The history of Pantera
Posted in the Kountze Forum
#1 Jul 10, 2009
The Early Years
Pantera was formed in 1981, with its original line-up consisting of drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, his younger brother, lead guitarist Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott (then known as "Diamond Darrell"), rhythm guitarist Terry Glaze, bassist Tommy Bradford, and vocalist Donnie Hart. At its conception, the members of Pantera were in 11th grade. Kiss and Van Halen covers as well as original material in the glam metal vein in Texas nightclubs. Along with adopting the glam metal sound, the band members frequently performed in spandex and teased-up hair, a common appearance in the glam metal scene.
In 1982, Hart left the band and Glaze became the group's vocalist, leaving Darrell as the sole guitarist. Later that year Bradford also departed and was replaced by Rex Robert Brown (then known as "Rexx Rocker"). Pantera became an underground favorite, though its regional tours in this era never took them past Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. The band began supporting fellow heavy metal acts such as Stryper, Dokken, and Quiet Riot, who in turn promoted Pantera's debut, Metal Magic. Metal Magic was released on the band's record label with the same name in 1983 and produced by the Abbott brothers' father, Jerry Abbott (referred to as "The Eldn"), at Pantego Studios.
The following year, Pantera released its second album, Projects in the Jungle. Though still very much a glam metal album, the band members crafted songs that had less overbearing melodic influences than songs from Metal Magic. Another change was Terry Glaze's name, as he was henceforth credited as "Terrence Lee." In addition, a music video for the album's lead track, "All Over Tonight," was eventually created. Projects in the Jungle was also released on the independent Metal Magic Records label and produced by Jerry Abbott.
In 1985, Pantera again released a full-length album with Metal Magic Records, entitled I Am the Night. As with Projects in the Jungle, this album saw Pantera's sound becoming heavier (though still rooted in glam metal), and the heavy metal press took more notice of the band. Because of poor distribution, I Am the Night was a costly album to many fans. Around 25,000 copies of I Am the Night were sold. Pantera's second music video was produced for the track "Hot and Heavy."
#2 Jul 10, 2009
A new vocalist emerges
1986 saw the release of several landmark thrash metal albums that would prove influential to Pantera's developing musical style. Among the most prominent of these were Metallica's Master of Puppets, Slayer's Reign in Blood and Megadeth's Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?. Terrence Lee's glam approach did not fit the band's new outlook and he and the other members parted ways, beginning the search for his replacement. Terrence then went on to form rock group, Lord Tracy,a band that kept the hard hitting edge and the funner/glam feel.
The band went through temporary vocalists Matt L'Amour and David Peacock before eventually discovering New Orleans native Phil Anselmo in 1987. Anselmo had previously been the vocalist for the bands Samhain(not to be confused with Glenn Danzig's band of the same name) and Razorwhite. Upon playing with Pantera, Anselmo immediately clicked with the other three members. More than just the band's image was changing, however. In 1988, Pantera released its first album with Anselmo, entitled Power Metal. By far the band's heaviest album at this point, Power Metal was a mix of 1980s hard rock and thrash metal, sometimes blending both styles in a single song. Complementing the band's new sonic approach was Anselmo's harder-edged vocals compared to those of Terrence Lee. After the release of Power Metal, the band members decided to seriously reconsider their glam metal sound and image. Referring to the band's spandex appearance, Vinnie Paul remarked at a band meeting that "These magic clothes don't play music; We do. Let's just go out there and be comfortable—jeans, t-shirt, whatever—and see where it goes."
As with the previous three 1980s albums, Power Metal was released on Metal Magic Records. Power Metal began to reflect the characteristic sound of later Pantera, though it still contained many elements of 1980s glam metal. The band members would later ignore their independent releases, including Power Metal, as they sculpted a new, heavier image to accompany their developing "groove" sound. Their four independent albums are not listed on the band's official website and have become hard-to-find collector's items.
#3 Jul 10, 2009
Cowboys from Hell (1989–1991)
Shortly after Power Metal was released, "Diamond Darrell," as he was then known, auditioned for Megadeth's vacant guitarist slot, and was invited to join the band. Darrell insisted his brother, bandmate Vinnie Paul, be included, but because Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine had already hired a drummer, Nick Menza, Darrell declined and Mustaine instead decided on Marty Friedman. The Abbott brothers refocused their attention on Pantera and, in 1989, they were given their first shot at commercial success.
