Celebrated guitarist Zakk Wylde has made it official, after rumors and anonymously sourced reports that he was joining Pantera for a reunion tour: It’s all true. Except maybe for the part that he is truly “in” Pantera.
In Wylde’s view, the guitarist whose shoes he will be filling, the late “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, can’t be replaced, so he considers himself more of an auxiliary member going into the upcoming concert and festival engagements.
“Obviously, it’s not Pantera,” Wylde said over the weekend. “Pantera is those four guys — it’s Phil (Anselmo, the singer), Rex (Brown, the bassist), Dime and Vinnie (Paul Abbott, the band’s deceased drummer). But it’s just like when Zeppelin went out with Jason Bonham playing, it was phenomenal. I told Jason, I was just, like, ‘Dude, you crushed it, man.’ It’s a great thing just to hear them play that music again… I’m beyond honored to be a part of it.”
Wylde’s comments were reported by Blabbermouth, and took place in a conversation with Matt Pinfield and Jose Mangin of Danny Wimmer Presents at the Inkcarceration Music & Tattoo Festival in Mansfield, Ohio.
“When Vinnie was still alive, when the fellows were all talking about doing it, I just always told ’em, I said, ‘Of course I would… If you asked me, why would I not do it? I’m gonna honor Dime’,” continued Wylde, who was a friend of the man he’ll be subbing for. “It’s like when we do the ‘Dimebash’ [events], it’s a celebration of Dime’s greatness. It’s a Panera celebration — that’s what it is… You’re celebrating Vinnie and Dime’s greatness and you’re celebrating all the mountains that Pantera conquered and crushed.”
Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante will be taking the late Vinnie Paul Abbott’s spot on the dates. The drummer died of complications of heart disease in 2018.
An official announcement of the refreshed lineup or any future plans has yet to come from the group’s camp.
Pantera broke up in 2003. The Abbotts subsequently formed the band Damageplan, and it was at one of that group’s shows that “Dimebag” was shot and killed onstage in December 2004.
In the past, Anselmo — who has formed a new band, the Illegals, as part of his solo career — had mentioned his openness to a Pantera touring resumption with Wylde in the guitarist’s seat, although he notes that “Zakk is a busy man” with his own Black Label Society band as well as work with Ozzy Osbourne. Wylde has some experience in stepping into a role established by another famous guitarist, as his Osborne work has him doing his own take on the guitar parts of the late Randy Rhoads.
Last week, Billboard quoted an anonymous source as saying Wylde and Benante would be joining Anselmo and Brown for festival dates and individual concerts in summer 2023, and that the estates of the deceased members had signed off on the idea.