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Chad Gray Says Vinnie Paul Abbott Was “Never Behind” Pantera Reuniting


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Having shared many stages and studios with the late Vinnie Paul Abbott during their decade-plus run in HELLYEAH, Chad Gray (also of Mudvayne) has a seemingly good read on his late bandmate’s opinion on Pantera ever reuniting. Abbott of course played drums for that outfit.

The latter groove metal legends had originally dissolved in 2003 amid bitter in-fighting which went on to spill into the press. A controversial interview with Anselmo in the 2004 Xmas issue of Metal Hammer saw Anselmo insinuating that Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott “deserves to be beaten severely.”

In December of that year, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and several others were murdered onstage by a mentally ill Pantera fan during a Damageplan concert. While Pantera bassist/vocalist Rex Brown said he didn’t agree with it, he did later confirm that Vinnie Paul went on to hold Anselmo‘s comments and actions in part responsible for murder of his brother.

In the years that followed, Abbott made no effort to hide his disdain for Anselmo, frequently batting down any reunion talk. Anselmo‘s infamous onstage ‘white power’ incident, which took place during 2016 tribute concert to Dimebag, only exacerbated those tensions. Vinnie Paul would later state that Anselmo had “tarnished” the image of Pantera.

According to Gray, Vinnie Paul remained adamant against reuniting Pantera up to his untimely June 2018 death as a result of heart disease. While Anselmo would go on to spend several years touring as a tribute to Pantera with his solo backing band The Illegals, he and Pantera bassist/vocalist Rex Brown would go on to officially resurrect Pantera in late 2022.

The duo enlisted Anthrax‘s Charlie Benante to replace Vinnie Paul on drums, and guitarist Zakk Wylde in place of Dimebag — both of whom had long-standing friendships with the late Abbott brothers. That reunion, which continues on to this day, was done so with the blessing of the estates of both of the late Abbott brothers.

Appearing recently on ‘The Jesea Lee Show‘, Gray made clear that the aforementioned reunion would likely have never taken place if Vinnie Paul was still with us. He commented:

“I know what it is, and I know some levels of the intention are true and pure. But I also know, from sitting in on a million fucking interviews with Vinnie Paul […] there was always some clown interviewer setting himself up for failure, being like: ‘So, what’s the deal with all the mutterings we’re hearing about the Pantera reunion?’

Vinnie would literally go, ‘My brother’s dead.’ That’s all he’d say and they wouldn’t say another fucking word. That’s the way Vinnie thought about it: Pantera was done because his brother was dead. When I hear that, and I hear how passionately he said that, and I know how much he meant it – he didn’t care! Vinnie didn’t need the fucking money. Vinnie’s whole heart was in HELLYEAH.”

Speaking later on the topic, Gray offered:

“Thank you for allowing me to say my piece about where I’m at with it. I hope that people understand that I was best friends with one of the fucking men that made that band happen. He was never behind it, man. He was just never behind it, so it’s hard for me, because I have a lot of respect for Vinnie Paul and I have a lot of respect for Dimebag Darrell.

It’s cool. Let it be the tribute thing, or whatever, but really question how much longer it goes and what else happens with it. Make sure we’re giving love and respect to those two fallen brothers, man.”

[via Metal Hammer]

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