Pantera Dumped From Music Festivals Over Racism Claims

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American heavy metal band Pantera – which is scheduled to perform in Canada this summer – has been dumped from the line-up of two big music festivals in Germany over racism complaints dating back years.

Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown, Zack Wylde and Charlie Benante were scheduled to perform at the Rock Am Ring in Nürburgring on June 2 and the Rock Im Park in Nürnberg on June 4.

“In the last few weeks we have had many intensive discussions with artists, our partners and you, the festival fans,” read a message from promoters on social media. “[We] continued to deal with the criticism together and decided to take the band out of the program.”

In 2016, at a tribute to the late guitarist Dimebag Darrell, Anselmo made a “Sieg Heil” gesture (a Nazi victory salute) and shouted “White power!”

He later claimed he was joking and added: “Some of y’all need to thicken up your skin … I f**king love everyone, I f**king loathe everyone, and that’s that. No apologies from me.”

As condemnation grew, Anselmo issued a statement in which he said "Every citizen in this entire world has the unalienable right to live with dignity and respect without hate or oppression.” He said he was “repulsed by my own actions” and understands “if I’m shunned ‘tiI hit the dirt.”

He told Rolling Stone in 2016: “The word ‘racist’ has been thrown around so much over the past three years or so that people do not realize the heaviness of that particular accusation. To think that I think I’m superior to someone else because I have pale skin when I know in my heart. … I think people that look through the lens of race and want to find racism will find it no matter where they’re f**king looking.”

Anselmo eventually apologized “to anyone that took offence to what I said, because you should have taken offence to what I said. And I am so sorry. I hope you give me another chance.”

In a 1994 interview that aired on MTV, Anselmo wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a white supremacist symbol in South Africa. Asked about fans who scream “White power!” at Pantera shows, Anselmo replied: “I ain't them kids and them kids are going to yell what they’re going to yell anyway.”

The Montreal Gazette reported in 1995 that during a Pantera concert at the Verdun Auditorium, Anselmo went on a rant that included his view that “rap music advocates the killing of white people.” Later, he responded in a statement: “I must take responsibility for the harmful words that may have racially offended our audience. First, to the black girl who has seen Pantera six times, thank you for telling me how upset you were at me; it made a difference and I was very sincere with my apology.

“Second, I'd once again like to apologize to the security guards at the show. They were classy and professional, and came to talk to me after the show when they really didn't need to at all. They opened my eyes. And yes, they were black men. I have much respect for them. I extend my apologies and a thank you to them.”

Anselmo has also previously addressed Pantera’s past use of the Confederate flag on its merch and at its concerts. “It'd be like, would we be flying the Nazi flag? I don't think so,” he said, adding “there was never a time when it was OK to promote hate.

“These days, I wouldn't want anything to f**king do with it because truthfully...I wouldn’t.”

Pantera disbanded in 2003 but Anselmo and Brown announced last year they were reuniting to go on tour. According to the band’s website, the band has two shows in Japan in March and a long list of stops throughout Europe until July, including Berlin and Hamburg.

Pantera is scheduled to join Metallica at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Aug. 11 and then play Toronto’s Budweiser Stage the following night. (They are also part of the line-up at the Metallica show in Edmonton in August 2024.)

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