After being turned down "28 times by every major label on the face of the Earth," Atco Records representative Mark Ross was asked by his boss, Derek Shulman who was interested in signing them, to see the band perform after Hurricane Hugo stranded him in Texas. Ross was so impressed by the band's performance that he called his boss that night , suggesting that Pantera be signed to the label. Atco Records accepted, and at the close of 1989, the band recorded its major label debut at Pantego Studios.
Released on July 24, 1990, Cowboys from Hell was another leap into heavier territory. Pantera showed a more extreme style on this outing, leaving behind its glam metal influences in favor of an amalgamation of thrash metal and groove metal dubbed "power groove" by the band. Although Anselmo still used Rob Halford-influenced falsetto vocals, he also adopted a more abrasive delivery. Darrell's more complex guitar solos and riffs, along with his brother's faster-paced drumwork were evidence of the band's extreme transformation. The album marked a critical juncture in the band's history. Most fans, as well with the band itself, consider it Pantera's "official" debut. Cowboys included the popular tracks "Cemetery Gates," a brooding seven-minute piece that focuses on death and religion, and the thrashing title track, which gave the band members their nickname and asserted their raucous personality and style.
So began the Cowboys from Hell tour alongside thrash act Exodus and hardcore punk band Suicidal Tendencies. In 1991, Rob Halford performed with the band onstage, which led Pantera to open for Judas Priest on its first show in Europe. The band eventually landed a billing for "Monsters in Moscow" with AC/DC and Metallica, where they played to a crowd of over 500,000 in celebration of the new freedom of performing Western music in the former Soviet Union shortly after its collapse in 1991. The band's 2006 home video compilation, 3 Vulgar Videos from Hell, features performances of "Primal Concrete Sledge," "Cowboys from Hell," "Domination" and "Psycho Holiday" from the show in Moscow.
#4 Jul 10, 2009
Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Drive (1992–1994)
Pantera's unique "groove" style came to fruition in its breakthrough album Vulgar Display of Power, released on February 25, 1992, which saw the replacement of the power metal falsetto vocals with a hardcore-influenced shouted delivery and heavier guitar sound. While some critics point to the rise of grunge music as the subsequent downfall of glam metal, others cite Pantera, most notably on Vulgar Display, as being the catalyst that overpowered popular 1980s metal. Among critics and fans, it is frequently cited as the band's best effort. Songs like "Fucking Hostile", a fast, aggressive challenge to authority, the riff-driven "Walk", and "Mouth for War", remain some of the most popular songs in Pantera's catalog. Two other singles from the album became two of Pantera's best-known ballads: "This Love", a haunting piece about lust and abuse, and "Hollow", somewhat reminiscent of "Cemetery Gates" from Cowboys. "Hollow" was recognizable for its popularity at live performances. The band would play the song "Domination" (from Cowboys) leading into the ending of "Hollow" (what is roughly the last 2:30 of the album version), forming a medley referred to as "Dom/Hollow," as can be heard on the band's 1997 live album. Singles from Vulgar also received significant airplay on radio and their music videos on MTV. The album entered the American charts at #44. Pantera hit the road again, visiting Japan for the first time in July 1992 and later performing at the "Monsters of Rock" festival co-headlined by Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath in Italy. It was around this time that Darrell Abbott dropped the nickname "Diamond Darrell" and assumed "Dimebag Darrell", and Rex Brown dropped the pseudonym "Rexx Rocker."
The extent to which Vulgar Display of Power grew in popularity can be assessed by the instant success of its follow-up, Far Beyond Driven (released on March 15, 1994), which debuted at #1 in both U.S. and Australian album charts. The album's first single, "I'm Broken", earned the band's first Grammy nomination for "Best Metal Performance" in 1995. Driven saw Pantera continue its groove metal approach, while taking an even more extreme direction with its musical style. The albums original artwork (a drill bit impaling an anus) was banned so it was re-released with the now legendary skull impaled with a drill bit. A limited edition was released with a slip over case. Also, a boxed set called 'Driven Downunder Tour '94 Souvenir Collection' was released in Australia / New Zealand to coincide with the tours there. It featured Far Beyond Driven (with its original banned artwork) with a bonus 13th track,'The Badge (Poison Idea Cover)', aLIVE and hostile e.p.(a 5 track live ep),and Walk (Ep)(Japanese Collector's Edition) all presented in a special cardboard box with an 8 page colour biography. Just like the other rare editions of Far Beyond Driven, this box set is very rare and is highly sought after.
