SKID ROW's SCOTTI HILL Says New PANTERA Lineup Is 'Doing A Great Job'

November 29, 2023

SKID ROW guitarist Scotti Hill has weighed in on the fact that PANTERA's surviving members Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass) have united with guitarist Zakk Wylde (OZZY OSBOURNE, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY) and drummer Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX) for a world tour under the PANTERA banner.

Anselmo and Brown, along with Wylde and Benante, are headlining a number of major festivals across South America, Asia, North America and Europe and staging some of their own headline concerts. They are also supporting METALLICA on a massive North American stadium tour in 2023 and 2024.

According to Billboard, the lineup has been given a green light by the estates of the band's founders, drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, as well as Brown, who in 2021 said Wylde wouldn't tour with PANTERA if a reunion were to happen. It's unclear what changed his mind.

Scotti discussed his views on the PANTERA comeback in an interview with Radioactive MikeZ, host of the 96.7 KCAL-FM program "Wired In The Empire". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We played Sweden Rock [Festival] a few months ago, and they were on the bill same day. So I got to go out and see a couple of songs, but I had to catch the bus out of there. Needless to say, it was great. I knew it was gonna be great before I saw it. Charlie and Zakk are just doing justice to the brothers, to Dime and Vinnie. They're doing a great job. Sounds great."

Scotti continued: "I got to sit with Phil a little bit and he's just as awesome and as funny as he's ever been. He's the greatest guy. He's a little scary to look at, but he's just a sweetheart, man. He's just a really, really good guy. And there's a lot of love there. And Rex too. I mean, we've been friends a long time. So I'm all about PANTERA — all about PANTERA. Always have been."

Asked if he had any "old stories" from when PANTERA and SKID ROW toured together in the early 1990s, Scotti said: "When we went on tour together, SKID ROW, we thought we could drink, we thought we could throw down. Nope. It was a whole new level — a new level of power and drinking. So, yeah, the party was on, and it was just fun. I used to go out every night — every night I would go out and watch their set before I went in to get changed and go do our set. I mean, listen, if you're not on your best, best, best 'A game,' and if that doesn't put you there, give it up — give it up, man, 'cause if you're going on after PANTERA, you've gotta show up. [Dime's guitar tone] was just massive, massive. And I would stand over on his side of the stage and watch him. And sometimes he would even come over and just hand me his guitar. Like they used to do 'Purple Haze', and sometimes he would hand me the guitar and I would go out and play it. Yeah, really cool. Somebody got a picture of me playing his guitar. Or I would go sit behind Vinnie's drum riser and just watch like eye level with his feet. And it would be mindblowing. I'd never seen anything like it."

Hill added: "Those guys [Dime and Vinnie], they had that Van Halen thing, the brother thing. They locked in with each other. [SKID ROW guitarist Dave] Snake [Sabo] always says something about PANTERA, that what set them apart from the other bands, and, in my opinion, made them one of the greatest is they had a groove. They were heavy, but they had grooves. Wow. So amazing."

This past January, Sabo, who manages Anselmo's DOWN project as part of the successful management company McGhee Entertainment (KISS, TED NUGENT) headed up by Doc McGhee, discussed his views on the PANTERA comeback in an interview with "Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen & Shane Mceachern". Asked if he supports Anselmo and Brown touring again under the PANTERA name, Snake said: "My gosh, a thousand percent. And it's not a reunion; it's impossible for it to be a reunion. This is like a celebration, in my viewpoint, and I think theirs as well, 'cause I've spoken with them.

"Philip and Rex and Charlie and Zakk are friends of mine, and I've known those guys forever," he continued. "I first met Zakk at the music store in Toms River when he was 18 years old, so we have a history. And I played in ANTHRAX for a short period of time, filling in. And, obviously, Philip and Rex, PANTERA toured with [SKID ROW], and I manage DOWN. So there's very close-knit friendships there.

"When they first started talking about it, they never viewed it as anything other than a celebration of the legacy of the band, a celebration of the Abbott brothers and a chance to put that in front of as many people as possible so people can get a chance to witness this music performed by some of the original members of the band in a setting that is a one-of-a-kind event, in my view. And I love it. I love it.

"Those guys are so invested in it too, and for all the right reasons," Snake added. "It came to a point where they decided, 'You know what? It's 20-some years. And this music has a life of its own. It's our music. Let's go out, put a great band together and go out and perform it and remind everybody of this legacy and how great Vinnie and Dime were and still are, because their music lives on. I think it's really special. And to me, that's the show of the year — is PANTERA."

Last December, SKID ROW bassist Rachel Bolan was asked by Ruben Mosqueda of We Go To 11 if he will see any of the shows from the reformed PANTERA. He said: "Oh, absolutely, yeah. I'll see it as many times as I can. I see a lot of naysayers, but here's the thing… First of all, Dime and Charlie were best friends. At Dime's funeral, Charlie gave a eulogy that was so incredible, it's giving me chills just thinking about it. And those guys were super tight, Zakk and Dime. And the rest of the guys were super tight. Those two people were like extended family to PANTERA, and PANTERA to them.

"I think it's really great that they're doing this and keeping the PANTERA music alive, keeping Dime and Vinnie's spirit alive," Rachel added. "It's not like they're doing it without the okay of the Abbott estate and everything like that, and Rita [Haney, Dimebag's longtime girlfriend]. So I think it's a great thing. I'm just so happy for Phil and Rex. I'm buds with all these guys, but Phil and Rex… And I've known Zakk for such a long time. I'm really happy for everyone involved, especially Phil and Rex. They're going and playing those songs… I mean, how many years has it been since they played 'em? Especially Phil and Rex together. It's gonna be frickin' amazing, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it."

In the summer of 2022, Sabo told the "Talk Toomey" podcast about the PANTERA comeback: "I will say this: in no way is it a reunion at all, obviously. This is a celebration of the legacy of a band that changed music, heavy music. And that's how I believe everybody is treating it. And for me as a fan, I can't wait to witness it, because those songs are amazing, as was the band. So to be able to go out and turn new people on to the machine that was PANTERA, the music that they created, and to celebrate the legacy of the band and to celebrate the lives of Vinnie and Dime, I think everything is right with that. And to be do it in a way — which I know they will — to do it in a way that is nothing but deeply respectful… And I think it's something, too, that gives people a reminder just how influential they were as a band and how influential both Dime and Vinnie were as musicians and songwriters.

"There's a lot to digest here, I guess," Snake acknowledged. "But really, the thing is that… It's really simple. It is a celebration of PANTERA's music and PANTERA's history with really great musicians."

The new PANTERA lineup made its live debut on December 2, 2022 at Mexico's Hell & Heaven Metal Fest.

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.

Vinnie passed away on June 22, 2018 at his other home in Las Vegas at the age of 54. He died of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease. His death was the result of chronic weakening of the heart muscle — basically meaning his heart couldn't pump blood as well as a healthy heart.

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