antiMUSIC is pleased to welcome aboard with Chuck DiMaria, who will be giving us his 2 cents every week on a variety of music topics.

As always the views expressed by the writer do not neccessarily reflect the views of antiMUSIC or the iconoclast entertainment group

I'm Your Biggest Fan

"I'm your biggest fan!"

Those four little words are enough to strike fear into any performer's heart.

Talk about a dichotomy: You need the fans desperately, but they'll be the first ones to turn on you. And when they do, it usually gets pretty ugly.

I've been onstage enough to know a few things and one of them is that it's really no big deal to be onstage. I mean, given the right lighting and sound, anyone can look like a rockstar up there. However, it doesn't matter how good you look or sound, if there's no one in the audience, it don't mean a thing.

And that's where the fans come in. They are the true measure of success. If you can sell tickets, you're a star, but if no one shows up, you're not. Period, end of story, film at eleven.

So as an entertainer, you learn early on that you need fans. Your job is to get new fans all the time and keep the ones you have happy. And it's not easy by any stretch of the imagination.

It's not easy because times change, people change, you change and when that happens you just might lose fans because they really don't want you to change.

I mean, which would you rather have, the skinny, young Elvis or the old, fat, bloated Elvis?

But you will change and so will your music and your outlook and your attitude and just about everything else. Sometimes, that's the way you get fans. That growth as an artist is important if you want to keep things fresh. But sometimes that change isn't a positive one, or at least isn't viewed as such.

And that's when you can lose fans.

Now here's what usually happens: First, they love you, and I mean they love you in a way that your girlfriend only dreams about. We're talking total devotion to the point of embarrassment and tears here. Then it starts to cool off a bit. Maybe you got too popular for your own good, maybe you sold out to get too popular for your own good, whatever the case may be, that early flame of passion is starting to cool. And then finally, perhaps even inevitably, your once hard-core fans all say that you suck, and they're saying it loud and proud.

What causes that luge ride down the slippery slope of dreams is really anybody's guess, but it's bound to happen. And there's nothing wrong with it, because when you think about it, that's the only way you'll really know who your true fans are. In life, your true friends are the ones who allow you to be who you really are. The same thing holds true with music.

And since growth is good and change is good, you decide to do a little growing and a little changing. Maybe you take a few guys from your old band and you start a new one. And then you take the show on the road so you can go out there and do what you love.

So you're up on stage, doing what you love, and some fan a fan, mind you, not some guy who hates your guts - shoots you dead. Yeah, you gotta love them fans.

You know what really pisses me off the most about what happened to Dimebag? It was for no damn good reason. He didn't go out and toss his pregnant wife off a boat or stab his ex-wife in the doorway of her apartment or shoot her in the car after dinner. All he did was change bands.

Can anyone find a crime here?

It's one thing for a cop to have to worry about the criminals, but for a performer to have to worry about the fans? I'm surprised this loser didn't have a well-worn copy of Catcher In The Rye in his back pocket.

You know, when the Great White fire broke out, a lot of my friends were really shaken up by it because we had all played a club exactly like that at one point or another in our lives. Some little dive bar where one careless cigarette could have set the whole place on fire. We watched in absolute horror when it actually happened.

Well, I'll let you in on another secret: I can't tell you how many times I've been onstage, blinded by the spotlights and the smoke, and I thought to myself, "Man, I'm a sitting duck up here." I know that sounds a bit morbid, but we all think that way. Looking out from the stage is like staring into a flashlight. That's about all you can really see.

But I never underline never thought it would actually happen. And the guy didn't even do it from the audience; he went onstage to do it. He thought about it, planned it out and then went and did it.

And all because he blamed Dimebag Darrell for the breakup of Pantera? You're kidding me, right?

Look, there are things that I would kill and/or die for, but rock n roll isn't one of them, kids.

Now, some will say that this guy was a fanatic, as a matter of fact that's where we get the word "fan". Yeah, that may be true, but the most virulent hater of rock music probably won't pick up a gun and storm the stage. Your fans, however, are the ones you have to watch.

What an abysmal waste.

You do it all for the fans, only to be gunned down by one. What kind of injustice is that?

I'm saying this because I know that the boys in Damageplan would never lash out at the fans for what one deranged fool did. But when I heard about it, my skin just crawled. One thing that ran through my mind was the thought of copycat killers. That's all we'd need. Then security at concerts will rival airport security post 9/11.

And I am not lumping all fans into the crazed fan section, either. I'm just pointing out something that most entertainers know; if it's going to come from anywhere, it's gonna come from a fan.

It is a very precarious relationship at best.

Now, a lot of people have posted their sentiments with regard to the murder of Dimebag, and they were all pretty touching. All of them were heartfelt condolences and sincere words of remembrance that came from some of the hardest rockers out there.

Of course, I also read some of the fan postings on the Damageplan website right after the murder. Some of them were not that heart-felt at all. Actually, some of them bordered on repugnant.

But what can I say? They're fans and sometimes fans think they deserve special treatment for being fans. Or at least that's what it seems like. It also seems like entertainers aren't really treated like human beings by their fans.

That's a disturbing aspect of being an entertainer; the treatment you receive by the fans. Sometimes it's hard to take it when they treat you like you're not even a real person. And it's very easy to be misunderstood at that point. And the last thing you want is some crazed fan getting the wrong idea.

As far as this tragedy goes, I do hope for a little peace for Darrell Abbott, his family and his friends.

But as for the fans, I think that Dan Jacobs from Atreyu said it best: "It's a sad day when being such a good guitar player can get you killed."

That's my two cents, now rest in peace, Dimebag.

Chuck DiMaria is Los Angeles based musician, actor and antiMUSIC columnist (his resume goes on). Check out his website ChuckDiMaria.com for more of his writings, MP3s and more (be sure to read about his adventures in online dating!!) Plus be sure check out the site for his band Under Pressure.