DOWN, the band fronted by former PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo, has pulled out of this year's Hellfest in France — two months after the incident when he made a "white power" gesture onstage at a concert.
Anselmo performed the PANTERA classic "Walk" at the January 22 "Dimebash" event at the Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood, California in honor of his former bandmate, late PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. As he left the stage, he made a Nazi-style salute. He appeared to say "white power" as he made the gesture, but he later claimed he was referring to drinking white wine as part of an "inside joke."
Since then, the French government asked Hellfest organizers to remove DOWN from the festival's billing due to Anselmo's controversial behavior, but Hellfest refused, losing €20,000 (approximately $22,400) in subsidies as a result. Hellfest organizer Ben Barbaud even penned an open letter to a number of government officials claiming they were using Anselmo as a convenient tool to deny the festival money they had been wanting to withhold from Hellfest for years.
Now in a new letter to Barbaud, Anselmo explained that DOWN will not play any European festivals this summer and revealed that he is dealing with knee injuries which require him to undergo physical rehabilitation therapyand get a lot of rest.
Said Anselmo in his letter: "Dearest Ben, Philip H. Anselmo here, brother... First, and foremost, there is NO WAY I can possibly thank you enough for 'fighting the good fight' for me, and ALL of my bands, namely DOWN in this instance. Your love and backbone will never be forgotten, and from this point on through the rest of my fighting life, I owe you every ounce of praise!
"My AWFUL mistake has taken a toll on my reputation, and justly so! However I must point out, you damned well KNOW ME better than this drunken incident could ever describe.
"Hellfest is my heart!!!
"And my embarrassment is tremendous, because I only have LOVE for people all over this skirmishing earth.
"So, my brother, it fucking rips my heart into further pieces to let you know, I don't think I should do ANY Euro festivals this year.
"So PLEASE, I BEG YOU, give me this time to get my brain clear, and to come back (if you will have me back) next year my brother, I implore you! Plus, the re-emergence of the knee injuries have been plaguing me of late as well, so I must address this too, through physical rehabilitation and rest.
"Knowing my character, when I put my mind to something THIS DIRE, I come back 100 times better, and THAT'S what the mighty Hellfest deserves!!!
"My love for you and the rest of the gang that makes Hellfest THE TOPS goes on and on and on...
"Much love & respect - Philip H. Anselmo (and the H. stands for HEALING)"
The organizers of the Dutch festival FortaRock recently pulled DOWN from this year's event in light of Anselmo's actions. They explained in a statement: "We want to make clear that there is no room for racism or fascism on FortaRock."
Several notable musicians have come out and criticized Anselmo for his actions, including MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn, who uploaded an eleven-minute video response to the incident in which he called Anselmo a "big bully" and described Philip's behavior as "fucking wrong."