Pantera hit the road again and toured South America, along with being accepted into another "Monsters of Rock" billing. At that festival on June 4, 1994, the Abbott brothers got into a scuffle with journalists from the music magazine Kerrang! over unflattering cartoon depictions of drummer Vinnie Paul. Then in late June, Anselmo was charged with assault for hitting a security guard after he prevented fans from getting on stage, Anselmo was released on $5,000 bail the next day. The trial was delayed three times. In May 1995, he apologized in court and pleaded guilty to attempted assault and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service. Pantera continued their tour of the United Kingdom in 1994 and eventually ended it in the United States where the band was opened for by fellow groove metal band Prong.
#5 Jul 10, 2009
Band tension and The Great Southern Trendkill (1994–1996)
According to the Abbott brothers, frontman Phil Anselmo began behaving strangely and distanced himself from the band when they returned to the road in 1995. The rest of the band members first thought that Pantera's fame had gotten to Anselmo, but Anselmo cited back pain from years of intense performances as the reason for his erratic behavior. Anselmo attempted to subdue his pain through alcohol, but this, as he admits, was affecting his performances and "putting some worry into the band." Doctors predicted that with surgery, Anselmo's back problem could be corrected, but that the recovery time could be a year or more. Not wanting to spend that much time away from the band, Anselmo refused, and began using heroin as a painkiller.
Anselmo's on-stage remarks became notorious during this time. After stating at a Montreal concert that "rap music advocates the killing of white people," Anselmo denied accusations of racism, and later issued an apology, stating that he was drunk and that his remarks were a mistake.
In 1995, Down, one of Anselmo's many side projects, took off. Down was a supergroup consisting of Anselmo, three members of Crowbar—guitarist Kirk Windstein, bassist Todd Strange and drummer Jimmy Bower (also of Eyehategod)—and Corrosion of Conformity guitarist Pepper Keenan. Down's 1995 debut, NOLA, was a success, but shortly after the group members returned to their respective bands, leaving Down inactive for several years.
Pantera's next album, The Great Southern Trendkill (released on May 22, 1996), came out during grunge rock's dominance and at the onset of rap metal. It is often considered Pantera's "overlooked" album. Phil Anselmo recorded the vocals for this release in Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor's studio in New Orleans while the rest of the band members recorded in Dallas, evidence of the continued distancing between Anselmo and the rest of the band. In comparison to the band's previous efforts, there was a heavier emphasis on vocal overdubbing in a somewhat "demonic" fashion. Drug abuse is a popular theme in Trendkill, as exemplified by tracks such as "Suicide Note Pt. I," "Suicide Note Pt. II" and "Living Through Me (Hell's Wrath)." Perhaps the most popular song from Trendkill is "Drag the Waters". "Drag the Waters" became the album's only music video, and likewise, the only track from the album to appear on the band's compilation album. Another Trendkill single, "Floods", achieved acclaim largely because of Darrell's complex guitar solo in the song, which ranked #15 on Guitar World magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Solos" of all-time.
#6 Jul 10, 2009
Overdose, Official Live: 101 Proof, and side projects (1996–2000)
On July 13, 1996, Anselmo overdosed on heroin an hour after a Texas homecoming gig. After his heart stopped beating for almost five minutes, paramedics gave Anselmo a shot of adrenaline and sent him to the hospital. After waking up in the hospital, the nurse working in his room said "Welcome back to life, you overdosed on heroin." Anselmo apologized to his bandmates the next night, and said he would quit using drugs. The revelation of heroin use came as a shock to Vinnie and Darrell who were embarrassed by Anselmo's actions, according to Rita Haney, the guitarist's girlfriend. Anselmo says he would relapse two more times and guilt overcame him.
Some of the band's live performances were eventually compiled in its July 29, 1997 release, Official Live: 101 Proof, which included fourteen live tracks and two new studio recordings: "Where You Come From" and "I Can't Hide". Two weeks before the live album's release, Pantera received its first platinum album, for Cowboys from Hell. Just four months later, both Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven went platinum as well. The band also received their second and third "Best Metal Performance" Grammy Nominations for Trendkill's "Suicide Note (Pt. I)" and Cowboys's "Cemetery Gates" in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
Also in 1997, Pantera played on the mainstage of Ozzfest alongside Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative, Fear Factory, Machine Head, and Powerman 5000. Additionally, the band played on the 1998 UK Ozzfest tour alongside Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Foo Fighters, Slayer, Soulfly, Fear Factory, and Therapy?.
Around this time, Anselmo ventured into more side projects, such as playing guitars on Necrophagia's 1999 release Holocausto de la Morte, where he went as the alias "Anton Crowley", which combines the names of Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey and famous occultist Aleister Crowley. He also temporarily joined the black metal supergroup Eibon and contributed to that band's 2000 release. Another one of Anselmo's "Anton Crowley" projects was black metal band Viking Crown. The Abbott brothers and Rex Brown began their own heavy metal/country music crossover project, Rebel Meets Rebel with David Allen Coe, around the same time.
