Artist News Gigs & Festivals

Phil Anselmo offers to quit Down, following racism row

By | Published on Friday 5 February 2016


Former Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo has urged his current band Down to carry on without him, after he sparked a racism scandal last week.

At a tribute show for late Pantera guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott, Anselmo was seen on stage giving a Nazi salute and shouting “white power”. Anselmo later insisted that this was an in-joke about bands being served white wine backstage. But this has been disputed by others – particularly Machine Head’s Robb Flynn – and it isn’t the first time the musician has been accused of racism.

Anthrax’s Scott Ian has also strongly condemned Anselmo’s actions, calling on him to make a donation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which works to fight anti-Semitism, in order to show the strength of his eventual apology.

Having been a matter of much debate over the last week, the incident has now begun to have a knock on effect commercially, with Anselmo’s band Down dropped from the line-up of Dutch festival FortaRock. In a statement, organisers said: “There has been close consultation between all parties in recent days, since we wanted to make a well informed decision. On that basis, the decision is made to cancel [Down’s performance]. We want to make clear that there is no room for racism or fascism on FortaRock”.

In the wake of this, Anselmo issued a new apology on his website, saying: “I am utterly responsible for the mistakes I have made, and can only give you my word to no longer do them in the present, through ACTION, not just mere words … My biggest obstacle(s) are the over-indulging in the booze and blurting out spiteful, ignorant reductions of the human spirit itself. I will address these issues, head-on. I’m repulsed by my own actions, and the self-loathing I’m going through right now is justified by the hurt I’ve caused”.

As for the effect this was now having on the other members of Down, he said: “My bandmates are now experiencing the consequences of my behaviour, and I now publicly apologise to them as well. Never in my entire lifetime would I drag them down with me, and I’ve privately suggested to them that they move on without me”.

The band have not responded directly, though guitarist Pepper Keenan said in a lengthy update on Facebook yesterday that, while he was “saddened and confused” by Anselmo’s behaviour last week, he hoped that “at this moment in time Phil will focus his energy on self-reflection and begin the process of regaining perspective, healing himself and those lives he has touched through music”.