Cowboys from Hell (song)

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"Cowboys from Hell"
Pantera Cowboys from Hell single.jpg
Single by Pantera
from the album Cowboys from Hell
ReleasedJuly 24, 1990 (album)
1990 (single)
RecordedDecember 30, 1989; 29 years ago (1989-12-30)
GenreGroove metal
Songwriter(s)Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul, Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown
Producer(s)Terry Date
Pantera singles chronology
"Cowboys from Hell"
"Cemetery Gates"

"Cowboys from Hell" is a song by American heavy metal band Pantera. First appearing on the band's 1989 demo album, the song is the band's first single. It was released later on the major label debut album Cowboys from Hell, and on the band's compilation album.

Pantera used the phrase "Cowboys from Hell" (or its abbreviation, CFH) liberally in its image and merchandise.


Pantera's vocalist Phil Anselmo recalled on an episode of That Metal Show that during a 1989 house party in Fort Worth, Texas, guitarist Dimebag Darrell arrived late and ran towards Anselmo and said he had a new riff to show him. The two of them went into Abbott's car where he played the intro to Anselmo, who said afterward to Abbott, "Yes, this must be an anthem.".[citation needed]

Drummer Vinnie Paul described the concept:

Cowboys is where everybody came into their own, along with the full-blown Pantera sound", "That was actually the first song we wrote for the record. Basically it was about us coming out of Texas and being out of place. People don't think of Texas as being a hot spot for heavy metal, they think of New York or L.A. or something like that, so it just seemed like an obvious concept for us.[citation needed]

Bassist Rex Brown remembered the designing of the introduction:

The crazy noise at the beginning was just a Dime thing, that's what he was hearing in his head so he made a loop of that to play over. I just remember it was fucking very repetitious and very fucking annoying for a long while. And that "Cowboys From Hell" intro is a little form of in-the-box scaling. We were always down the street watching all these great blues guys come through because Vinnie and Darrell's dad [Jerry Abbott] was an engineer at Pantego studio. We'd sneak down there and sit way underneath the board listening to all this great stuff. And I think that's where Dime got the idea for that intro to "Cowboys". He started it as a kind of modal exercise because he would practice it forwards and backwards.[1]

The song was recorded for the band's 1989 demo album, Cowboys from Hell: The Demos. After the band got signed to Atco Records, the band rerecorded the song and put it on the major label debut album Cowboys from Hell. It was written in the key of E major.[2]


The lyrics state that the band is from Texas, a place not usually known at the time for producing successful metal bands, and that Pantera was aggressively launching out of its home state to the world at large.


"Cowboys from Hell" is the band's first single off their major label debut album of the same name. The song ranked #25 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs.[3]

Guitar World considered "Cowboys from Hell" to be the best Pantera song, writing: "Dimebag Darrell's delicious solo boldly announced that a new guitar hero was in town and loaded for bear".[4]

Metal Hammer ranked the song #3 on its list of the 50 best Pantera songs.[5]


The music videos for this song and for "Psycho Holiday" were recorded in a Dallas club that the band frequented called "The Basement" and were directed by Paul Rachman. The video simply shows the band playing the song live to an audience.


  1. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon. "29 Years Ago: Pantera Find Their Voice With 'Cowboys From Hell'". Loudwire.
  2. ^ "Cowboys From Hell". December 22, 2004.
  3. ^ "VH1 40 Greatest Metal Songs", 1–4 May 2006, VH1 Channel, reported by Archived September 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine; last accessed September 10, 2006.
  4. ^ Bienstock, Richard; Gill, Chris. "The 25 Greatest Pantera Songs of All Time". guitarworld.
  5. ^ Hammer, Dom Lawson2019-02-04T13:05:16Z Metal. "The 50 best Pantera songs ever". Metal Hammer Magazine.