Beginning as a glam metal band in 1981 by brothers, Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell Abbot, started the band Pantera, originally Pantera’s Metal Magic, consisted of Terry Glaze on rhythm guitar, Donnie Hart on vocals and Tommy Bradford on bass. By 1982 Hart had left the band and Glaze took over on vocals. He felt there was no need for him to sing and play the guitar because Darrell was so good it rendered Hart’s guitar playing useless. Bradford left the band that same year and was replaced with Rex Rocker Brown.
The band soon shortened their name and developed a following outside of their hometown of Arlington, Texas. The underground movement carried them to gigs throughout Texas and into Oklahoma and Louisiana. In 1983, they released their first album, Metal Magic, which was produced by their father, Jerry Abbott.
Their second album, Projects in the Jungle, came in 1984 and was again produced by Jerry Abbott, along with a music video for the album’s lead track, “All Over Tonight”. The group’s sound was changing from the more melodic glam metal into something heavier.
Showcasing their musical evolution, Pantera released their third album, I Am the Night, in 1985. This album was notably heavier in sound and the press was taking note. Despite the expense of producing and distributing the album, the band was able to make their second music video to the song “Hot and Heavy”.
By 1987, thrash metal was on the rise and Terrence Lee was replaced by Phil Anselmo. Power Metal was released in 1988 and was a unique blend and 80’s rock and the harder sounds of thrash metal. Their sound was coming into its own and their look quickly followed suit. They traded in their spandex and emerged as the relaxed jeans and t-shirt band that fans now know.
In 1989 the group hired manager Walter O’Brien, who would hold the position through the remainder of the groups’ existence, and signed with Atco Records where they would see the production of their first major album,Cowboys from Hell, which was released in 1990.
The release of their next two albums, Vulgar Display of Power (1992) and Far Beyond Driven (1994) drove the band to stardom with their singles seeing significant airplay, both on the radio and on MTV. Far Beyond Driven debuted in the number 1 spot. In 1995, the single “I’m Broken” won the band their first Grammy nomination.
With fame often comes trouble and Pantera saw their fair share. In 1994, while on their second “Monsters of Rock” tour, the Abbott brothers got into it with the press when a rude cartoon of Vinnie Paul was printed in a music magazine. A short time later Anselmo was charged with assault against a security guard when he prevented fans from joining the band on stage. It was around this time that Anselmo reportedly began distancing himself from the other members of the band and displayed erratic behavior. Anselmo claims that his behavior and withdraw from socializing with the group was a result of back pain stemming from years of physically demanding stage shows. Anselmo refused medical assistance, believing that the time away from the band for surgery and recovery would be too long. He then turned to heroin in an effort to treat the pain.
In 1996, Pantera released The Great Southern Trendkill. Further illustrating the strain between Anselmo and the rest of the group, the band recorded the album in their studio in Dallas while Anselmo recorded the vocals from New Orleans. Two months later Anselmo overdosed on heroin. His heart had been stopped for five minutes before paramedics were able to restart it and get him to the hospital. The band claims they did not know the extent of the heroin use, however, many speculate there is more than coincidence between the heavy drug theme in The Great Southern Trendkill and Anselmo’s overdose.
The remainder of the 90’s saw more world tours and recognition for Pantera. They released an album of live performances and saw Cowboys from Hell, Far Beyond Driven, and Vulgar Display of Power all go platinum. Not to mention two more Grammy nominations and a Readers’ Choice Award. It was during this time that Anselmo pursued numerous side projects causing the rift between the band members to grow more and more evident.
Debuting at the number four spot, 2000 saw the final Pantera album titled, Reinventing the Steel earning the group their fourth Grammy nomination. Despite plans to release their fourth home video and another album in the works, Anselmo again distanced himself from the band in order to focus on side projects, claiming that the band had mutually agreed to take a year off. The Abbott brothers denied this claim and the band officially broke up in 2003.
In 2004, while performing with his new band, Damageplan, Dimebag was gunned down by Nathan Gale. There are no official motives as to why Gale would have killed Dimebag, however, people who knew Gale have said he believed Pantera stole songs that were written by him. Anselmo was asked not to attend the funeral giving proof to the rumors that there was animosity between the ex-band mates. While murmurs of a possible reunion surface from time to time, Vinnie insists it will never happen, leaving fans to make do with memories.