Fans of the NHL's Dallas Stars were treated to a raucous fight song penned by Pantera and dedicated to their favorite hockey team during the Stars 1999 Stanley Cup Championship run. Throughout the season members of the team befriended members of Pantera. During a Stanley Cup party hosted by drummer Vinnie Paul, the Stanley Cup was damaged when Guy Carbonneau attempted to throw the Cup from the roof of Vinnie Paul's house into his pool. The Cup landed short on the concrete deck and had to be repaired by NHL commissioned silversmiths.
#7 Jul 10, 2009
Reinventing the Steel and break-up (2000–2003)
Reinventing the Steel, which was released on March 14. Steel debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 and included "Revolution Is My Name" and "Goddamn Electric", the latter of which featured a Kerry King outro solo recorded (backstage in one take) during Ozzfest in Dallas. "Revolution Is My Name" became the band's fourth nomination for Best Metal Performance in the 2001 Grammys.
In 2000, Pantera played on the mainstage of Ozzfest alongside Ozzy Osbourne, Godsmack, Static-X, Methods of Mayhem, Incubus, P.O.D., Black Label Society, Queens of the Stone Age, and Apartment 26. In November the band cancelled their planned tour before Anselmo broke his ribs after falling during Anselmo's eighth annual House of Shock.
The band once again returned to touring and visited the United States, Canada, South Korea, Australia, and Europe. The tour in Europe was cut short, however, by the September 11, 2001 attacks. This would be the last time the members of Pantera performed together. Back home, the band planned to release its fourth home video in Summer 2002 and record another studio album later that year, but neither came about.
Anselmo again engaged in numerous side projects. In March 2002, Down released its second studio album, Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow, which featured Rex Brown on bass following Todd Strange's departure in 1999. Brown remains Down's full-time bassist, having appeared on their subsequent release in 2007. Also, in May of that year Anselmo's Superjoint Ritual released its debut, Use Once and Destroy. Vinnie Paul claims that Anselmo told him he would take a year off following the events of September 11, 2001, but Anselmo's touring and record output for both Superjoint Ritual and Down contradicted this. The Abbott brothers were frustrated, and held out for a time, assuming Anselmo would return. However, according to Anselmo, taking a break from Pantera was a "mutual thing" between each of the band members.
The band officially broke up in 2003, also the year when their "Best of:" compilation album was released (on September 23), when the Abbott brothers concluded that Anselmo had abandoned Pantera and would not return. Both Anselmo and Brown were supposed to have met Dime and Vinnie in New York, and never showed up. This is when the Abbott brothers realized the band was truly over. The break-up of the band was not amicable and subsequently a war between the former bandmates was waged via the heavy metal and musical press. The Abbott brothers and Pantera crew members claimed that they tried numerous times to contact Anselmo over the phone to reorganize Pantera, but Anselmo maintains that they never called him. Caught up in the torrent was Rex Brown, who later said "It was a bunch of he said, she said nonsense that was going on, and I wasn't going to get in the middle of it." Anselmo's comment in a 2004 issue of Metal Hammer magazine saying that "Dimebag deserves to be beaten severely" typified Pantera's internal conflicts; Anselmo insists that this comment was tongue-in-cheek. This explanation was soon dismissed by Vinnie Paul, who said shortly after the 2004 murder of his brother that he had personally listened to the audio files of the interview and that Anselmo had not been misquoted or misrepresented, but said the exact words which appeared in the article.
In July 2004, Vulgar Display of Power went double-platinum, and The Great Southern Trendkill went platinum the next month.
#8 Jul 10, 2009
Damageplan, Darrell's murder and aftermath (2004–present)
After disbanding Pantera, Darrell and Vinnie formed a new band, Damageplan, with vocalist Pat Lachman and bassist "Bob Zilla." The group released their first album, New Found Power, in February of 2004. The album was a commercial success; over 44,000 copies were sold in its first week alone and within a year over 100,000 copies were sold. However, some fans felt that Damageplan's material did not measure up to that of Pantera.
Tragedy struck while the band was performing in support of the album at a December 8, 2004 show at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, when disgruntled former Marine Nathan Gale, 25, jumped onstage and shot and killed Darrell, 38, as the band began 30-40 seconds on their first song. Before he was killed by police officer James Niggemeyer, Gale also killed fan Nathan Bray, 23, club employee Erin Halk, 29, and Pantera security official Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, 40, and injured longtime Pantera and Damageplan drum technician John "Kat" Brooks and Damageplan tour manager Chris Paluska.
