Pantera co-founder Rex Brown has withdrawn from the band's South America tour after he contracted COVID-19. Brown, 58, joined the band in 1982 and is one of only two members of Pantera's best-known lineup still with the group, which reunited in 2022. The bassist was not with Pantera when the group performed at Knotfest Chile in Santiago on Dec. 11.
Festival organizers said Brown skipped the show because of "health problems." Local media reported that Brown flew back to the U.S. after he contracted COVID-19. He last performed with the band at Knotfest Colombia in Bogota on Dec. 9.
Pantera and Brown later issued a statement to Consequence Heavy, confirming the reports. "I caught a very mild strain of COVID, but because of our own protocols, I simply do not wanna risk getting my brothers or the crew sick," Brown said. "I'm feeling better & am on my way to a speedy recovery. Merry Fckn Christmas & see you all next Year!"
Bassists Derek Engemann and Bobby Landgraf performed in Brown's place in Chile. Both musicians have previously worked with Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo. Engemann was a member of Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals, while Landgraf is a member of Anselmo's band Down.
Drummer Charlie Benante published a video from Chile, sending a get-well-soon message to Brown. "[Chile] was on fire!!!! We missed Rex tonight, get better buddy! Damn it was a hot one," Benante wrote.
Anselmo and Brown are the only members of the new Pantera line-up to play with the original band. The best-known Pantera line-up also featured the Abbott brothers, Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrell. Vinnie died in 2018 at age 54, and Darrell died in 2004 at age 38. The new touring line-up includes Benante on drums and Zakk Wylde as the guitarist.
The Latin American tour started on Dec. 2 at the Hell & Heaven Metal Fest in Mexico. Pantera also played the Monterrey Metal Fest on Dec. 6. The band will play in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Dec. 15 as part of a double-bill show with Judas Priest, and at Knofest Brazil on Dec. 18. The group also has European tour dates scheduled between May and July 2023 and North American dates between August and November with Metallica. They will be joining Metallica for a batch of stadium shows in August 2024 as well.