Rumor: PANTERA's 2023 Lineup To Include CHARLIE BENANTE And ZAKK WYLDE
July 14, 2022
ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante and OZZY OSBOURNE guitarist Zakk Wylde are rumored to be the musicians who will join PANTERA's surviving members on a reunion tour in 2023.
Although it was announced by Billboard on Wednesday (July 13) that singer Philip Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown have signed with Artist Group International to book their North American dates, there has been no official word about who will fill out the rest of PANTERA's touring lineup.
Benante and Wylde have both voiced their appreciation for PANTERA's musical legacy on a number of occasions in recent years. Back in June 2018, just one day after the death of Vinnie Paul Abbott, Benante told SiriusXM about the first time he met the PANTERA drummer: "The very first time, it was the first time we ever were in Texas. And those guys [PANTERA] were there. We played at this club, and I believe PANTERA were the opening band. A mutual friend of ours, who everybody knows now — Rita [Haney, longtime girlfriend of PANTERA guitarist 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott] — she kind of was the conduit to grouping us together to become friendly. We've known those guys since 1985, and just the two of them, Darrell and Vinnie, after you met those two, it was like you had a friend in Texas, both of them, and they just made the experience so much better, and you immediately bonded. So throughout the years, we just remained friends."
Benante went on to draw a parallel between PANTERA and another legendary rock band which featured siblings who achieved notability together.
"I always equated Dime and Vinnie as, like, Alex and Eddie from VAN HALEN; I always thought PANTERA was like VAN HALEN reborn," he said. "They had a guitar player, who was a hero. The drummers were fucking awesome, but the thing about Vinnie that, I think, not a lot of people know — maybe they do — but from a technical side of things, Vinnie made those PANTERA records sound like that. He was the guy behind it all who was turning the knobs, EQing shit so that his kick drum wasn't fighting with Darrell's fucking chunky guitar. He was a lot of the brains and the glue that held that band together and, basically, pushed that band."
In 2019, Anselmo, who has spent the past few years playing a PANTERA-centric set with his solo band, THE ILLEGALS, told Chile's Humo Negro that he would consider getting together with Wylde and Brown and performing PANTERA's classic songs in concert. "Well, Zakk is a busy man," he said. "He does his own band, he does stuff with Ozzy and all that stuff. We spoke about it maybe one time. And I think everybody — everybody — is… I guess they're like me. Keep an open mind about it. We'll see. But I know from all the hard work with [Anselmo's] THE ILLEGALS [project] here to make those songs right, all of us, we would have to take time off and really practice together and get everything perfect. So it's a lot of work. And I'm doing a lot of bands, man, right now. [But] if everything was lined up, I would do it — sure. Fuck yeah! Why not?"
Zakk was also open to the idea, telling "The Cassius Morris Show" in October 2019: "When Saint Vinnie was still around, they were talking about it then. I mean, the way I always looked at it is it's a PANTERA celebration and an honor. I mean, every night I'm playing with Ozz, we honor Saint Rhoads [late Ozzy guitarist Randy Rhoads]. I'm playing the Randy stuff every night, and I'm blessed and it's an honor to do it. Basically, we're paying tribute to Randy every night — keeping his music alive.
"If we got together and we ended up doing it, it would be like… I just look at it like if Eric Clapton went out and was with Mitch [Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix's drummer] and Noel [Redding, Hendrix's bass player] and singing and playing Jimi's songs, and he's honoring Jimi, 'cause that was his buddy.
"No one's replacing anybody. No one's replacing Randy Rhoads — he was a one-off. Just like no one's replacing Jimi Hendrix and no one's replacing Dime — or Vinnie.
"If [LED] ZEPPELIN was going out, and if Jason's [Bonham] playing drums, no one's replacing his father. What they're doing is celebrating his father's greatness and what he achieved and all the mountains he conquered with ZEPPELIN. It's more of a tribute and a celebration than it is... You can't replace any of these people I'm talking about — they're all legendary guys. But, yeah, you're just celebrating all their achievements — that's all."
In April 2021, Rex told Eonmusic that he and Philip still get offers for a PANTERA tribute tour. "But if you don't have the other guys in the band, it's not going to sound the same," he said. "If we were ever to do something like that, it would have to be spot-on, or I wouldn't do it. It would be a tribute."
When Eonmusic interviewer Eamon O'Neill added that he wasn't about to ask the usual question about a reunion with Zakk Wylde taking the place of Dimebag, Rex offered: "It's going to come up, and it wouldn't be Zakk Wylde, I guarantee you that. I've just put it out there so we can get on past it."
In February 2020, Haney said she would "definitely" be in favor of Anselmo, Brown and Wylde teaming up for a PANTERA tribute tour. A few days later, Brown weighed in on her comments, writing on Twitter: "I wanna make sure that ppl understand what I'm about to tweet.. It's not up to Rita to say what will happen, only what Philip & I say...I'm in!! Dig?!?!?"
Rita discussed the possibility of the former PANTERA members and the OZZY OSBOURNE guitarist paying tribute to Dimebag and his brother Vinnie Paul Abbott while speaking to "The Blairing Out With Eric Blair Show" on the red carpet of the Ronnie James Dio 10th Memorial Awards Gala at the Avalon in Los Angeles. She said: "I don't think there could be a PANTERA reunion, but I think that his two remaining brothers, Rex and Philip, if they wanted to honor Darrell and Vinnie, as far as where I'm coming from and what I believe Darrell would believe — because he was the most forgiving person that I know — I believe that he would be honored. It's kind of a cliché to say, but he truly would be grateful that he meant that much to them. And I think if they wanna honor their fallen brothers with a tribute, I think that that's great. But as far as trying to say put PANTERA back together, PANTERA tribute, this and that, no — that's distasteful without those other guys. But I think as a tribute, it would be a really great thing. Because I know, from a fan's point, if I hadn't been able to see them play or hear those songs — the songs, they mean so much to me; I can imagine [they do to] other people as well. I think it's great that they can at least see it performed, and by people that truly love 'em. So, yeah, I think it would be a really cool thing."
When asked to clarify if she would "be okay with a tour," she responded: "I definitely would. I'd wanna be at every show. [Laughs]"
Talk about a possible PANTERA "reunion" intensified when Anselmo regularly joined Wylde's BLACK LABEL SOCIETY to perform PANTERA's song "I'm Broken" during DOWN's 2014 stint on the "Revolver Golden Gods Tour". That buzz only got stronger after Brown joined the jam on May 23, 2014 when the tour swung through Texas.
Up until his passing, Vinnie remained on non-speaking terms with Anselmo, whom the drummer indirectly blamed for Dimebag's death.
Vinnie Paul and Dimebag co-founded PANTERA. When PANTERA broke up in 2003, they formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a troubled schizophrenic who believed that the members of PANTERA were stealing his thoughts.
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