Pantera’s Forgotten Glam Metal 80’s Days
Before Pantera dominated the 90’s metal scene and inspired countless bands, they originally were a glam metal band fronted by vocalist Terry Glaze. Today Rock N’ Roll True Stories takes a look at the band in the 80’s. Check out the full story below!
Pantera is a band whose mostly remembered for their domination of the 90’s metal scene. A lot of people don’t talk about their early days, more specifically their first three albums with frontman Terry Glaze, before Phil Anselmo joined the band. The band didn’t have overnight success. They took almost a decade to break big and they started out surprisingly as a glam metal band. On the surface they looked like just another band from the sunset strip, but how did they end up playing glam metal and how did their sound finally evolve into the Pantera we all know and love? Stay tuned for today’s story.
The 1980’s were a really crucial time for heavy metal. The late 70’s and early 80’s saw an influx of british bands including but not limited iron maiden, venom, saxon which better known as the new wave of british heavy metal.In addition to that, you had speed and trash metal sprouting up and gaining more popularity in both America and Europe.
It was during the early 80’s that two teenage siblings known as the Abbott brothers including Vinnie and Darrell started their own band. It was no surprise the Abott brothers chose a career i music, it ran in their family. Their father Jerry was a respected blues and country producer who also owned his own studio. Jerry was crucial in encouraging his sons to pursue music. In fact Dimebag Darrell would recall in the book Louder Than Hell By Jon Wiederhorn
“my brother vinnie came home from school one day carrying a tuba and my dad said son take that thing back. Play the drums or do something that’s gonna make you some cash.” As kids, the Abott brothers would spend a lot of time in their dad’s studio and meet a lot of blues and country musicians. Some of those musicians would teach the budding guitarist Darrell some cool licks while his father would teach him scales. Their father would end up producing Panera’s first three albums, he would manage the band early in their career and even bought the band their first car which they used to get to gigs
Initially the Abbott brothers both started playing drums, but after a few weeks Vinnie got better than his brother and asked his father to buy Darrell a guitar. Vinnie would recall the early days of his brother playing the guitar revealing in Louder Than Hell “I used to walk by his room and see him with his ace frehley makeup on standing in front of the mirror holding the guitar. I said are you ever gonna learn to play that thing. I never thought he would. One day he comes into my room and says are you ready to jam. He plugs in and starts playing smoke on the water. We played it for five or six hours and we were hooked forever” he’d say.
The brothers would attend Bowie High school in Arlington Texas where they met Terry Glaze and Tommy Bradford. Glaze who played guitar at the time wanted Vinnie to join his band with Bradford, but Vinnie made it clear he came as a package deal with his brother. They would agree and add singer Donnie Hart who had a PA.
The lineup underwent several changes and they soon lost their singer as well as bass player beforeadding bassist Rex Brown and Terry Glaze would take over vocals and they would shrink the lineup to a four piece. Brown would remember his early days with the same book revealing “When I first met Darrell he must have been 14. Me and Vinnie were in high school and Darrell could barely hit a bar chord. But he learned fast. He was a natural” he’d remember. And that’s absolutely true. By Darrell’s own admission he only ever took one guitar lesson in his life and never went back for a second one. He ditched school and guitar became his main focus in life. And soon enough he would start winning guitar contests and getting free gear and at one point was banned from entering any more contests because he was so good and instead he would start judging guitar contests as a teenager according to Glaze. This one was won in a guitar contest. Yeah, It used to be burgundy. I won it in a guitar contest. There used to be these guitar contests. I had seven of them, eight of them back to back. I got charvelle’s, that’s where i got turned onto randall then after i won seven of them they said ok no more guitarist contests for you, you’re the judge. They made me the judge.. It was very fine cool.
The band would go by several monickers before landing on the name Pantera including Gemeni, and Eternity. The first name me and Dime ever came up with for the band was Gemeni following in the footsteps in the band of bands like Journey and Heart. Bands like that. Than it elevated from Gemeni to Eternity, which was much cooler. And then one day when I was in high school in drumlins, one guy suggested to me you gotta call your band Pantera. I think i even remember his name, his name was Donnie Sours and he goes and i said what the hell is pantera and he says oh man it’s the coolest race car there is and i started investigating and it meant Panther in Spanish and really liked the way it just had a really nice ring to it and brought it to the band i brought in a logo with a cats head on it .It was the very first logo we ever had. Everybody loved it.
