Though absolutely legendary as a whole entity, Pantera were very much a sum of their parts. The band’s powerful pressence wouldn’t be the same without their disparate influences — the virtuosic dirtbaggery of Dimebag Darrell, the party-animal punch of Vinnie Paul, and the chapped vengeance of Phil Anselmo (Rex played bass). But in 1996, Anselmo was at the height of his addiction issues — he overdosed that June — so it’s not the most insane idea that the band would be looking for a backup frontman. Now, former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar has claimed that he was asked to join Pantera shortly after quitting Van Halen that year, assumedly to replace Anselmo.
In a new interview with SiriusXM’s Jose Mangin, Hagar revealed that he was approached by Pantera’s managers, and that at times he’s not even sure how true this story is.
“How about if I tell you something crazy. I don’t believe it; I don’t believe it’s true,” said the singer. “This was before I actually became friends with [Vinnie Paul]. And [the manager] said Pantera … wanted me to be the lead singer of their band. And he asked me, ‘Would you be interested?’ And I said, ‘No, not after [leaving] Van Halen [in 1996]. I’m not gonna join another band, especially covering for somebody else,’ and this and that.
“And I brought it up to Vinnie one time,” he added. “He didn’t remember it…But I don’t know if there’s any truth to that.”
But as Ultimate Classic Rock points out, this isn’t the first time Sammy has made this claim. In a 2011 Forbes interview, Hagar made passing mention of the incident, saying, “I was asked at one time to be in Motley Crue,” he said. “I was asked at one time to be in Pantera by their [managers]. I was asked to be in Velvet Revolver when Scott Weiland quit and went back to the Stone Temple Pilots. I was waiting to be asked to be in Led Zeppelin to say no, since they were the greatest band on earth and no could replace Robert Plant. I was asked to be in Aerosmith and I said no. Certain bands and certain [frontman] singers are more difficult to replace than others.
You can check out the whole interview and wonder what might have been below:
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Words by Chris Krovatin