“Dime was still upset about Pantera”: Zakk Wylde recalls inspiring Dimebag Darrell to carry on in the early 2000s

Photos of Zakk Wylde sitting down and Dimebag Darrell performing on-stage
(Image credit: Zakk Wylde: Matt Winkelmeyer (Getty) / Dimebag Darrell: Scott Gries (Getty))

Talking exclusively in the new issue of Metal Hammer, Black Label Society leader Zakk Wylde has reflected on consoling his close friend and Pantera predecessor Dimebag Darrell in the 2000s. Following Pantera’s initial dissolution in 2003, Dimebag (real name Darrell Abbott) was unsure of how to continue making music and start afresh with his next band Damageplan, according to Wylde. Pantera had been the guitarist and his drummer brother Vinnie Paul’s life’s work since they co-founded the groove metal four-piece as teenagers in 1981.

“That was the only time I ever talked to [Dimebag] when he wasn’t a force of positivity,” Wylde told writer Jon Wiederhorn. “Clearly, he was still upset about Pantera. They had worked so hard to get to where they did and then it all ended, and he basically had to start over again. He was like, ‘Zakk, what am I gonna do?’”

To comfort him, Wylde sent Dimebag a photo of late Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads practising guitar in front of a mirror. “I said to Dime, ‘Whenever you’re feeling down, just look at this picture for inspiration,’” he explained.

In the same article, Wiederhorn also quotes Paul as saying in 2004 that Pantera, towards the end of their original run, grew “more and more narrow-minded”.

“With the last couple of Pantera records we kept getting more and more narrow-minded, not due to our preference in music, but because of Phil [Anselmo, singer],” the drummer admitted. “He was always like, ‘No, we can’t do that. We have to stick to our sound.’ So, with the new band [Damageplan], we said, ‘Well hey, let’s put everything we ever played in the past in there and then some. Let’s check out these new bands that are out now and get inspired again and move forward.’”

After becoming ’90s metal heroes with such albums as Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display Of Power, Pantera split as a result of a growing rift between the Abbotts and Anselmo. Dimebag passed away in December 2004, after infamously being shot on-stage while playing with Damageplan, and Paul later also died in 2018. The band eventually reunited in 2022, with Wylde replacing Dimebag on guitar and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante filling in for Paul. Due to the Abbotts’ absence and Anselmo’s shouting of “White power!” while on-stage in 2016, the comeback has proven controversial.

Read Wiederhorn’s full article about Damageplan and the breakup of Pantera in the new issue of Metal Hammer, which celebrates the 2000s by exploring the nu metal takeover and interviewing Jackass wildman Steve-O. Order your copy online here.

Matt Mills

Louder’s resident Cult Of Luna obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.