The band members soon took stage names with Darrell referring to himself as Diamond Darrell, while Rex would become known as Rex Rocker. With a stable lineup in tow, the band soon started building their reputation in and around Dallas and even started opening for some big name acts including Quiet Riot, Dokken and Stryper.
What none of the band’s Pantera opened for knew, is that within a decade they would reinvent metal and dominate the 90’s, something none of those 3 acts would do. Terry Glaze would tell Ultimate Guitar what the early days of the band were like saying
“I don’t think anybody was difficult when there was no money involved. We were just doing it because we loved it, everybody was pretty easy. “By Glaze’s own admission in Louder Than Hell the band was making about $150 a week and everything they made was basically put back into the band to buying gear going on to say
“I can’t imagine how hard it might’ve been once finances got involved. That’s usually where the difficult part comes in, probably when they started getting really big. That would be my guess.”
With Glaze fronting the band Pantera would put out three albums on their own label including Metal Magic, Projects in the Jungle and I Am The Night.”
The band’s debut record Metal Magic would be heavily influenced by the likes of Kiss and Van Halen while also featuring song titles you’d think you’d hear on a steel panther album including “Ride My Rocket,” and “Biggest Part of Me,”
The band’s follow up record, 1984’s Projects in the Jungle was much heavier, while still staying true to their glam sound and saw the band release their first music video for the song ‘all over tonight.’ Their follow up record and final with singer terry glaze would be 1985’s I am the Night. By 1987 Glaze would leave the band citing concerns over how the group’s business affairs were handled while at the same time being frustrated that no major labels were courting the group. He would tell Ultimate Guitar
The reason I left is – the four of us, plus Vince and Darell’s father, we all voted and the Abbotts, the three of them, never split their vote. And so, it didn’t matter what I wanted to do, the Abbotts, they made the decision.
“And eventually, I just thought, ‘I don’t like what’s going on.’ So that’s why I left. And I’ll just tell you this: I loved playing in that band, and we were good.
“It wasn’t the two hours on stage, it was the other 22 hours of the day when we wanted to kill each other, which is typical for artists. I loved the music, I had no problem with it, it was just getting along when we weren’t on stage.” The members of Pantera have discussed in previous interviews how musically they also wanted to go in a heavier direction being more influenced by the likes of Slayer and Metallica, while Glaze leaned more towards Van Halen,
Despite what fans may think of Pantera’s first three albums, they were important in giving the band the level of comfort and experience in a studio setting. In addition to that while the band didn’t tour a lot, they played a lot of gigs in and around Arlington and Dallas area and it was pretty common for them to do multiple sets a night, which gave them experience at live gigs. Back in those days a lot of club owners wanted bands to play covers and not originals, so in Pantera’s early days the band would maybe play two sets of covers with a third set consisting of some original material..
Following Glaze’s departure the band would audition several singers before Phil Anselmo tried and joined in 1987. By this point in time the band already had an idea of where they wanted to take their sound and that would be their next record 1988’s Power Metal. Power Metal would also represent the band’s first release with the Abbott brothers father wasn’t a producer. The band would also lose their glam look et the music do the talking.On that record Anselmo would cite Rob Halford of Judas Priest as one of his biggest influence at the time.
As recently as this year bassist Rex Brown was interviewed by Eon music where he blasted Terry Glaze saying it upsets him that the former singer still comments on Pantera to this day and made it clear that unless Phil is singing, it’s not Pantera. He also ruled out any possibility of there ever being reissues of Pantera’s first three records. Glaze for his part would go to college and spend his post-pantera days playing in other bands as well. Both Glaze and Anslemo have been complementary towards each other’s time in the band as well. That does it for today’s video guys thanks for watching. Be sure to hit the like button and subscribe button and we’ll see you again on rock n’ roll true stories.