When Anselmo called in the aftermath of the murders, Rita Haney, Darrell's girlfriend, answered one of Anselmo's calls and said she would "blow [Anselmo's] head off" if he attended Darrell's funeral. Public comments made by Phil Anselmo following the shooting suggested that he had considered reuniting with the band prior to Darrell's death. However, one year after the murder Vinnie stated in an interview that this reunion was never going to happen.
On May 11, 2006, the VH1 Behind the Music episode on Pantera premiered. While focusing heavily on Darrell's murder, the episode also detailed the band's glam metal beginnings, its rise in popularity after the change in musical direction, and the conflicts between Anselmo and the Abbott brothers in the band's later years that would tear them apart.
When asked by Crave Music in 2006 if there was any chance of reconciling with Phil Anselmo, Vinnie Paul answered "Absolutely not. That's it." The former Pantera drummer has since begun work on Hellyeah, a collaboration between him and members from Mudvayne and Nothingface. Both Anselmo and Brown have reunited with Down, and supported Heaven and Hell and Megadeth on their 2007 Canadian tour, as well as supporting Metallica on the first half of their World Magnetic Tour.
#9 Jul 10, 2009
Legacy and influences
Pantera has toured with Ozzfest as main stage acts twice; the band played at the second annual Ozzfest in 1997 and the fifth Ozzfest in 2000. Over the course of their career, Pantera's members became known for their excessive partying and debauchery, even acquiring an official drink called the "Black Tooth Grin". The "Black Tooth Grin" ("Black Tooth," "The Grin," or "BTG," alternatively), named after lyrics from Megadeth's "Sweating Bullets", is a mixture of Crown Royal or Seagram 7 whisky (or both) and Coca-Cola.
Pantera also adopted a self-described "take no shit" attitude, epitomized in its popular song "5 Minutes Alone" from the album Far Beyond Driven. According to Vinnie Paul, the song originated when, during a show in San Diego, California, Anselmo was annoyed by a heckler and encouraged the crowd to "jump [his] ass and beat the shit out of him on the spot." Consequently, the band was sued; the man's father took action and called Pantera's manager, saying, "You just give me five minutes alone with that Phil Anselmo guy and I'll show him who's big daddy around here," to which Anselmo responded, "You just give me five minutes alone with that cat's dad and I'll whoop his ass."
The band members take pride in what they perceive to be an uncompromising career in which they never "sold out" or gave into trends. This is most noticeably highlighted in the themes and title of The Great Southern Trendkill. On Pantera's official website, Anselmo puts it in his own words:
We've survived every fucking trend—heavy metal, "grunge metal", funk metal, rap metal—and we're still here. We put everyone on notice that we don't fuck around. Our fans know we're true right down to the fucking core.
Similarly, the die-hard attitude of "We'll Grind That Axe For a Long Time" (from Reinventing the Steel) is, according to Anselmo, "in a way, our motto."
Aside from their thrash metal influences, the band members cite heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath as one of their favorite bands. As a tribute, Pantera has recorded three different covers of Black Sabbath songs (all from the Ozzy Osbourne era). The first was "Planet Caravan", a slower, quieter song planned for the first Sabbath tribute album, Nativity in Black, that eventually became the final track on Far Beyond Driven. The band performed Sabbath's "Electric Funeral" on the second Nativity in Black. A previously unreleased cover of Sabbath's "Hole in the Sky" was included on the band's 2003 compilation album, The Best of Pantera: Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboys' Vulgar Hits!. Pantera's affinity for Black Sabbath is also shown through the lyrics, "Your trust is in whiskey and weed and Black Sabbath," in "Goddamn Electric". The same song also mentions Slayer, one of the band's thrash metal influences.
#10 Jul 10, 2009
Pantera Band members
Phil Anselmo – lead vocals, occasionally live rhythm guitar (1987–2003)
Dimebag Darrell – lead guitar, backing vocals, occasionally live lead vocals/bass (1981–2003)
Rex Brown – bass, backing vocals, occasionally live lead guitar (1982–2003)
Vinnie Paul – drums, percussion (1981–2003)
Donny Hart – lead vocals (1981–1982)
Tommy Bradford – bass (1981–1982)
Terry Glaze – rhythm guitar (1981–1982), lead vocals (1982–1986)
Matt L'Amour – lead vocals (1986)
David Peacock – lead vocals (1986–1987
#12 Feb 17, 2010
Thanks, that was a great timeline for Pantera, R.I.P. DB Darrel.
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