During a recent interview with Metal Hammer, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford has revealed the story of how he first met with Pantera members, especially late guitar god Dimebag Darrell.

He also shared the details of his untold jam with Pantera members. Rob stated as follows:

“It can’t be stressed enough how important Pantera were in saving heavy metal in the 1990s. Things were getting a little mellow, especially in America. Then along came these four gentlemen from Texas who had captured the true spirit of heavy metal. It came from their hearts and their souls. Metal in the ’90s needed Pantera. They were the springboard for so many other bands afterward.

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, Dime, 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.”

He continued on his first met with Pantera members:

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.

The identity that everyone knew them for was in place right from the start. They were a real gang, you couldn’t help but notice that. They were always together in their dressing room. They’d sometimes come into the Priest dressing room, and we would sit and talk metal while they had a few drinks. Or more than a few drinks…

The band were so hungry for it. They’d play anywhere, go on at any time and give 1,000%. They would do whatever it took to get themselves established and become a solid force in heavy metal. They were very, very hungry – couldn’t wait to get onstage. And they had all the power and resource and energy that any new young band has. Just watching them play night after night, giving it all as if that was going to be the last show they’d ever play, was very potent.

They were certainly party animals – that side of the Pantera myth has definitely not been blown out of proportion. They were living the life, as any new young metal band that’s becoming successful has a right to do. It’s a rite of passage. You’re on tour with a band you think the world of – in their case, Judas Priest – you’re going to countries that you never dreamed you’d ever see, of course, you’re going to live the life and eat up everything in your path, just enjoy things to the max.

But at the same time as they were having a good time, they never let it interfere with the music. They took it very, very seriously. They wouldn’t have achieved what they did if they hadn’t taken it seriously.

I never gave them any advice. I don’t think they needed any, frankly. They were so confident and had such great self-belief. However, they were very humble – they weren’t showing off or bragging, going, ‘We’re going to be the next big thing.’ There was none of that in Pantera. None of the members of the band displayed any arrogance or that element that sometimes exists in rock ‘n’ roll. They were true gentlemen in that respect.

I was lucky enough to record with them in the early ’90s. We did a song together, ‘Light Comes Out of the Black,’ for the soundtrack to the original ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ movie. At the time I was in Phoenix and the job had to be done really quickly. I called Dimebag and he said, ‘Just come on down.’ I said, ‘When?’ and he said, ‘Whenever you want.’ So I got on the plane the next day to Dallas, got a cab to the studio and ran through the rough demos that I’d put together. Everyone was like, ‘Got it.’ And bang, we wrapped the whole thing up in a couple of hours.”

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