ZAKK WYLDE Says PANTERA Tour Is 'A Beautiful Thing': 'It Brings Joy To So Many People'

June 13, 2023

Zakk Wylde says that the current PANTERA tour is the ultimate tribute to the band's late co-founders, guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott.

Wylde and ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante, along with PANTERA's surviving members, singer Philip Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown, are on the road as PANTERA, headlining a number of major festivals across North America and Europe and staging some of their own headline concerts. They will also support METALLICA on a massive stadium tour in 2023 and 2024.

"To me, it's just a beautiful thing," Wylde told Guitar World magazine. "Whenever we do the Experience Hendrix thing, we pay tribute to the amazing music and playing of Jimi Hendrix. And when I'm playing 'Mr. Crowley' or 'Crazy Train' with Ozzy [Osbourne], we're celebrating the greatness of Randy [Rhoads]. It's not controversial or tragic. It's about this awesome thing PANTERA created — and this community of people who still enjoy it.

"We're up there celebrating Dime and Vinnie," he added. "That's what this is about, and it brings joy to so many people. For us, it's really special because we're commemorating our buddies — the guys in PANTERA who we loved — and everything they did for music."

Asked if he already knew how to play all the songs before he started rehearsing with the rest of the current PANTERA lineup, he said: "It's so funny that people think I'd already played all these songs. On the first ANTHRAX/BLACK LABEL run we did, [bassist] Frankie Bello was like, 'Zakk, you know all the parts, right?' I go, 'No, I don't know any of the parts. Why would I?' It's like if Dime agreed to fill in for me doing a run with Ozzy and I asked him, 'Hey, can you come up right now and play the solo to 'No More Tears', 'Miracle Man' or 'Stillborn'?' He'd be like, 'Well, I've heard the songs, but that doesn't mean I know how to play 'em. First I gotta learn 'em!' You have to practice, and you have to work on it to get everything right."

Pressed about whether it was easy to learn Dime's parts, Zakk said: "Some of them. But I had to go to YouTube for a batch of stuff if I couldn't figure it out. That was definitely a massive help. And then there were still about two or three things where Rex went, 'Nah, you're slightly off. Do this' — whatever it was. And I'm like, 'Oh, okay. I got it now.'"

According to Billboard, the current PANTERA lineup has been given a green light by the estates of Vinnie Paul and Dimebag.

This past March, PANTERA headlined the 2023 "comeback" edition of Japan's Loud Park festival. The two-day "limited" event took place on March 25 at Intex Osaka in Osaka and March 26 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City near Tokyo.

In December, PANTERA played seven shows in Mexico and South America.

Brown was forced to leave PANTERA's Latin American tour after testing positive for COVID-19. Filling in for him at some of the shows was CATTLE DECAPITATION bassist Derek Engemann, who also plays with Anselmo in both PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS and SCOUR.

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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