, who knows a thing or two about loss, as he also saw his musical career jolted and changed when Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide in April 1994, who convinced him to keep going and make music. So a thank you is certainly in order for Grohl for doing that, since Paul still has so much music left in him. We’re quite happy that he is still a key rhythm keeper in the metal world.

He’s also an inspiration for those who have endured similar tragic circumstances, only to find strength in the arts and in creating.

Happy birthday, Big Vin.

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