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The Six Best "Rivalries" in 25 Years of Dallas Observer Music Awards

Rigor Mortis '88
Rigor Mortis '88
James Bland

This year, we'll celebrate our 25th Dallas Observer Music Awards. Voting is open now, and the ceremony is on November 5 at House of Blues. Over the years, we've seen our fair share of bands appearing on the DOMA nominee list year after year. And, in a few notable cases, they found themselves in the same match-ups again and again. So here's a rundown of six of our favorite mostly friendly rivalries from the past two and a half decades.

See also: The 2013 Dallas Observer Music Showcase Schedule

6. Drowning Pool versus Slow Roosevelt for Best Metal

Forever known as "Dallas' band on the brink," Slow Roosevelt won the DOMA's Best Metal category so many times during the early part of this century. It was as if their name alone garnered a weird recognition that equated to votes among fans. In 2000, when Drowning Pool appeared to challenge the Dallas' favorites for the coveted title, Slow Roosevelt easily swatted the upstarts down. In 2001, they faced off again with the same results. But that same year, Drowning Pool released their debut album Sinner, which went platinum within six weeks, and found themselves jamming alongside Ozzy Osbourne, while Slow Roosevelt was left with an armload of DOMAs but no record contract or national recognition.

5. Kim Platko versus Bugs Henderson for Best Guitarist

When these two musical giants faced off in the first year of the DOMA, the gods of rock had to brace the heavens for the hellish onslaught that would soon follow. At the time, Kim Platko was a member of Café Noir, a Gypsy Jazz/world music ensemble and played as if the spirit of Django Reinhardt was guiding him. Platko's finger dancing is among the best in the world. Bugs Henderson, however, could take you straight to hell with his guitar playing. His grooves channeled a part of the blues that hadn't been heard since Robert Johnson sung about hellhounds. After Henderson's death in 2012, Ted Nugent called him "a quintessential American soulful guitar adventurer." But our readers already knew that because they awarded him the Best Guitarist and Best Blues title on more than one occasion.

4. Rigor Mortis versus Lord Tracy for Best Metal

Imagine being fired from your band because they're looking to channel the Southern Metal their guitarslinger's weapon is screaming only to come face to face with one of their rivals as a DOMA nominee for Best Metal, especially when your band is releasing hair metal love ballads.But that's exactly what happened in '90 when former Pantera frontman Terry Glaze's new band Lord Tracy battled Bruce Corbitt's thrash metal band Rigor Mortis. Satan's still chuckling about this match up.

 

3. Jim Suhler versus Pops Carter

Facing a true Delta bluesman in the Best Blues category is something not many progressive blues players have the honor of claiming these days. But Jim Suhler had that opportunity when his name appeared next to Pops Carter not once but (at least) three times in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Pops was a local Denton blues legend who'd frequent various venues and festivals across the city, including Fry Street Fair, Denton Arts and Jazz Festival and the Denton Blues Festival. And while their battle was more of a mutual admiration than a bloody feud, neither Suhler nor Carter ever won a DOMA. Yet Suhler will always remember that old Delta bluesman whose ghost is now haunting the remnants of Fry Street.

2. Pantera versus... who the fuck cares?

Sometimes it seems like the Best Metal category is cursed. Pantera has appeared on our list on five different occasions, losing to Rigor Mortis in '89 and '91 and Naked Truth in '92 before finally securing a win the following year. Despite failing to slay their fellow DOMA nominees in those early years, they were dominating stages across the country with their Southern Metal, becoming the biggest metal band in the world by the time they won the DOMA in '93. And while the rest of us in Dallas may have been slow to recognize Dimebag Darrell's genius, it didn't take us long to realize that these Texas outlaws were truly legends of before their time because we awarded them another DOMA in '95.

1. Bruce Corbitt versus his band Rigor Mortis

But none of these battles top the feud between the guys of Rigor Mortis when, in 1990, their young excommunicated singer from Irving approached the stage to accept his former band's second Best Metal award. "I felt uncomfortable because no one was going up there," says former lead singer Bruce Corbitt. "I got on the mic in front of this big sold out crowd, and I'm like, 'I'd like to thank everyone, but this is kind of a weird situation because I was recently terminated by the band. I'm the only one who showed up, so I'd like to thank Jeff Liles and everyone that voted..." The crowd roars.

Rigor Mortis somehow managed to win the Best Metal category in '91, too, despite the ousting of their singer. But they soon disbanded. "Well, a lot of it came down to personal dislikes," Bruce says. "Mainly Casey got to the point where he just couldn't really stand me. It's like when you have a roommate and after six months you just reach that point where everything they do - like leaving the cap off the toothpaste - is just getting on your nerves. I kind of became that guy to Casey."

Bruce and Casey were able to overcome their differences, and today they're still playing metal in their band Warbeast.

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