|Jan. 21, 2005 - PHILIP ANSELMO Says PANTERA Would Have Played Again
Philip H Anselmo; On Behalf of Darrell Lance Abbott-Pt. I
I’ve been stumbling around in a coma of loss. No truer lyric has been written than “You don’t know what you’ve got, ‘til it’s gone.” To explain my side of things with the hiatus of Pantera, please give me a moment and think about what I say. Think.
I joined the band in late ‘86/early ‘87, and the chemistry clicked like a vice grip, we hit it off like four bad mother fuckers could. Perfection. Dime, Vince and Rex could play fucking anything. You pick the style, they could pull it off. So in reality we had to find out where our musical hearts lay strongest. After short deliberation, our intention was to be the most devastating ‘hard core-heavy metal’ band in the world.
You know, when the so called heavy metal press first got wind of ‘Cowboys from Hell’ they were absolutely unsure what to think. More bad reviews than good at the time. The Reason? They had never heard a band quite like us before, and I can’t blame the press or anyone for not hearing the full experience, but there were flashes in songs like ‘Primal Concrete Sledge’, and “Message in Blood’. Once again as I have said before, the press remained basically unimpressed, BUT, with the heavy metal audience, the phenomenon of Pantera had already begun. Slowly but surely, the fan base grew larger and larger (the best fans in the world I say still!)
The LP that I believe was the first ‘true’ Pantera LP was our second major release ‘Vulgar Display of Power’. As a band, our brotherhood and obvious originality and musicianship cemented us as one of the most feared and loved bands ever to step on a stage. That, is what we all lived for. We figured as long as our awesome audience was moved (head banging, skanking, stage diving, of course) we would play for us and them. Of course we had a deep connection with both our music and our audience, and we were also very different, image and attitude wise… It was extremely rare to see a lead vocalist or anyone with a shaved head unless you looked deep into the underground with bands like the Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Rose Tattoo, etc…(I didn’t mean to leave anyone out). The difference between us and these great bands was the fact that we also had an insanely great guitar player who was respected alongside the best of the best, and a rhythm section so unique and tight, goddamn they were tight, tight is and always will be the word. I guarantee throughout our 17 year existence it would be extremely difficult to have one memory of Rex or Vince messing up or playing a part wrong ever. That to some people may be amazing or impossible, however I mean what I say 100 times over. They were the best damn musicians I’d ever seen or heard. Period.
With ’Far Beyond Driven’, our 3rd major offering, going to #1 on the Billboard top #200, it seems appropriate to say that some Rock Magazines were taking notice, one way or another. Guitar magazines throughout the world were right on the money by calling Dimebag the best axe man of the time. That was absolutely true and within his lead style, influenced by the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes, Ace Frehley, and himself (it’s true, I believe most all great lead guitar players have their own style to hear and influence. By god Darrell had that type of talent and then some). His rhythms he came up with, in ways, probably became even more influential. His influences were extremely varied and unique from guys like James Hetfield (Metallica), Kerry King and Jeff Hannemen (Slayer), Judas Priest to Motorhead, AC/DC, ZZ top, Robin Trower and even some of the ultra underground bands I would play him. In all honesty he preferred a more accomplished guitar player than some of the rawer sloppier stuff that I adored, but what he did love about the rawer stuff was its all out assault on the ears. Bless him, he did love that. Within his style he commanded and demanded the best out of himself, and all of us around him. So I will say to everyone in Texas that ever called me a friend, and especially all of my brothers that helped work with us as Pantera on the road crew; I love all of you. To the fans in Texas, and the rest across America and the world, beware of the shit you read in rock magazines. When these pathetically titled ‘journalists’ (not all of them, but a lot still), had finally caught on to the fact that we, Pantera, had beaten all the odds a band could, and the press had no choice but to build us up until it seemed that they were all of a sudden desperate to make us supermen in the magazines, it was an assignment. It wasn’t true to them, they were getting paid for it. We weren’t supermen, just a great band. During our whole career, there were always those interviews where you could tell that the ’journalist’ didn’t know shit about our band, using wrong facts, whether they made us look good or bad, not knowing a thing about our characters, our musicianship, or our careers; asking the same questions, or as ’journalists’ love to do, just plain making up whatever they wanted. For every ‘journalist’ out there, these facts may or may not fit in with the way you personally do your work , but I know and so the fuck do you that this load of bullshit behavior, that thousands of fans read on a regular basis, is absolutely irresponsible, and it’s obvious that you truly don’t care about your responsibilities to the fans, or how many lives you truly destroy. It’s all about what sells magazines, isn’t it?
A month has gone by since we, his former band mates, his current band mates, his friends and fans around the world, have lost Dimebag. I can’t necessarily speak for them, but for me, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I awake, if I sleep at all, still. It is also the last thing I think about as I lay down to rest. God damn it still hurts me. I want to be there for Vinnie Paul no matter how long it takes. I want to be there for Rita if she’ll have me. I want to be there for the Kat and the rest of the crew as well, people that have been a part of my life for 17 ½ years. Once again, I’m hoping my biggest hope; that they realize that the bad stuff written about our bands and ourselves was coerced nonsense made to sell magazines. Bare with me, please. I beg you all. By the way, all of the level headed fans that write in and offer support, that in itself is the best therapy I’ve received yet. I have considered retirement because of a broken heart, but also in my heart, I cannot let my fans down. As the days go by I realize that I’m at war with some things inside of myself, that I don’t mind sharing with you: I always, truly always, no matter if it was my own dreams just coming to the surface, if we, just the four of us, were to sit in a room together, we’d have been laughing, crying, and laughing again. The weight of the world would be lifted off of our shoulder as we hugged each other. Play together again? I have a suspicion that our fans would demand some type of reunion. My god I thought of that so many times and because what our fans wanted, they usually got. It may have taken a little longer, but think about how long it took the original Black Sabbath to play together again!?
Then in one night early December, 2004, an event changed the entire year and our entire lives into one of the cruelest sort. Some mentally disturbed individual …crushed the dream. He took one of the most talented, extroverted people ever to grace this earth. I’m crushed for the loss of my friend that I loved, for Vince his brother, for Jerry his father, for Rita his life companion, for all of his good friends, for every music fan that was inspired and loved his playing; especially those who were lost or were injured that night we lost Darrell. None of what I have said will ever bring him back, and it hurts so bad. I add very humbly in hope that no one else out there ever has to go through something like this; Keep your loved ones close.
Yours Truly, I can take no more at this time-
Philip H Anselmo