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Slayer’s King came close to Pantera tie-up - Anselmo

Phil Anselmo has stopped short of saying Slayer guitarist Kerry King wanted to join Pantera in their early days.

The pair became friends after a mutual friend arranged an onstage jam in a Dallas club in 1988 – and King enjoyed the experience of working alongside late guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott.

Anselmo tells Talking Metal: “Slayer were playing down the street. My boxing coach used to be a radio DJ and called my house and said, ‘I got Tom Araya in here. Do you want to meet him?’

“Sure enough, he brought Tom, Kerry and Jeff Hanneman to the show. They got on stage and did a couple of songs with us. Kerry and I hit it off and we exchanged phone numbers. He kept in touch quite a bit – it was awesome, especially for a kid like I was at the time. Slayer was the be-all and end-all for me.”

King’s influence came to bear while Anselmo was trying to persuade his bandmates to move towards heavier music. The frontman recalls: “Dimebag and Kerry sitting down with each other opened up Dimebag’s eyes, and eventually the rest of the guys’ eyes, to the power of thrash. The magic of it really influenced us to push our own music over the edge.”

Asked if the Slayer mainman was hoping for a closer collaboration with Pantera, Anselmo replies: “He loved it, and it was a nice departure for him to jam with us, but… I could say more but I won’t.”

Dimebag’s brother Vinnie Paul last year revealed the guitarist was once invited to join Megadeth around the same time – but refused Dave Mustaine’s offer. Paul said: “Dime straight-up told Dave, ‘If you want me to play for you, my brother’s got to come with me. That’s the deal.’ Dave’s like, ‘Man, we’ve already got a drummer.’ Dime was like, ‘Well, sorry, dude. I’m not playing for your band.’ And he stuck with Pantera, and everything worked out.”

Pantera and Down were recently featured in NOLA, a TV series exploring the origins of heavy blues music. Anselmo will reunite Superjoint Ritual at his Housecore Horror festival in Texas this weekend.