During a brand new interview with HardDrive Radio, Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE) was once again asked about the possibility of a hypothetical PANTERA reunion with him filling in for the late “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott on guitar.
“I’m truly honored that the fellows would want me to honor Dime,“ he said.
“People, when they talk about it being a PANTERA ‘reunion,’ [it would be a] reunion in sorts of that Vinnie [Paul Abbott, PANTERA drummer] and Phil [Anselmo, PANTERA singer] and Rex [Brown, PANTERA bassist] are all buds and hanging out and everything’s good… in the ‘reunion’ regard. But, I mean, obviously, Dime… there’s only one guy that can do [what he does], and that’s Dime.”
He continued: “To me, I’d look at it as it’s a PANTERA ‘celebration,’ is what it is, and all the mountains they conquered and all the greatness they achieved. And it would be me, if I’m playing guitar, honoring Dime‘s greatness, ’cause I love him. To me, that’s what it is.
“To me, the way I look at it is, if Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding asked Eric Clapton if he would play and sing Jimi‘s stuff, and Eric and Jimi were buddies, so, of course, Eric would do it. You know what I mean? ‘Cause what you’re doing is celebrating Jimi‘s life and Jimi‘s greatness. To me, it’s a PANTERA celebration and Saint Dime celebration of his awesomeness. I mean, that’s the way I always look at it. I mean, I do it every night when I’m… When I was touring with the Boss [Ozzy Osbourne], we celebrate Saint Rhoads every night. You know what I mean? We celebrate Randy‘s greatness and what he created. So that’s the way I look at it.”
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 (see video below).
Vinnie Paul has consistently shot down any talk of a hypothetical PANTERA reunion, telling Brazil’s Wikimetal back in 2014: “The bottom line is they call it a reunion, and that means to bring the original members back, and we can’t bring Dime back, and he was such a huge part of PANTERA. I don’t wanna damage or tarnish the legacy of him or the band. We had 14 amazing years together and it’s time for everybody to move on. And I have definitely moved on in my life. I don’t live in the past. I like to live for today and what’s coming up tomorrow, and I love what we’re doing with HELLYEAH. And that’s my focus and that’s my goal, man.”
Vinnie Paul later weighed in even less enthusiastically on the subject, telling Revolver magazine: “If you had an ex-wife, and it was a pretty bitter split, you might not ever want to talk to her again. Who cares if everybody in the family and your friends want you to say hello again? It’s your choice whether you want to do it or not. And I think a lot of people are selfish. They say, ‘Oh, he oughta just kiss and make up with Phil and everything will be cool. And then they can go get Zakk Wylde and everything’s gonna be great.’ No, everything’s not gonna be great.”
Dimebag’s longtime girlfriend Rita Haney in 2011 called on Vinnie and Anselmo to settle their differences in honor of Dimebag, who was shot and killed by a crazed gunman while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at a Columbus, Ohio rock club in December 2004.
Vinnie, who is Dimebag‘s brother, and Anselmo have not spoken since PANTERA split in 2003. But the relationship got even more acrimonious when Vinnie indirectly blamed Philip for Dimebag‘s death, suggesting that some remarks the vocalist had made about Dimebag in print just weeks earlier might have incited Dimebag‘s killer.
During a question-and-answer session on June 26 at the Diamond Pub Concert Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, Anselmo was asked if he thought Wylde could fill Dimebag‘s shoes in PANTERA. Anselmo responded: “Zakk is such a badass fucking player, but I just think he’s a different player, man — different style. And also, you’ve gotta remember, tonality comes into it — he has a different tone than Dime, you know? So there would be, I guess, so many things to tweak about what [Zakk] does to not fill [Dimebag‘s] shoes but actually play PANTERA parts. ‘Cause there ain’t no filling them fucking shoes.”
Anselmo continued: “Make no mistake: Zakk Wylde is a fucking awesome motherfucker, down to earth, cool as shit, and can rip his fucking ass off. But I even said something to him after a show. I said, it’s that grip. Nobody had Dimebag‘s fucking grip on that fucking axe — nobody.”