The Untold Truth Of Pantera's Rex Brown

Pantera was a big name in the heavy metal industry for years, and their hard-driving tunes are still loved by millions of headbanging fans around the world. To metalheads, Pantera is legendary, and so are most of the band's members. You can't love metal and not know Phil Anselmo. The guy is loud, both in his music and with his comments on everything, whether or not he has a leg to stand on. Vinnie Paul and "Dimebag Darrell" Abbott, besides being phenoms back in their day, each had a tragic resurgence of fame upon their deaths. But there's one former Pantera member whose name is only known by the heaviest of metalheads, and that's Rex Brown.

Brown was one of the co-founders of Pantera. He rocked the deep notes while he wailed on the bass guitar. And where Brown might not be as famous as some of the band's other members, he has just as much talent, which led him to play with a couple of other bands over the years — Down and Kill Devil Hill come to mind.

The former Pantera member has had an interesting life, as is expected of any star thriving in the rock and roll lifestyle. This is the untold truth of Rex Brown.

His father died when he was young

There wasn't a whole lot of time between Rex Brown being evicted from his mother's womb and when he first started slashing with Pantera at 17 years old. Things seemed to come early for Brown. Some things good, like music, and other things that would cause some deep emotional pain, like his father dying when Brown was still in elementary school.

Brown talks about his father in his book, Official Truth, 101 Proof, recalling that in the few years he was able to spend with his dad, the pair developed a strong bond. It was a tough time. Brown's father, known to young Rex Brown as "Daddy Bill," was an extremely sick man. He had cancer of the sinuses, diagnosed in 1971 when cancer screening was less developed than it is today. By the time the doctors discovered Daddy Bill's cancer, it had already progressed to a dangerous condition.

To Brown, as he recalls, nothing was out of the ordinary. The family tried their best to act like everything was fine, even though it wasn't. Daddy Bill received chemo and radiation therapy that left him feeling sick enough that he spent a lot of his time at the hospital, where Brown and his family would visit and sneak in his father's favorite meal: fried catfish and Budweiser. Brown was all of seven years old when his father died from the disease. His mother had a hard time coping, but they pushed on.

Brown played the tuba

The bass guitar may have been destined to fall into Rex Brown's hands, but it wasn't the first instrument he ever picked up. Brown was featured on Loudwire's Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction video segment in 2016 to discuss the inaccuracies in his Wikipedia bio. (For those of you just joining cyberspace, Wikipedia isn't necessarily the most consistently reliable source of information. You could hop onto Brown's bio right now and write that he grew up under the care of flying monkeys on a spaghetti spaceship and no one would be the wiser. Well, except Brown, of course.)

During the interview segment, Brown discusses why he decided to pick up the bass, telling Loudwire that were too many guitar players when he was a kid and there were "all these different chords." But Brown knew the bass clef like the back of his hand. Why? Because he "played tuba of all things." He must have been pretty good because he went all-state. Tuba: Not exactly something you'd expect from a heavy metal bassist. Still pretty neat.

Life-threatening health problems

Before the tuba, Brown's grandmother, who used to play for silent movies, had taught the musician to play the piano, and, according to his book Official Truth, 101 Proof, he actually learned an entire line up of other instruments before the bass, including the drums. The guy is basically a one-man-band.

Brown has been known to have a bit of a drinking problem, something his former Pantera bandmates have complained about. Brown is sober now, according to a 2013 interview with Blabbermouth, but not before he encountered some serious health issues.

For five years, Brown had been experiencing abdominal pain, which he tried to ignore. Sometime in 2009, the pain became intense enough to get checked out. Doctors discovered it was more than just a tummy ache. Brown was suffering from a case of pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas that can cause severe health issues, or death. Brown received treatment, including the removal of pancreatic polyps and his gallbladder, and came out the other side, according to Blabbermouth. The doctors helped Brown get on a program that helped him put down the bottle, which the bassist says "brought back that hunger."

Rex's drinking stained his friendship with Phil

Brown's drinking problem caused him a lot of physical trouble. His substance abuse also put a significant strain on his relationships. Granted, there are two sides to this story. Before Pantera went through their breakup, Brown was already part of another band, Down, where the bassist played before leaving unexpectedly for Kill Devil Hill in 2011. When the latter shift occurred, Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo sat down with High Times (posted at Blabbermouth) to talk about Brown's alcoholism, claiming it got the bassist booted from Down.

"He just can't stop f****** drinking," Anselmo tells High Times. "I gave it my all and I love Rex Brown with all of my f****** heart and soul. But ... he will not put down that f****** bottle for any of us." Anselmo also says he'll only hang out with Brown if he's not hitting the sauce, so, basically, they don't spend any time together.

Brown claims that he left Down for Kill Devil Hill because of the way they immediately clicked together. The bassist was interviewed by Metal Maiden (posted on YouTube) right after the switch occurred, and the only line he had to say about Anselmo was, "You know, Philip and I had been together 23 years." As far as leaving Down, Brown says, "I just quit." And, that about sums it up, right?