Zakk Wylde Reveals When He First Thought About Joining Pantera, Opens Up on Band’s Impact Today

Metal guitar master Zakk Wylde reflected on becoming a Pantera member and revealed that the idea of him doing something with the band goes way back to what most people thought.

Ever since the announcement in July 2022, and quickly the announcement of Zakk Wylde’s and Charlie Benante’s involvement, we’ve read so many theories of whether this is the “real” Pantera or not. Whatever may be the case, we’re looking at a killer lineup doing great shows, and new audiences are getting the chance to see and hear Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown do stuff together again.

However, interestingly enough, as Zakk revealed in a recent appearance on the Heavy Interviews channel, the initial idea of him doing something with Pantera was while drummer Vinnie Paul was still alive. In fact, it happened not long after Dimebag Darrell’s tragic passing. Asked how long it was actually seriously discussed, Zakk replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“It’s been for a while. I mean, as long as I can remember. After Dimebag passed away — when Vinnie [Paul] was around — there were talks about it then.”


Of course, these talks were more around the lines of potential new gigs and nothing was set in stone. But it was still a possibility. Zakk continued:

“So before Vinnie had passed away, I just said, ‘Guys, if you ever need, [it’s] no different from your truck breaking down in the middle of the night. You call me up, and you go, ‘Zakk, can you come pick me up?’ So it’s like, ‘No problem, I’ll be there in a little bit.'”

On the other hand Vinnie also wasn’t super positive about this idea and, after the 2022 announcements, some old videos of him surfaced where he openly opposed the idea. There’s also speculation about whether he’d be up for anything if he was still around, but that’s best left for some other time.

These days, especially after the worldwide pandemic and people being hungry for concerts, it seems that metal fans are really happy about having the chance to hear this version of Pantera.

Pantera - Cowboys From Hell! Crazy crowd @ Knotfest Chile 2022!!!

And, as Zakk added during the interview, he loves the response from fans these days as Pantera keeps crushing on their world tour.

“It’s a beautiful thing, man — seeing the reactions on everybody,” Wylde said after being asked how he feels about playing Dimebag’s music. “Because the Pantera faithful that have seen the band could take a trip down memory lane and just get flooded with awesome memories of back in the day.”

“And then, you have all the younger generation that never got to witness the real thing, so for them to still hear this music live just shows you the strength of the songs and the strength of what the guys created.”

To make his point, Zakk also made a comparison between Pantera and Led Zeppelin:

“So like I said, I think it’s a beautiful thing every night — just seeing the looks on everyone’s faces — because I never got a chance to see [Led] Zeppelin live. I mean, it would be kind of the same thing with me if they went out and toured with Jason [Bonham]. It’s the same kind of thing. I mean, obviously, it’s not Zeppelin — but it’s just to hear those songs and see the guys perform. That’s what it’s all about.”

As you can see, Wylde openly says that it’s not exactly a reunion, at least not in a classic sense. It’s more of a “tribute” or “celebration” than anything else. Although we now know his stance and wider audiences have accepted it, back when they started preparing for the tour, he had to clarify what it actually is.

PANTERA - FULL SHOW@CFG Bank Arena Baltimore 2/24/24

Speaking to Ultimate Guitar back in October 2022, Zakk discussed the whole thing by explaining:

“It’s like, ‘Zack, would you ever do it?’ It’s like, ‘Well, of course I’m going to do it. Why would I not?’ I’m going to do best job I can, obviously, but that’s not my decision, that’s the guys. Back in the day with Vinnie, there were discussions, and then, after Vinnie passed away, I didn’t think anything would ever happen. I remember Phill called me one night, and was like, ‘Zakk, me and Rex would really love it if you would honor Dime.’

“And I was like, ‘Of course, guys, I would always be here to honor Dime and all your achievements.’ The way I looked at it – It’s just a bunch of friends getting together, honoring their buddies, you know what I mean?”

PANTERA - FULL SHOW@Madison Square Garden New York 2/22/24

Reflecting on whether it’s a real Pantera or not, he said:

“It was so funny, because somebody was like, ‘It’s not Pantera!’ Of course it’s not Pantera. [laughs] It’s Phill, Rex and two of their buddies getting together to honor Dime, Vinnie and all their achievements. It’s a celebration of Pantera and all the mountains they conquered. It’s the way I look at it.”

Photo: Elekes Andor (Pantera-)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.