Hey fellow metal lover! In case you didn‘t hear yet, there‘s been some drama with the long-awaited Pantera reunion tour. The band hit the stage for their first shows in 20 years recently, but had to make a last-minute change – original bassist Rex Brown pulled out. As a huge Pantera fan myself, I was dying to find out: who replaced Rex at those shows? And what‘s the deal with him leaving? Let me break it down for you…
The COVID Excuse Doesn‘t Tell The Whole Story
So according to Rex‘s official statement, he had to bow out of Pantera‘s set at Knotfest Chile (plus a show in Colombia) due to a “very mild strain of COVID.” But here‘s the thing – Rex has a history of substance abuse issues. He‘s been open in the past about battling alcoholism. So understandably, some fans are speculating there could be more to the story. This is the band‘s long-awaited reunion tour, and Rex already dropped out after just a few shows? The timing seems fishy.
I‘m not calling the man a liar. But as someone who follows Pantera closely, my gut says the COVID excuse sounds a bit too convenient. Especially when there‘s a simpler explanation – unfortunately, Rex may have fallen off the wagon. Let‘s hope he gets the help he needs either way!
Cattle Decapitation‘s Derek Engemann Got The Call
Stepping in to handle bass duties for those South American shows was metal veteran Derek Engemann. He‘s the bassist for grindcore band Cattle Decapitation, and even better – he‘s jammed with Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo before! Engemann plays in Phil‘s side bands The Illegals and Scour.
So already having chemistry with Anselmo likely made Engemann the obvious choice for a last-minute sub. Setlists confirm he handled the bass for most of the set both nights. Pretty impressive to get thrown into the hot seat on iconic Pantera tracks like “Walk” and “This Love”!
And Down‘s Bobby Landgraf Joined Towards The End
Now this part is interesting. For the last few songs in Chile, former Down guitarist Bobby Landgraf also got up on stage to help out on bass! Having an additional backup player ready makes me think Pantera suspected they might need to swap musicians in and out. Smart to have a plan B in place.
What Does This Mean for Pantera‘s Future Shows?
Here‘s the million dollar question – now that Rex skipped these shows, is he out entirely?? The band just announced a massive North American tour with Metallica next year. Will Rex participate or sit those out too? I hope this was just a one-time issue and he can get back to full health for future concerts.
As a fan, you just hate to see band drama get in the way of the music. And in Pantera‘s case, I think it would be especially disappointing. Let me explain why…
Remembering Dimebag Darrell‘s Tragic Death
Most metalheads know the story, but as a quick refresher – back in 2004, beloved founding guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was actually shot and killed on stage. A deranged fan stormed the stage and murdered him in cold blood. Absolutely horrific.
Obviously the original Pantera lineup died with Dime that night. After his death, drummer Vinnie Paul said reuniting Pantera without his brother would be impossible. Vinnie sadly passed away himself in 2018. RIP to both legends \m/.
So technically, any reunion now is missing key original members. But at least we still have Phil and Rex! Seeing them on stage playing the Pantera classics we know and love is such a trip down memory lane. I think they owe it to fans (and Dimebag‘s memory) to keep this reunion going as long as possible.
Why Rex Is Irreplaceable
In my opinion, no backup musician can truly fill Rex‘s shoes. There‘s just too much history there! Across Pantera‘s iconic 1980s-90s run, their album sales speak for themselves:
- 1990‘s Cowboys From Hell – Over 1 million copies sold
- 1992‘s Vulgar Display of Power – Over 2 million copies sold
- 1994‘s Far Beyond Driven – Debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200
Rex Brown lived through Pantera‘s entire journey from nobodies to the biggest groove metal band on the planet. He‘s an integral piece of the Pantera puzzle. For the band to cut ties and continue touring without him would be a travesty in my eyes.
My Takeaway As a Fan
Maybe I‘m an optimist, but I hope Rex can regain his footing and rejoin his Pantera brothers. If this was just a temporary stumble, I know the metal community would welcome him back with open arms. We‘re rooting for you Rex!
But if the worst happens and Rex can‘t get back on track, I hope Pantera will at least retire the reunion idea gracefully. Trying to swap in random replacement members and keep milking the nostalgia would feel like tarnishing Dime and Vinnie‘s memory. Not to mention they‘d catch hell from fans for continuing without Rex!
The potential is still there for Pantera‘s surviving members to create new music together, write their next chapter. But if Rex isn‘t involved, it just wouldn‘t truly be Pantera for me. Here‘s hoping the metal gods smile upon us and grant us many more years of the magic Phil, Rex, Dime and Vinnie created. Stay heavy my friends \m/