Pantera would have reunited if guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott hadn’t been murdered, his longtime girlfriend Rita Haney has said – and she’s revealed that the guitarist was already working towards a reconciliation.

The band split in 2003 amid a breakdown in relationships, fueled in part by frontman Phil Anselmo’s drug addiction. Dimebag and his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul, went on to form Damageplan. The guitarist was shot dead on stage with the new band on December 8, 2004, in Columbus, Ohio. Since then, surviving members Paul, Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown have fielded requests for a reunion, potentially with Zakk Wylde in Dimebag’s place – but despite saying there's no longer any bad feeling, Paul has said a reunion is unlikely.

Asked if Pantera would have got back together if Dimebag hadn’t died, Haney told the Talk Toomey podcast (via Blabbermouth): “He had already made the effort to get on the phone with Rex on his birthday, on August 20, in 2004, and had made plans to speak with him again. So, yeah, definitely.

“Because I know how, in his heart, he was Pantera. He always would be. No matter what it was called, Damageplan or what, that was always what was inside of him. He felt he had something to prove. He didn't wanna do those things with [Damageplan singer] Pat Lachman. Pat had already been causing issues and there were problems. I have several voice messages from [Darrell] that I still have… he was, like, 'Man, I don't wanna work with this dude. I wanna fire him. I just don't want people to think we're difficult to work with.' I mean, that's just how he felt. So, yeah, I definitely believe that they would be standing on stage together.”

Discussing the resentment that both she and Paul felt for Anselmo at the time of Dimebag’s death, Haney reflected that the frontman had “blame that was laid on him that wasn’t his burden to carry.” She added: “I still have resentments and we don't agree on the way some things went. But I know now, when I look in his eyes, it's the Philip I know – it's not the drug-induced and in some kind of weird heroin haze, or whatever you wanna call it.

“But as far as I know how much he loves Darrell — yes. And, like I said, at the end of the day, we are all still family. But I still have some resentments and some things that I know he did that really hurt Darrell, but that's between them. But I also know that the reason Darrell was hurt so bad was because of how much he loved Philip. You can't feel that kind of pain unless someone really matters to you, and Philip matters.”

But she was certain Dimebag would have resolved their issues, saying he was the type of person who “gets to the bottom of it.” She continued: “I just know that he would stand on stage next to [Anselmo]. I know Darrell – the most forgiving person I've ever met.”

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