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Pantera: A Wild Photo History With Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown

Pictures to feature in ‘A Vulgar Display of Pantera’ book by photographer Joe Giron

Pantera New Book Tour Gallery

See photos from throughout the history of Pantera with commentary by Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown.

Joe Giron

“These photos have brought back so many memories,” former Pantera bassist Rex Brown says, looking at pictures taken from the upcoming coffee-table book A Vulgar Display of Pantera. “It’s like half your life right there.”

The book, which comes out September 13th and features a foreword by Brown, contains 400 pages of photos by a person Brown calls the “fifth member of the band,” Joe Giron. It chronicles each step of the group’s history, from its origins as a Texas club band in the mid-Eighties – when singer Terry Glaze was their frontman and guitarist Dimebag Darrell went by Diamond Darrell – to their final tour in 2001 when they were supporting Reinventing the Steel. It presents arresting photos from several turning points in the band’s career – including their tours with Skid Row and White Zombie and their performance in Russia just after the fall of communism – and shows their playful side both on and offstage.

The photo above was taken in 1990 on the Santa Monica Pier around the time the group put out its major-label debut, Cowboys From Hell. “We were serious about the music and at other times we were a bunch of cutups,” Brown says in reaction to the shot.

“There is myself and one Dimebag Darrell with the tip of my mohawk and his hair entwined as one,” says Phil Anselmo looking at the same photo. “At that age we were probably thinking, ‘I hope this is the last picture, because it is absolutely Beer:30.'”

Pantera broke up a couple of years after their final tour and brothers Darrell and Vinnie Paul went on to form Damageplan. Darrell was killed onstage during a concert with the latter group in 2004. Now, Anselmo is fronting a number of bands including Down and Scour. Brown is working on a solo album – which he likens musically to Foghat, Tom Waits and Tom Petty – that will feature a number of guests including members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. And Paul is playing drums with Hellyeah.

Here, Anselmo and Brown look back on Pantera’s history.

Pantera New Book Tour Gallery

Joe Giron

Reinventing the Steel (2001)

Anselmo: This is the Reinventing the Steel tour, where I was warned beforehand, "Man, heavy metal's kinda going down the drain. There's this nu-metal kinda moving in, which has different elements and heavy metal's on its way out." Yeah. And I'm looking at a sold-out stadium right here. This just goes to show once again that Pantera has the greatest fans in the world.

Brown: You see what it's all about. I think we were definitely at the top of our game, because we were following Slayer. If there's a way to go out, there it was. The whole Pantera logo lit up in flames. It was the biggest production we ever took out. Usually, if it was up to us, we would have hung 60-watt light bulbs and just flung them over the stage, which we did in the "I'm Broken" video. But we went over the top in the production. I hate to call it the very end, but it was.

Anselmo: If we're really going to get into commentary here, yes, I see the projected Confederate flags. Well, for one, I've always said, "Flags don't mean a damn thing to me." Two, by using the Confederate flag, despite what anyone says  and I don't give a shit, because no matter what I say, I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't  but the truth of it all is, it was about as innocent as innocent could be. We weren't confessing to any clandestine power of structure or however you assholes wanna put it these days. I think we used the Confederate flag merely because of Lynyrd Skynyrd. We had learned from people before us. And it was never about anything other than that.

Brown: The Confederate flag is on the back cover of [1996's] The Great Southern Trendkill. That was the "Southern" part of it. There were still states that had that on their state flags. Nowadays it's forbidden to use it. It's not so politically correct. But it had nothing to do with racism. None of us were like that. It was just a tie-in to the artwork on the back cover. Even back then, I said, "This is not the way to go." Lynyrd Skynyrd used one for years and still do. Now people confuse it with racism and hatred. That's not what this band is about at all; quite the opposite. But it's the only thing I would say in the P.C. days that I have any regrets about.

Anselmo: Of course they wanted that little buzz shot at the very end, and I hope you're still recording me. I know what you're doing, media. I do. I know what you're doing. And I hope you get a whole lot of clicks out of it. I really do. There's your headline. Thank you.

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