As one of the founding members of Pantera, Rex Brown was an influential figure in hard rock and metal in the '90s and 2000s before launching a solo career in the 2010s. Brown was born on July 27, 1964 in Graham, Texas. His first instrument was piano, and he learned to play ragtime tunes from his grandmother. As he grew into his teenage years, Brown discovered hard rock, and became a major fan of ZZ Top, Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. When he was 12, he began learning to play bass guitar, and played in his high school's jazz band alongside drummer Vinnie Abbott. In 1982, Brown and Abbott joined forces with Vinnie's brother Darrell Abbott and vocalist Terry Glaze to form a heavy metal band called Pantera. It wasn't until 1990 that Pantera enjoyed a commercial breakthrough with their first major-label album, Cowboys from Hell, by which time Phil Anselmo had become the band's lead singer, the Abbott brothers adopted the stage names Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell, and Brown began using his own name after being billed as Rex Rocker on the group's early independent LPs. Brown would record four studio albums with Pantera following their emergence on the national stage before the group broke up after the release of Reinventing the Steel in 2000.
In 1998, during downtime from Pantera, Brown played bass on the album Boggy Depot by Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, and he would later reunite with Pantera vocalist Anselmo in the group Down, appearing on the albums Down II (A Bustle in Your Hedgerow) (2002) and Down III: Over the Under (2007) before parting ways with the group. In 2004, Brown served as producer and instrumentalist on Crowbar's album Life's Blood for the Downtrodden, and in 2006, material Brown recorded with Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul, and outlaw country legend David Allan Coe between 1999 and 2003 saw belated release under the title Rebel Meets Rebel. In 2008, Brown guested on the album Inflikted by Cavalera Conspiracy, led by former Soulfly and Sepultura vocalist Max Cavalera. Brown next co-founded the band Kill Devil Hill, who released their self-titled debut album in 2012. In 2017, after a recording career that had already lasted over three decades, Brown released his first solo album, Smoke on This..., which found him playing guitar as well as bass. ~ Mark Deming