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Zakk Wylde “beyond honored” to join Pantera reunion tour

Zakk Wylde
(Image credit: Joseph Okpako/WireImage via Getty)

Last week was a whirlwind seven days for Pantera fans. On Thursday, reports confirmed that the band’s surviving members, bassist Rex Brown and frontman Phil Anselmo, had committed to a reunion tour that would be taking place next year. 

A day later, it was reported that Black Label Society guitarist Zakk Wylde and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante had been recruited to fill the spots left by the late Abbott brothers, guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul.

Now Wylde has discussed his involvement in the project for the first time, with the  electric guitar superstar saying he is “beyond honored to be a part” of the reunion tour, which he describes as “a celebration of Vinnie and Dime’s greatness”.

In conversation with Danny Wimmer Presents (opens in new tab) at the Inkcarceration Music & Tattoo Festival, Wylde said he was first onboard with a Dimebag Darrell tribute concert prior to Vinnie Paul’s passing. Now he will be taking the opportunity to pay tribute to both.

“When Vinnie was still alive, when the fellas were all talkin’ about doing it, I just always told them, ‘Guys, of course I would. If you asked me, why would I not do it?’ I’m gonna honor Dime,” he said. “It’d be like Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell asking Eric Clapton if he would go out and honor Jimi [Hendrix], and Eric playing Jimi’s stuff and playing Jimi’s songs, and they are going out as the Jimi Hendrix Celebration – and then they honor his buddy and he is going to play his songs.” 

Wylde also went on to stress that the touring band’s lineup is “not Pantera”, and that the shows will strictly serve as tributes to the Abbott brothers.

"Obviously, it's not Pantera," he continued. "Pantera is those four guys – it's Phil, Rex, Dime and Vinnie. But it's just like when [Led] Zeppelin went out with Jason Bonham [son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham] playing. It was phenomenal. It's a great thing just to hear them play that music again."

“I'm beyond honored to be a part of it,” Wylde added. “When we do the Dimebashes, with Zakk Sabbath, it’s a celebration of Dime’s greatness. And I think this is a Pantera celebration. That’s what it is. It is a beautiful thing. You are celebrating Vinnie and Dime’s greatness, and you are celebrating all the mountains that Pantera conquered and crushed.”

This is a Pantera celebration. That’s what it is. It is a beautiful thing. You are celebrating Vinnie and Dime’s greatness, and you are celebrating all the mountains that Pantera conquered and crushed

Asked if there were any Pantera tracks that were particularly hard to master, Wylde said that playing Dime’s material was no different to what he has done with Ozzy Osbourne all these years. Whether it is Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee, or Dime, stepping into another great guitarist’s shoes is something that he is used to by now.

“It’s just like playing St. Rhoads’ stuff, or Jake’s stuff, or any of the guys,” he said. “When I am involved with the Experience Hendrix thing, you learn the songs – you know what I mean? With Generation Axe, when we were doing Bohemian Rhapsody, father Steve [Vai] wrote all those charts because Steve’s amazing at that stuff. You sit and you learn it.”

The Ozzy Osbourne guitarist’s involvement in the Pantera tour might make perfect sense, yet it still came as something of a surprise after Rex Brown went on record last year as saying Wylde would not be involved in any reunion project.

“It wouldn’t be Zakk Wylde,” the Pantera bassist told eonmusic (opens in new tab). “I guarantee you that. I’ve just put it out there so we can get on past it.”

Despite this, Wylde’s Pantera pedigree is pretty strong, making him the only suitable candidate for the role in the eyes of many. Not only has he jammed with Pantera live, he also guest starred with Dimebag’s post-Pantera project, Damageplan.

No Pantera tour dates have been released.

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.