Photo Courtesy Stuart Taylor
By Juan R. Govea
Nestled in one of Pantego, Texas’s strip malls, you can find an ice cream parlor, a few restaurants with outdoor seating and a sign shop manager by the name of Stuart Taylor. Taylor manages Apex Signs at 2402 W. Park Row Drive and is known as “The Pimp of Pantego,” The nickname came about during his iconic past as photographer and close friend to the world-renowned Metal band, Pantera.
Taylor’s openness about his experience as a professional photographer for Pantera keeps customers at Apex Signs entertained with countless life stories of friendship, hard times and fond memories for his late friends Darrell Lance Abbott (Dimebag Darrell) and Vincent Paul Abbott (Vinnie Paul).
Stuart Taylor and Vinnie Paul of Pantera | Photo Courtesy By Stuart Taylor
Taylor has encyclopedic knowledge of the group. His friendship with the founding members dates back to the late 70s and early 80s, starting as classmates at Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas.
Taylor’s fond memories of Darrell Lance Abbott can be found adorning the walls of his office. He holds memories from before Pantera started especially close, and considers Dimebag the most caring friend he has ever had.
Taylor’s career as a photographer took him all over the country. Taylor recalls being backstage during the band’s early tours, and after the band topped the metal charts.
Stuart Taylor significantly contributed to the metal movement, using his eye to capture the iconic performances his friends were exuding on stage. Many of the most well known photos of Pantera were taken by Taylor.
Before the high points of traveling with one of the best metal bands of its time Stuart had no real photographic experience until 1979 in West Germany at a Ted Nugent concert with a borrowed instamatic camera from a GI by the name of Walt. Taylor says he is still grateful to Walt for the encouragement he gave him that day.
While in Germany Stuart practiced his photojournalistic profession, documenting concert after concert for bands such as Boston, Rainbow, Jethro Tull, and a former Ted Nugent band. Taylor also had the privilege of shooting both Led Zeppelin, and Frank Zappa in 1980 before moving back to the U.S.
Taylor formed a lasting relationship with the Abbott brothers. He moved in with them when he was kicked out of his home at the age of eighteen. His friendship with Darrell lasted twenty-four years.
Some of the most iconic photos of Pantera are those that Taylor photographed, but says he keeps a low-key persona.
“When you see photographers taking pictures of these bands with a zoom lens, I can tell you everything I shot was with a 50mm standard lens, like reunion arena in front of 10,000 people for Metallica for the cover of Metal Forces Magazine.”
Photographing with a digital camera Taylor says in 2008, media outlets for metal magazines had vanished due to print marketing’s transfer to online outlets.
Working for England’s Metal Magazines in 1988, Taylor says the best pictures he’s ever taken are no comparison to some of what he says is photoshopping genius.