‘What Is This? This Is Amazing!’ – How Pantera Won Over Rob Halford

Mark Coatsworth, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons/Rik Goldman, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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As cliché will tell you, you should never meet your idols. Although someone might appear larger than life on stage, in reality, they are flesh and blood, fallible humans. Heroes have bad days. Heroes can let you down. Hell, heroes might very well be total fucking assholes. Imagine for a second that you worshiped the ground that Chevy Chase walked on, only to have the unfortunate experience of running into the guy at a bar. By all accounts, you’d be bummed.

Yes, being only human can be a detriment. However, it’s also what makes a true icon. In the world of metal, we’re lucky to be surrounded by musicians who come to their craft as fans and stay that way. Most bands that are worth their salt keep their ear to the underground and one foot firmly planted in grassroots scenes. The best of them never forget where they came from.

Following the death of Pantera’s Vinnie Paul, Rob Halford penned an essay about the impact the band had on him for Metal Hammer. In the piece, the legendary Judas Priest frontman told the touching story of when he first met first encountered the Cowboys From Hell:

“I didn’t know anything about them until around 1990, when Judas Priest were rehearsing for the Painkiller tour up in Toronto. They had this TV channel, MuchMusic, which was like the MTV of Canada, and I was watching it in my hotel room. And I saw this chap, Dimebag, talking about his band, Pantera, and about heavy metal in general. But he was wearing a British Steel T-shirt, so that really caught my eye. And then they played the video for the song Cowboys from Hell, and I was instantly glued to the screen: ‘What is this? This is amazing!’

“So I called the MuchMusic studios and said, ‘Is this guy Dime still there? Because I’d like to pop over and meet him.’ So I jumped in a taxi and went right round to the studio. That was the first time I ever met him in person, and right from the get-go we clicked. He was a massive Priest fan, a massive fan of heavy metal music in general. It was an instant friendship.

“That night, they were playing a little club in Toronto, so we went straight from the studio to the venue. That’s where I met Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown and, of course, Vinnie Paul. That Texas hospitality people talk about is a very real thing, and I felt it that night. We were talking and it felt like we’d been friends forever.

“We jammed together that night – I went on and did “Metal Gods” and “Grinder.” Those bonds were forged on the spot – bonds of friendship, bonds of music. I told the rest of Priest about them, and that was it – we ended up taking Pantera with us to Europe on the Painkiller tour, which is where the band were introduced to the metalheads over there for the first time.”

In a segment of the Louder Noise animated series “True Metal Stories,” a cartoon Vinnie Paul tells the story in his own words. Check it out below!


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