Cowboys from Hell (song)

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"Cowboys from Hell"
Single by Pantera
from the album Cowboys from Hell
Released July 24, 1990 (album)
1990 (single)
Recorded December 30, 1989
Genre Groove metal
Length 4:07
Label Atlantic
Writer(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. The song was the band's first single and first appears on the band's 1989 demo album, and later on their major label debut album Cowboys from Hell. The song also appears on the band's compilation album.

Pantera used the phrase "Cowboys from Hell" (or its abbreviation, CFH) liberally in its image and merchandise. The song showcases Dimebag Darrell on guitar.

Writing and recording[edit]

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

"Cowboys from Hell" was the first song Pantera wrote for the record. It was recorded on the band's 1989 demo album, Cowboys from Hell: The Demos. After the band got signed to Atco Records, they rerecorded the song and put it on their major label debut.


The lyrics of the song concern (in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way) the fact that the band were from Texas, a place not usually known at the time for producing successful metal bands, and that they were breaking out of their home state to the world at large.

Vinnie Paul on the song:

"Cowboys(from Hell) 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."[1]

Release and reception[edit]

"Cowboys from Hell" was the band's first single off their major label debut album of the same name. With an instantly recognizable guitar riff, "Cowboys from Hell" is one of the most popular Pantera songs. "Cowboys from Hell" ranked #25 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs.[2]


The video, along with "Psycho Holiday", also from the Cowboys from Hell album, was shot in a Dallas club that the band was often found at called "The Basement" and was directed by Paul Rachman. The video simply shows the band playing the song live to an audience.

Live performance[edit]

The song became a staple at the band's shows. Live versions of the song can be found on their Official Live: 101 Proof album and on their Alive and Hostile E.P.

A live version from 1990 at their Foundations Forum show is available on the band's expanded edition of their 20th anniversary reissue of Cowboys from Hell.



  1. ^
  2. ^ "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.