Pantera has its root in the town of Arlington Texas. Brothers Vinnie Paul Abbott (drummer) and Darrell Lance Abbott (guitarist, and also known as “Dimebag Darrell”) started playing with rhythm guitarist Terry Glaze, bassist Tommy Bradford and vocalist Donnie Hart, in 1981. Still in high school when they started, the guys performed at local Texas clubs playing a mix of cover songs as well as originals. After Donnie Hart left the band in 1982, Terry Glaze put down his guitar and started singing. Soon afterwards Tommy Bradford also left and was replaced by bassist Rex Robert Brown. The new version of the band started playing throughout Louisiana, Oklahoma, and their home state of Texas, and by 1983 had recorded their first album “Metal Magic.” The record was produced by the Abbott brothers’ father and was released by their record label, also called Metal Magic.
The guys quickly followed up their first album with their second release “Projects in the Jungle.” In 1985 they released the album “I Am The Night,” which sold an impressive 25,000 copies. As is to be expected coming of age in the 1980’s, the guys were fans of Glam Rock. Because of this fact, their first albums were more along the lines of Glam Rock than the heavy sound that fans usually associate with Pantera. In 1986 Terry Glaze left the band and their sound started to change. Phil Anselmo replaced Glaze in 1987 and the band’s sound became much heavier. They released “Power Metal,” in 1988 and the band altered their look, wearing jeans and t-shirts on stage, rather than their stereotypical Glam Rock attire. Since Pantera had yet to take off, Dimebag Darrell auditioned for an empty spot in the band Megadeth. He was actually chosen, but being the good brother that he was, passed up the opportunity because there wasn’t room in the band for his brother VInnie. Fortunately Pantera was singed to Atco Records in 1989.
With the release of “Cowboys From Hell,” on July 24th, 1990, the Pantera that most fans associate with sprung to life. The album included the song “Cemetery Gates,” and was eventually certified Platinum in the US. The band promoted the release with the “Cowboys From Hell Tour” with Suicidal Tendencies, which lead to the band opening for Judas Priest in Europe. Soon afterwards Pantera scored a spot performing at the Monsters in Moscow concert in Russia with bands like AC/DC and Metallica. On February 25th, 1992, Pantera released what was their biggest album, “Vulgar Display of Power.” The record produced the hits “This Love,” “Mouth of War,” “Hollow,” and arguably their biggest song, “Walk.” Peaking at #44 on the charts, “Vulgar…” sold more than 2 million copies in the US alone, and exposed the band to both radio listeners and MTV viewers.
“Far Beyond Driven” burst on to the scene March 15th 1994. The album debuted at #1 and included the song “I’m Broken,” which earned the band its first Grammy Nomination for “Best Metal Performance,” in 1995. They toured through South America, but in June, Anselmo was arrested for assault after attacking a concert security guard who was trying to keep fans off the stage. Alselmo ended up with a Community Service sentence and the band continued on. Unfortunately Anselmo started to develop back problems and instead of getting the surgery that was recommend by doctors, unbeknownst to the Abbott brothers, he started self-medicating with heroin. The band kept working hard and released “The Great Southern Trendkill,” on May 22nd, 1996. The album included the songs “Drag the Waters,” which became a music video, “Floods,” and “Suicide Note, Pt. 1,” which received a Grammy Nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1997. By this time however, Anselmo’s drug use was getting way out of hand and on July 13th, 1996 he suffered a near fatal overdose.
Anselmo survived, and the band released “Reinventing the Steel” on March 14th, 2000. The album was another success and included the song “Revolution is My Name,” which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance, the next year. The band performed at Ozzfest in 2000 and set off on a world tour in 2001. The tour, like many aspects of life, was disrupted by the September 11th attacks on New York City, and never completed. Shortly after, Anselmo started focusing on side projects and never returned. The band officially broke up on September 23rd, 2003, which prompted a verbal battle between the Abbott brothers and Anselmo. Unfortunately why the band broke up seems to make little difference in retrospect. The Abbott brothers moved on to form the band Damageplan in 2004. That December while performing in Columbus, Ohio, Darrell was shot and killed on stage by a concert attendee. This obviously put an end to the idea that Pantera could ever resolve their difference and reunite. Although Darrell’s life was cut short, he will live on forever in the hearts, minds, and music libraries of fans the world over.